Tbilisi, 28 June 2012 - According to the European Union progress report on Implementation of the European Neighborhood Policy in Georgia, ‘In 2011 the EU and Georgia made progress in deepening and broadening EU-Georgia relations within the Eastern Partnership framework’. However, report stressed that ‘The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources became the Ministry of Environment Protection. Some of its previous responsibilities were transferred to other ministries. There were no significant developments with regard to Georgia’s ratification of, or accession to, environment related conventions and protocols of the UN economic Commission for Europe’.
We suggest that recent trends in Georgia’s environmental governance contradict the commitments of the Georgian government under EU-Georgia European Neighborhood Policy Action Plan. While, according to the requirement from Action Plan, Georgia is supposed to ‘Take steps to ensure that conditions for good environmental governance are set’, introduction of environment abusing legislative amendments and practices which are accompanied by public participation avoidance, largely disregard abovementioned commitment.
Legislative amendments recently passed by the Georgian Parliament in environmental framework law in March, 2012 allows conclusion of an agreement of unlimited duration between an interested party and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of Georgia in a field of environmental protection and Natural resource use, carry risks of environmental, corrupt, economic, social and political nature.
A number of other legislative amendments to environmental law that were passed hastily, disturb Georgia’s protected areas system and biodiversity. Kazbegi national park has been reduced for the sake of Dariali Hydro Power Plant construction and in the vicinity of Kolkhety National Park, on the wetlands protected under the Ramsar Convention, construction of a new city Lazika is planned. We are concerned that all legal amendments referring to abovementioned changes has been made without any involvement of stakeholders or civil society during the process of draft law hearings.
As Environmental Impact Assessment law is weak, the alarming practice of launching various projects without environmental permits has been established. As a new case, particular attention should be paid to Nenskra HPP (Svaneti region) construction, which has been officially opened by the president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, whilst neither environmental consent nor construction permit had been given on the project, in the first place.
Green Alternative calls on Georgian government to comply with the commitments taken under the EU-Georgia European Neighborhood Policy Action Plan and take action for prevention of deterioration of the environment, protection of human health and achievement of rational use of natural resources.