NATIONAL COUNCIL ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA
Prof. KARINE DANIELYAN
Chairperson of Association "For Sustainable Human Development”







The Creation and Activity of NCSD in Armenia


I consider this Network meeting very important, as since 2006 the Earth Council has stopped its activity and the exchange of experience between NCSDs was interrupted.

The lobbying of Sustainable development principles in Armenia begun from 1994, when I began to teach a course "The Sustainable Development Concept: theory and practice” in YSU. In one year on the basis of this course a manual for universities was prepared and published with support of UNDP.

In this period we organized an experts group for elaboration of the SD Index.

As a result in January 1996 the group of experts which has developed an Index, and students of YSU created the Association. The basic mission of Association consists in the following: to spread main ideas, principles and approaches of SD, to assist in founding NCSD and elaboration and implementation of National Program on SD.

During all these years we have carried out seminars, conferences, trainings, particularly for decision makers. In 2001 under the support of Earth Council we prepared the non -governmental assessment report "Rio+10” and organized a national / regional conference, where non- governmental sector of NCSD was created and we addressed the President and the Prime minister of the country with the request to generate National Council on Sustainable Development.  In 2002 the NCSD was founded by the Prime Minister, and also on the basis of our report the National assessment report was prepared.

Unfortunately, the following years the Council did not work. In 2009 the Prime minister set our Association the functions of NCSD Secretariat, and then the Council began to function more or less regularly. Now members of NCSD are the representatives of Government, Parliament, ministries, Academy, business sector and 9 NGOs, that allows to solve also operatively most urgent essential questions.

In 2011 by decision of NCSD the Commission on preparation to "Rio+20” UN Summit was created. As a result of this commission work, after many discussions of the representatives of the ministries, independent experts and NGOs, the National assessment report "Rio+20” was prepared and published, as well as organized side-event "The Possible Models of Sustainable Development Index” in Rio.

The "Post Rio+20” process, unfortunately, started late in Armenia, as the elections of the country's President and Yerevan mayor took place. At last, on April 26, 2013 the session was held where it was decided to create a multi stakeholder commission for realization of the "Post Rio+20” process and implementation of recommendations of the outcome document "The Future we want”.

State policy on progress of sustainable development principles

The ecological footprint of the country, according to the UNDP Human development report 2011, is estimated as 1,8 ha/person. This size is a rather good one, as the average is 2,4 ha/person. However, unfortunately, it is caused not by development of green economy, but by recession of economy in countries in transition period.

In 2003 the government has confirmed the PRSP. A network of NGOs for cooperation aimed at realization of the program was generated. In 2008 the program was reconsidered and presented as the Strategic Program on Sustainable Development.

In the program the combination of economic, social and environmental priorities was declared. However, according to the experts' opinion, the intersectoral integration in the program was not enough, particularly in the sphere of taking into account the ecological priorities.

Now the program is again reconsidered under the title «The Strategic program of perspective development of RA in 2013-25». Wide discussions of this program are organized, we try to ensure the intersectoral integration in the spirit of principles of sustainable development.

Economic tools for promotion of SD. For more than 15 years the principle "Polluter pays” has been introduced in the country, the laws and decisions of the Government regulating activities in the given sphere are accepted. The principles of environment protection and rational use of natural resources, social justice are fixed in the Constitution of Armenia. Number of the state programs on separate areas are developed and implemented, however we can not speak about real high-grade reorientation of Armenia to sustainable development yet.

Significant amount of activities are carried out within the framework of UN decade «The Education for sustainable development» both in formal and informal education systems. Universities show the best success. We have developed and published some manuals on SD for higher education, in the near future the main textbook for universities with inclusion of "Rio+20” outcomes will be republished with assistance of UNDP. The positive experience of Armenia in the given sphere is reflected in the editions of UNESCO 2007, 2008 and 2009.

There is clear now, that still much to be done both at national and international levels to reach the eight UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). To sum up what has been done and to outline what is to be done in 2013 UN has launched a national consultation process in 50 countries to make the result analysis and global development agenda as participatory as possible.

In Armenia this consultation process was facilitated by the NGO "International Center for Human Development” jointly with the RA Ministry of Territorial Administration with the support of the UN Population Fund.

Based on the wide public discussions the organizer prepared the report which presents participants’ visions of five issues namely: economic growth and employment, inequality, food security, environment, and health. The report presents national development priorities identified by Armenians within the global development agenda.

