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Armenia

Armenia is a Party to the Protocol on SEA since 2014, and thus it belongs to the first countries in the Eastern European and Caucasian region joining the Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (Protocol on SEA) to the Convention on the Environmental Impact Assessment in the Transboundary Context (the Espoo Convention) .

Since June 2013, the UNECE Secretariat to the Espoo Convention assists the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resource Protection of Armenia (hereinafter also the ‘Ministry’) in developing a national environmental assessment system in line with the Convention and its Protocol on SEA. The activities have been implemented in the framework of the EU funded programme ‘Greening Economies in the Eastern Neighbourhood’ (EaP GREEN) in several phases and in close cooperation with the non-governmental organisation EcoGlobe and recently REC Caucasus.

Armenia, with the support from the EaP GREEN, has been gradually introducing the SEA elements into the planning and permitting systems in order to:

  • Improve national legislative and institutional framework to fully comply with the Protocol and relevant EU legislation;
  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities of various authorities in the SEA process;
  • Build national and local capacities, develop practical experience and national guidelines for application of the SEA procedures in line with the Protocol and relevant EU legislation;
  • Raise awareness and common understanding of the benefits of the SEA at national and local levels and in different sectors, including the benefits of public participation and the consultation of relevant authorities.

Phase I of the programme was focused on capacity building on SEA and included training for governmental authorities and public (September – November 2013). In November 2013, the project partners implemented the first four day national training workshop for decision-makers, administrative officers and representatives of non-governmental organisations. The aim of the workshop was to provide the participants with the step-by-step guidance on application of SEA as a tool for strategic decision making and planning for greening the economy. The participants recommended to assess the existing legislative framework on SEA and to ensure that the relevant requirements of the UNECE Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment and the relevant EU legislation are appropriately incorporated into the national legislation.

Phase II (September 2014 – April 2015) aimed to review legislative and institutional frameworks for the application of EIA and SEA procedures  and provide for awareness on SEA on the national level. The Ministry, in cooperation with the UNECE Secretariat, also discussed its results at the national round-table meeting on 26 September 2014. The legislative review outlined that the legislation on Environmental Assessment and Environmental Expertise (adopted in August 2014) contains elements of the strategic environmental assessment. However, to fully comply with the provisions of the SEA Protocol and the relevant EU legislation, several changes and amendments to the existing legislation are required, including, for example, development of an SEA procedure.

In addition, based on the request of the Espoo Convention Implementation Committee, UNECE experts reviewed national law on EIA and ecological expertise. This review provided recommendations for changes of existing legal framework in order to fully comply with the requirements of the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context. The UNECE Secretariat and the Ministry are recently developing an approach on how to incorporate the recommendations of the reviews into the new law. Thus, with EaP GREEN’s support, Armenia is using the recommendations from both reviews to amend the existing law on EIA and ecological expertise to ensure full compliance with the international standards.

The Current Phase III, is being implemented since December 2015. It includes:

  • Implementing a pilot project on the application of SEA to a specific plan or a programme together with a series of training workshops on specific SEA steps and analyses (December 2015 – March 2017), for more details please see the dedicated webpage here.
  • Developing the national guidelines on practical application of SEA (June 2016 – April 2017)
  • Drafting necessary amendments to the existing Law on environmental assessment and expertise as well as preparing a subordinate regulation on SEA (March 2016 – April 2017)
  • The legal roundtable to introduce SEA procedure as stipulated by the draft legislation to the sectoral authorities and other relevant stakeholders (February 2017).

Besides national activities, representatives of Armenia 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.

In November 2015, five national experts 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 (in spring 2017) to the national stakeholders and to carry out SEAs with the minimum involvement of the international experts.

Representatives of Armenia will also have the opportunity to attend the final sub-regional conference on the lessons learned from the developments of the SEA systems in the EaP countries, which shall be organized in September 2017.

Should you have any question, please contact Mr. Martin Smutny, Project Coordinator, the Espoo Secretariat, at martin.smutny@unece.org,or Ms. Elyanora Grigoryan, the National focal point of the Espoo Convention, Adviser to the Minister of Nature Protection, at interdpt@yahoo.com.

The EaP GREEN programme aims to help the Government of Armenia 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.