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From left to right: Mr Alexandre Darras,EU delegation to Georgia, Ms. Nino Tandilashvili,
Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA),Ms Christine Kitlzer,
Environmental Affairs Officer UNECE. © UNECE

 

On December 9, 2019 a pilot project on the Application of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Draft Alazani-Iori River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) was launched in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The kick-off meeting informed key stakeholders about the objectives and envisaged outcomes of the pilot SEA and updated participants on the status of development of the Alazani-Iori RBMP. Engaged participants discussed the benefits and potential constraints of implementation of the SEA of RBMPs. The event brought together over 35 representatives of relevant governmental institutions, international and donor organizations, experts and other stakeholders. The meeting participants were welcomed by Ms. Nino Tandilashvili, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (MEPA).

 

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From left to right: Elena Bakradze, Head of the Tbilissi Water Laboratory, and other
representatives of the NEA (National Environmental Agency) of Georgia © UNECE

 

The pilot project was initiated upon the request of the MEPA and is implemented under the European Union Water Initiative Plus for Eastern Partnership Countries. It is being led by the UNECE. The Georgia’s Environmental Outlook - GEO is the local partner providing support in the implementation of the pilot project.

In view of the plans of the Government of Georgia to introduce the river basin management principles in the management of water resources, the pilot project will assist the MEPA in strengthening its capacity to conduct SEAs of the RBMPs.

The kick-off meeting was followed by a Training Workshop on the Application of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Draft Alazani-Iori River Basin Management Plan: Scoping and Baseline Analysis on December 10, 2019.

The training introduced main principles of efficient SEA application with the focus on its benefits and requirements, updated participants on the development stage of the Alazani-Iori RBMP. Furthermore, the training created an initial scoping matrix with the help of participants, who were further trained on SEA scoping and analysis practices. The target group of the training consisted of representatives of governmental institutions, the national team working on the SEA and representatives of other institutions closely involved in the development of the Alazani-Iori RBMP. The training gathered approximately 25 participants.

 

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From left to right: Ms Makarova, Water Division, MEPA, Ms Malashkhia, Project coordinator GEO,
Ms Kitzler Environmental Affairs Officer UNECE, Ms Barnovi, R1 project representative for the EUWI+project. © UNECE

 

Background info

The European Union Water Initiative plus for Eastern Partnership Countries programme (EUWI+) was Launched in September 2016 for a duration of four years. It is the biggest commitment of the EU to the water sector in the EaP countries. It supports the six partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) to align their legislation with EU policy on water management, with a focus on transboundary rivers. It provides support to the development of a long-term vision of water sector reforms in the Partner Countries. The programme is implemented by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and an EU Member state Consortium comprising the Environment Agency Austria (Austria) and the International Office for Water (France).

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is the process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes prior to their final adoption. It proposes a set of analytical and participatory processes for incorporating environmental considerations at early stages of decision making,into policies, plans, and programs that affect natural resources. SEA fosters and provides critical systematic considerations at   the   sectoral,   regional,   and   national   levels   to promote  environmental  sustainability,  smart  growth, and pollution prevention.

A River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) is a guiding document that ensures a global approach to water management: it considers various economic, social and ecological aspects on a specific river basin to guide the development of appropriate sustainable water management measures, strategies and policies. A RBMP is a planning document that has to be developed first and then updated every 6 years (planning cycle) Developing this guiding document involves two general steps (diagnosis: how does the river basin work and what is causing problems or risks? And Programme of measures: How can we improve it?) Public and stakeholder consultations are organised throughout the RBMP development process

 

More about  RBMP development in Georgia