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If Armenia is Ready to Ratify the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Register
The fifth meeting of the Working Group of the Parties to the Protocol on PRTRs took place in Geneva from 23 to 24 November 2016 in the Palais des Nations Geneva, Switzerland. From Armenia the meeting was attended by Nune Hovhannisyan, National Coordinator of the PRTR Protocol, Arman Martirosyan, deputy director of “Information Analytical Center” SNCO of the MNP, Harutyun Movsisyan, expert of the Center for Sustainable Development of YSU and Silva Ayvazyan, coordinator of Yerevan Aarhus Center. The working group discussed the steps taken towards the protocol in the states. Ukraine and Malta were welcomed as new Parties.

It was discussed the PRTR Protocol connection and compliance with the other conventions.

The Secretariat of the Aarhus Convention and the PRTR Protocol called upon partner organizations and multilateral environmental agreements to cooperate with the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (Air Convention), the ECE Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents, the ECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, the UNEP chemicals conventions and other relevant agreements and programmes, and also those involved in pollutant release and transfer register projects carried out by international organizations, so as to ensure coordination and synergy at the national level.

In this regard Armenia’s representative submitted a proposal: in order to comply emission mechanisms and adopt a common methodology for the calculation of land, water and atmospheric emissions.

The secretariat reported on recent developments regarding electronic tools, including the Aarhus Clearinghouse for Environmental Democracy and www.PRTR.net. In addition, the representative of OECD presented a new version of the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals Toolbox for Decision Making in Chemicals Management. The Toolbox provided Governments with an interactive platform for collaboration among different ministries, agencies and other stakeholders. The representative of UNITAR informed the Working Group about new developments on the PRTR:Learn website, and stressed the importance of “an expert forum” that would become part of the new PRTR:Learn as a tool to discuss issues related to pollutant release and transfer registers online.

They also discussed issues of increasing annual contributions by member states. The EU representatives had submitted a proposal to the Secretariat to make annual payments “mandatory” instead of “volunteer” and to pay1000 euros fee instead of 500, for both the member countries to the Protocol, and the signatory ones. The National Coordinator of the PRTR Protocol in Armenia raised an objection in this regard, noting that the Armenian government is not willing to pay that amount. She also considered it wrong to limit approval of the annual fee for both the member to the Protocol, and the signatory countries.

A key issue at the meeting was also the preparations for the 3rd meeting of the parties to the PRTR Protocol and the 6th meeting of the Aarhus Convention to be held in September, 2017 in Budva, Montenegro. It was discussed Budva draft declaration, which was posted on the Secretariat website and is still open for submission of proposals: (http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/pp/prtr/WGP-5/ODS/ENG/ECE_MP.PRTR_WG.1_2016_13_E.pdf).

Note that protocol was signed by Armenia in 2003, but has not yet been ratified and in accordance with the national coordinator there are a number of obstacles in that direction in the country, both in institutional and technical terms. According to Nune Hovhannisyan first of all should be created a basis for the establishment of the National Register of Emissions: computer software localization and installation, technical capacity development in enterprises etc.
The Aarhus Centers in Armenia and NGO representatives believe that ratification of the protocol cannot be achieved all at once, but gradually, in small steps.

The ratification of a number of conventions by Armenia related to the accessibility and access to environmental information, as well as the Armenia’s desire to join to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), can be an additional background and incentive towards the ratification of the PRTR Protocol by Armenia and taking serious steps in this direction.
Currently in Armenia are carried out certain activities in terms of pollutant emissions registration by different services: emissions monitoring by monitoring centers, presentation of statistical services data on emissions by some business owners and etc. There are great opportunities for the consolidation all of this and presentation with a common methodology, which can contribute to the ratification of PRTR Protocol.

One of the issues set on the agenda at the upcoming workshop organized jointly by Yerevan Aarhus center and “Public Awareness and Monitoring Center” NGO for the representatives economic entities is the PRTR Protocol. It is intended to inform the working group of the protocol on the workshop results.

Silva Ayvazyan,
Coordinator of Yerevan Aarhus Center
Harutyun Movsisyan,
Expert at the YSU “Sustainable Development Center”
Editor: Mari Chakryan
Translated by Anush Beybutyan