UNECE will support Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine to further enhance strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and transboundary environmental impact assessment (EIA) to prevent and mitigate damage to the environment and health from economic growth. This will contribute to a major EU-funded programme aiming at greening national economies and promoting sustainable development in the six Eastern Partnership countries.
Under this initiative, UNECE is supporting the countries to fully align their national legislation with the UNECE Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (Protocol on SEA) and the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention), as well as with relevant EU Directives, and to ensure its effective and systematic application. This assistance will be provided by UNECE in 2019-2022 with funding of USD 2.6 million from the “European Union for Environment” (EU4Environment) programme.
On 27-28 June, the project’s beneficiary countries, together with the EU and international partners (OECD, UNECE, UN Environment, UNIDO and the World Bank) convened in the project’s inaugural event in Brussels to define priorities, targets and specific actions for its initial period to further protect the environment, harness opportunities for greener development and set mechanisms to manage environmental risks and impacts more effectively.
This provided the opportunity for all partners to agree on country-specific draft work plans including for building adequate capacities for the effective and systematic application of SEA and, as needed, transboundary EIA. Translating these plans into action will enhance transparency of decision-making, cross-sectoral cooperation and public participation and promote transboundary and regional cooperation in assessing environmental impacts.
“Our cooperation on environment with the Eastern Partner countries is stronger than ever and is already bringing tangible benefits to the daily lives of citizens across the region. Together the EU and its six Eastern Partners are working to increase our joint ambition to tackle environmental protection and climate challenges. There is no time to lose. Today’s meeting has brought all partners together to agree on the next steps forward.” said Katarína Mathernová, Deputy Director-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations at the European Commission.
EU4Environment reinforces and sustains the results achieved in the six beneficiary countries with assistance by UNECE under the EU-funded EaP GREEN project (2013–2018). This contributed to the important efforts made by the countries to comply with international requirements for SEA, including by Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, who joined Armenia as Parties to the UNECE Protocol on SEA.
With co-funding from Czechia, UNECE has already launched some EU4Environment-related activities in Georgia. Further support by UNECE will also include legislative assistance, concluding pilot projects related to SEA procedures, preparation of sector- or issue-specific guidelines on SEA and conducting training and awareness raising events, including at sub-regional level.
Note to editors
About the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention)
The Espoo Convention sets out the obligations of Parties to assess the environmental impact of certain activities at an early stage of planning. It also lays down the general obligation of States to notify and consult each other on all major projects under consideration that are likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact across boundaries. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine are Parties to the Espoo Convention.
About the Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
The Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) requires its Parties to evaluate the environmental consequences of their official draft plans and programmes. SEA is undertaken much earlier in the decision-making process than EIA, and it is therefore seen as a key tool for sustainable development. As a result, SEA can help to make government planning in energy, agriculture, water management, waste management economic sectors, which have a significant impact on the environment, more efficient, taking into account environmental and human health factors. In particular, SEA makes it possible to identify the most sustainable and cost-effective alternatives of strategic development for green economic growth, adaptation to climate change, attracting new investments and protecting the environment.
The Protocol also provides for extensive public participation in government decision-making in numerous development sectors.
Armenia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine are Parties to the Protocol on SEA.