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Belarus

 

Belarus ratified the Espoo Convention in 2005, however the country has not yet joined the Protocol. In June 2011, at the fifth Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention which served as the first Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on SEA, Belarus expressed its wish for technical assistance on the improvement of legislation, which would enable an accession to the Protocol.

The activities, which were implemented by the UNECE Secretariat to the Espoo Convention the in the framework of the EU funded programme 'Greening Economies in the Eastern Neighbourhood' (EaP GREEN), aimed to assist Belarus in developing a national environmental assessment system in line with the Espoo Convention and its Protocol on SEA.

The activities were carried out in close cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus, and coordinated with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), as well as with the ENVSEC Project “Managing Environment and Security Risks with Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)”.

The review of the current legislation in Belarus was prepared by an international consultant in close collaboration with a national consultant nominated by Belarus. The conclusions of the review and proposed alternatives of further steps were presented and discussed with relevant stakeholders at a national level round table consultation meeting on 5 September 2013. The final draft review was prepared based on comments received during and after the meeting.

Following the results of the review, Belarus with the support of the UNECE Secretariat drafted a new law on state ecological expertise, SEA and EIA, which was adopted in July 2016. The Law provided an improved legal framework on SEA, however with certain gaps vis-à-vis the provisions of the Protocol and the Convention still remaining. These gaps were partially addressed through secondary legislation (regulations on EIA, SEA and state ecological expertise), which was developed from September to December 2016, and adopted in January 2017. UNECE assistance included organization of an in-depth training on SEA and a drafting group meeting on SEA (September 2016), where twenty one representatives of the planning authorities and the legislative drafting team increased their understanding of the main provisions of the Protocol on SEA and possibilities of its transposition of the national system. Further, the review by the UNECE consultant of the draft regulations was carried out in October 2016, and in February 2017 of adopted documents in order to propose changes of the legislation to align it with the Espoo Convention and it Protocol on SEA.

In addition to the legislative assistance, three local level training workshops on SEA were organized in Gomel, Brest, and Grodno in 2013 (see www.unece.org/index.php. Through the events, altogether fifty four experts from regional authorities, municipalities, NGOs, and other organisations were introduced by the concept and use of SEA, which was illustrate through a case study.

The final phase of activities was initiated in September 2017, and consisted of:

Besides facilitating development of the national SEA system, UNECE in collaboration with UNEP and UNDP supported implementation of a joint pilot project between Belarus and Ukraine on post-project analysis of the exploitation of the Khotislavskoye quarry in 2013 – 2014.

The results of the post-project analysis proved useful during the negotiations of the bilateral agreement on transboundary EIA between Poland and Belarus (September, 2016) that were also supported by the EaP GREEN. For more details on the transboundary pilot project please see the dedicated site.

In addition to the national activities, representatives of Belarus had an opportunity to participate in the regional events. In December 2014 five national experts took part in the in the Study Tour on Sharing Best Practices of the Czech Republic in the field of applying SEA. National experts learned about the Czech SEA system by discussing challenges and success factors.

In November 2015, four national experts also benefited from other EaP GREEN regional experience sharing events, including the regional conference for exchange experiences on improving legal and institutional frameworks for application of EIA and SEA in the participating countries and the SEA train-the-trainers workshop. The participants of the training are supposed to take further lead in SEA development in the country – mainly to provide training to the national stakeholders and to carry out SEAs with the minimum involvement of the international experts.

Representatives of Belarus also had an opportunity to attend the second sub-regional workshop 'Sharing experience with introducing SEA and EIA in selected countries of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus', organized in Ukraine, 31 October - 2 November 2017.

The participants of the sub-regional events are supposed to take further lead in SEA development in the country - in particular to act as the lecturers in the training workshops and awareness raising events as well as to carry out SEAs with the use of the national expertise and knowledge to a maximum possible extent.

Main results and achievements

The adoption and further amendments of the new legislative framework for SEA and EIA represents an important step towards the implementation of the functional system for SEA and EIA application.

Joint pilot EIA in a transboundary context provided following main results:

  • A bilateral Working Group for the environmental monitoring of the Khotislavskoye quarry was established and dialogue between experts of Belarus and Ukraine was initiated;
  • Data on the Khotislavskoye quarry was collected and analysed, and
  • Recommendations for improving the transboundary EIA procedure and post-project analysis in Belarus and Ukraine were prepared by the international and national experts on EIA.

Also, the pilot project formulated recommendations on how to address existing weaknesses and gaps in the national EIA systems, with emphasis on the post-project analysis, which were accepted by both countries involved.

Contacts

Should you have any questions, please contact Ms. Elena Santer, Espoo Convention Secretariat, at elena.santer@un.org, or Ms. Nadezhda Zdanevich, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus, at nzdanevich@tut.by.

 

The EaP GREEN programme aims to help the Government of Belarus to establish an integrated policy framework for the transition to a green economy through reforming policy instruments, adopting new analytical tools, improving access to finance, supporting capacity development, and rolling out pilot projects in the public and private sectors.