As I already have mentioned, the significant work is carried out in the country in the sphere of Sustainable development dimension. In 1995 we have developed the version of Sustainable Development Index on the basis of Human Development Index, including the ecological factor. The Ecological index was elaborated, consisting of 21 environmental indicators, which were calculated in the same manner, as the other indicators of Human development index. During the past years the National service of statistics calculated this complex SD Index for Armenia.

In 2012, with support of UNDP, the method was improved and presented during side-event organized by Armenian delegation in the framework of Rio+20 Summit, where it was recommended to organize the European regional conference on the given theme, however UNDP has not found the sufficient finances for that yet. We consider this work very important, as the network of indicators is only the first step, the index is absolutely necessary for the assessment of process dynamics in the countries and for comparison of countries.

Activities at a local level.

We haven’t got high-grade Local Agenda 21 for Armenia's communities yet, however certain work in this direction is conducted. We have prepared and published 2 manuals: «Towards sustainable cities» and «SD Process at a local level: the international experience, problems and perspectives».

Municipality of Hrazdan city signed the European «Aalborg Charter» and joined the world net ICLEI. Now we began the process of signing « Aalborg Charter » and involving into the ICLEI network for Yerevan city.

For 4 cities the integrated assessment of local environmental conditions is carried out within the framework of UNEP "GEO-cities” program and the recommendations for Local Agenda 21 are developed. For 5 towns the Local environmental plans are developed and implemented. For the spiritual centre of Armenia –Echmiadzin the program «Green city of pilgrims» is developed. The above-stated activities at national and local levels are carried out with assistance of UN structures, GIZ, USAID, REC Caucasus.

Prospects and restrictions for transition to green economy.

Some examples from good practice of promotion of Green Economy

In green economy context some success is achieved in agriculture as a result of the Law about organic agriculture and Program of sustainable development of agriculture. If in 2003 methods of organic agriculture were applied only on 110ha, towards 2011 this parameter has grown up to 1250ha. The organic production began in gardening, then spread to vegetables, and honey production.

The certain development has been achieved by alternative energy, in particular 111 small hydroelectric power stations are constructed, the wind energy station works with capacity of 2,6 Mw, pilot projects on solar energy have been implemented. However, unfortunately the basic emphasis is made on small water-power engineering, whereas in our conditions, they create significant problems for local communities in irrigation sphere and also for water ecosystems, particularly for biodiversity. We have a significant scientific and technological potential in helioenergy, but this potential is not used enough yet. It is necessary to develop a complex stimulating approach to this issue in the country.
5 projects are implemented and 8 projects are authorized to implementation in the framework of Clean development mechanism by Kyoto protocol. The recycling projects for paper, metals, and plastic have been carried out.

The barriers and challenges on the way to green economy

The basic barriers are connected with implementation of "shock therapy” in transition period. As a result we have: the significant loss of economic potential, sharp polarization of the population based on incomes, growth of poverty, labor migration.

The ecological price of the transition period is also high, because the interrelation poverty - environment is well-known. The economic success of last years is mainly connected with orientation to raw economy with over exploitation of natural resources. And, probably, the most essential loss is the mass orientation to over-consumption, that is absolutely destructive for environment.

As a result of reforms the country went from postindustrial level to previous industrial level, characteristic for raw economy. Before the reforms Armenia was on 47the place on a scale of Human development index, in the initial period of reforms the country was lowered to 103rd place, then the gradual rise began. Now the rating of RA in the HDI scale corresponds to 86th position.

Extensive mining puts huge harm to an environment and, hence, to health of the population.

In 2001-2002, under the initiative of Association «For SHD», with participation of 40 national experts from different spheres of SD, with UNDP support, the Concept of Sustainable Development of Republic of Armenia was developed and presented in Johannesburg Summit. Unfortunately, the concept could not be implemented, as it contradicted the main recommendations of IFI and postulates of Washington consensus, which the Government was guided by at that time. However, today it is important, that the basic principles and approaches of the given Concept correspond to postulates of «the Green Deal» and outcome document of "Rio+20” Summit «The Future we want».
We shall try to take into account all these principles in the activities of for "Post RIO+20” created commission and to achieve the implementation of the concrete projects on green economy.

Prof. Karine Danielyan, Chairperson of Association "For Sustainable Human Development”/ UNEPNatCom, Chair on Ecology and Sustainable Development of ASPU and Secretary of NCSD of RA.

(The presentation in Network meeting of the European Environment and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils in Berlin 23-24. 05.13.)
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888 reads | 12.07.2013
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