Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Statement of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum 'The Need for Better Environmental Governance', adopted on 30.11.2012, Stockholm

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The Need for Better Environmental Governance

Statement of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, 30.11.2012., Stockholm


We welcome the EaP Roadmap as the framework to facilitate the tripartite dialogue on setting and achieving concrete objectives of reforms. Given the deteriorating state of the environment in the six EAP countries, among the most important of these is environmental governance.


In 2011-2012, EaP CSF WG3 conducted two assessments of environmental performance in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.[1] The assessments revealed similar major trends, with some variations between countries:


  • Environmental strategic planning and annual reporting has improved in advanced Association Agenda negotiating countries Ukraine and Moldova;
  • The latest public administration reforms are weakening administrative structures and procedures for environmental governance;
  • Deregulation is leading to the elimination of procedures for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and is undermining an informed decision making process;
  • Mechanisms and procedures for public participation on environmental matters are largely absent in the legislation and often ignored in decision-making processes on energy, transport, agriculture and industry policy;
  • Environmental policy integration is generally not backed up with legislation (for example, since 2003 only Armenia has ratified the Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment, SEA), limiting efforts to green economies and improve resource efficiency;
  • The potential of the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) for improving the quality of information for environmental decision-making can be used better, with greater involvement of non-governmental organisations.


The elimination of EIA procedures and lack of public participation (PP) are especially alarming due to the significant growth of economic activities in all EaP countries. Planned shale gas exploration as well as mining operations involving hydraulic fracturing, construction of hydropower stations, transmission lines, nuclear power stations, etc., can have long-lasting and grave environmental impacts and proper EIA procedures should apply. However, legislative gaps provide loopholes that make it possible to ignore or limit EIA procedures and avoid broader stakeholder involvement, including local communities, in the assessment of environmental impacts of these projects.


In addition, there is an alarming situation regarding the state of the environment in the six EaP countries identified by the European Integration Index, including inter alia the level of soil erosion, which is very high (exceeding in some countries the EU-27 average by up to 3 times), while the natural area under protection is too limited to effectively protect biodiversity and related ecosystem benefits and services (as little as a quarter of the average percentage of area under protection in the European Union).


Drawing from the conclusions mentioned above, we call for clear targets for EaP countries on key achievements required in Environmental Governance to improve the State of Environment.


We agree that the convergence of main cross-cutting environmental legislation (EIA, SEA, AI and PP) and improving the environmental data collection and processing are key priorities to show more effective environmental performance. However, two years of Flagship Initiative have not been enough to reach its ambitious goals, especially when measurable objectives and time-frames were not defined.


In summary, we call for the inclusion of Environmental Governance into the political agenda of the EaP Summit in Vilnius in order to promote forceful action on environmental reforms in the EaP countries.


In particular, it is necessary to:


1)       Start a High-level dialogue with CSF involvement on Environmental Governance reform at the 2013 EaP Summit and ensure bilateral follow-up;


2)       Extend the Road-map with more concrete actions to ensure legally binding environmental policy integration into sectoral and regional programmes and plans;


3)       Review the Environmental Governance Flagship Initiative and support more concrete and measurable targets for cross-cutting environmental legislation adoption (on Environmental Impact Assessment, Strategic Environmental Assessment, Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice on environmental matters);


4)       Link the Shared Environmental Information System initiative with modernising environmental monitoring system programmes and involve NGOs in complex discussion on reliable information provision for effective environmental decision-making;


5)       Ensure the promotion of environmental democracy values in tripartite dialogues in the EaP countries.

[1] The assessments conducted by CSF WG 3

“Towards Good Environmental Governance in the Eastern Partnership countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine” (assessing the EaP Flagship initiative) is available at:

European Integration Index in Environment and Sustainable Development

Please, contact WG3 Coordinators for more details


Project funded by the European UnionEU