Significant energy price increases arising from the war in Ukraine are having a negative impact on food production capabilities and costs in Georgia, especially in rural areas. This threatens to weaken the competitiveness of producers and increase their vulnerability to poverty. Reducing energy consumption by improving the efficiency of food production can help to reduce these pressures, while enabling producers and processors to ensure food safety and reduce their carbon footprint.
To support this effort, UNECE presented to the Government and stakeholders in Georgia an assessment of energy consumption by small businesses in rural areas of Georgia, together with recommendations to reduce energy costs and improve energy efficiency for small businesses in rural areas. The case studies with targeted assistance for small businesses in selected rural areas to introduce energy efficiency measures were also discussed.
This results from the project “Strengthening Georgia’s food and energy resilience jointly implemented from July 2022 to March 2023 by UNECE and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO), under the overall coordination of the UN Resident Coordinator Office in Georgia, under the Joint SDG Fund Development Emergency Modality – Response to the Global Crisis on Food, Energy, Finance.
A Policy Dialogue on Food and Energy Resilience in Georgia was organized in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 24 March 2023 to review its main outcomes and to exchange information with stakeholders on existing approaches, challenges, and perspectives for further development of food and energy resilience of Georgia.
The project was requested by the Government of Georgia to analyze the implications of the war in Ukraine, food, and nutrition security, as well as energy security and poverty in Georgia. Substantial economic impacts of the war have elevated uncertainty added to the challenges already facing Georgia from rising inflationary pressures and the imbalanced recovery from the pandemic. Households, especially vulnerable ones and those in rural areas, are also experiencing pressures from higher food and fuel prices.
As Georgia has significant economic ties with both Ukrainian and Russian economies, the adverse impact of the war is also felt through trade, remittances, FDI, commodity prices, and logistics. The double shock of food and fuel price increases pose an immediate danger to groups of the population who are already experiencing or are at risk of poverty. Fiscal pressures from rising social assistance are expected to increase further. These in turn are challenging Georgia’s path towards achievement of the SDGs and calling for increased food and energy resilience.
The Policy Dialogue reviewed the key findings and achievements of the project and held strategic discussions based on policy, institutions and people dimensions of food and energy resilience. In particular, the event discussed ways of measuring the impacts for inclusive decision making; improving data collection and analysis tools; social protection response to needs of workers in agriculture sector; and improving energy efficiency by small businesses in rural areas.
Over 60 officials and experts representing the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons, Labor, Health and Social Affairs, National Statistics Office, international organizations, NGOs, business, and academia, participated in the Policy Dialogue.