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There is a need to change something in the approaches of public participation promoting processes. The results of the Task Force on Public Participation under the Aarhus Convention
19.12.2016
On December 15-16, the seventh meeting of the Task Force on Public Participation in Decision-making under the Aarhus Convention was held in Geneva, Switzerland, which was also attended by the representatives of the Armenian Aarhus Centres: coordinators of Ararat and Gyumri Aarhus Centers. Mr. Khachatur Khachatryan, head of the Legal Department of the Ministry of Nature protection was also invited, who is also coordinating the Aarhus Convention in Armenia.

According to the agenda of on the first day, the participants heard the experience of other countries with regard to the topic.

In accordance with the agenda Galust Nanyan, coordinator of Ararat Aarhus Center presented the experience of the Armenian Aarhus Centers, as a tool for promoting public participation in the decision-making regarding environmental issues the theme of community participation, with the example of Melik village, Aragatsotn region.

After the report the representative of WECF Company (Women in Europe for a Common Future, Finland) welcoming the speech was interested how the legislation in the field of mining industry is operating in Armenia and who is responsible in such cases.

The head of Legal Department of the RA MNP thoroughly representing the Armenian legislation with regard to the field, marked that at the end such issues are resolved within the legal context.
In accordance with the agenda the best practices regarding the public participation in decision-making of their countries were also presented by representatives of Georgia, Norway, Ukraine, Serbia and other countries.

Interestingly, the speech of Sabina Ivanovich, the representative of the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection was dedicated to the practice of public participation in the EIA procedure processes.

During the second day, Mr. Khachatur Khachatryan reported on the legislative field of Armenia, obstacles, acquisitions, changes planned to improve public participation in decision-making regarding the expansion of existing activities, then gave exhaustive answers to the questions raised.

Jerzy Yeendroski, representative of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee in his reports referred both to the pillars of Aarhus Convention and the Espoo Convention which related to the public participation in the context of decision-making.

Presenting their experience the representative of “Tibet” Aarhus Center of Tajikistan mentioned that since Tajikistan’s remote areas are deprived of the Internet, television and the press, they have chosen the schools as a tool for information exchange. “Spreading information in the schools, children themselves become transmitters of information to family, neighbors and the whole society, thus providing the public with information, and they are becoming participant in the decision making process.”

A report on the issues with regard to the fulfilment of the signed agreements, highlighting the role of women and youth in promoting public participation in decision-making was made by the representative of «WECF International» organization.

Then the representative of the Armenian delegation Tigran Mkrtchyan, coordinator of Gyumri Aarhus Center, noted that women’s participation is particularly important: on the one hand they are spending more time on the children care and education, on the other hand, the most teachers of the schools are women and they are very important and reliable “bridges” to transmit the right signals to the youth.
The Armenian delegation also raised the question, how is it that countries are joining to the international treaties and agreements, but are not able to fully implement their commitments.

In promoting the application of the international agreements is very important to consider that developing countries are often not willing to “replicate” the experience of developed countries, and as a result, governments often sign international agreements, that remain on paper, but instead we have a participatory process manipulation.

The Armenian delegation considered necessary to change something in the approaches of promotion of participatory processes.

Details of the meeting are available at the following link:
http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=42573#/ .

Galust Nanyan
Coordinator of Ararat Aarhus Center
Editor: Mari Chakryan
Translated by Anush Beybutyan