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Strengthening coordination of land-use planning and industrial safety in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus with help of UNECE tools

Major industrial accidents can have far-reaching, transboundary and long-term impacts on populations and the environment.

Without adequate coordination between land-use planning and industrial safety communities to ensure, for example, appropriate land use zoning and safety distances, the effects of such accidents can be much more severe.

Coordinated governance and coherent policy-making are essential for the effective management of these risks, which need to be considered in land-use planning and environmental assessments.

Countries of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus face multiple challenges in ensuring such coordination. To support these countries to improve their integration of land-use planning and industrial safety procedures and cooperation amongst the respective authorities, UNECE hosted a sub-regional workshop on land-use planning and industrial safety for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus on 22-24 May 2019 in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova. It brought together over 40 experts in land-use planning, industrial safety, environmental assessment and related fields, representing national and local authorities, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and academia.  

Representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, together with international experts from Belgium/Flanders, France, Kyrgyzstan, the Netherlands, Norway and Serbia exchanged experiences, good practices, challenges and agreed on ways forward in this field.

The workshop highlighted existing UNECE multilateral environmental agreements, frameworks and guidelines available to help countries improve their coordination and decision-making on land-use planning and the siting of hazardous industrial sites. These include: the UNECE Industrial Accidents Convention, the Convention on Environmental Assessment in a Transboundary Context and its Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (Espoo Convention), the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention), the UNECE Guidance on land-use planning, the siting of hazardous activities and related safety aspects and the Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing.

A video produced by UNECE and Zoi Environment Network, which demonstrates the linkages between the multitude of UNECE instruments, was launched in Russian at the workshop.

Workshop participants agreed to strengthen their legislation to integrate land-use planning and industrial safety, in line with the relevant multilateral environmental agreements such as the Industrial Accidents Convention, and the Espoo Convention and its Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment, and to establish inter-institutional coordination mechanisms. The workshop highlighted that transboundary cooperation and information sharing with neighbouring countries on land-use plans, development proposals and risk/environmental assessments, and dialogue with all stakeholders is essential for a more effective management of industrial risks to populations and the environment.

The workshop marked the integration of land-use planning into the Industrial Accidents Convention’s Assistance and Cooperation Programme, launching a series of sub-regional and national events to that effect. As a cross-sectoral effort connecting UNECE’s expertise on environment as well as on housing and land management, it showcased the cross-sectoral “nexus” theme “Smart and sustainable cities for all ages” in practice, and how UNECE can effectively support its member States in the further “nationalization” and “localization” of the SDGs, and the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the New Urban Agenda.

The sub-regional workshop was hosted by the Republic of Moldova. It was organized thanks to financing provided by the Ministry of the Ecological and Inclusive Transition of France.

For more information on the workshop, please visit: http://www.unece.org/environmental-policy/conventions/industrial-accidents/meetings-and-events/industrial-accidents/workshops/2019/sub-regional-workshop-on-land-use-planning-and-industrial-safety-for-eastern-europe-and-the-caucasus/docs.html