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The Aarhus Convention and its application at the local level. Aparan

06.11.2017

Aparan Aarhus Center held an awareness raising event entitled “The application of the Aarhus Convention in terms of ensuring public participation in environmental decision-making: positive experience “. It was initiated by “A. D. Sakharov Armenian Human Rights Center” NGO, with the support of the Public Awareness and Monitoring Center NGO within the framework of “Raising awareness on the implementation of the Aarhus Convention in Armenia” project.
The event was mainly attended by teachers of schools of Aparan community and representatives of the administration.

At the beginning of the course, the Aarhus Center Coordinator presented participants the main pillars of the Convention, informed that the Aarhus Convention is a linkage between the human environmental right and the environment security, the access to environmental information and the public involvement in environmental decision making are important factors for the society and for the development of democracy in the whole country.

The attendees learned what is the environmental information, what rights it defines for citizens, what responsibilities the Aarhus Convention imposes on state bodies, how the government officials should provide proper public awareness on environmental issues, which are the obligations of public authorities to engage the public in the decision-making process.

Then the participants were presented a presentation on environmental issues of Aparan and adjacent communities, about the reasons for their occurrence (mining industry, small hydropower plants, household wastes, pollution of Kasakh River and reservoirs, etc.).

The Center Coordinator presented a few examples of positive experience of the Center on the application of the Convention in practice.

Thus, the exploitation of the Tukhmanuk gold-polymetallic mine near Melikgyugh has led to a number of environmental, social, health and industrial safety issues and the negative attitude of the community with regard to the future activities of the mine.

Being aware of their right to access information and participate in the decision-making process regarding the community’s environmental issues set out in the Convention, the residents struggled for their right to live in a safe and secure environment. Currently the mine exploitation is suspended.
At the end of the event a discussion was held, during which it was mentioned that some positive progress was observed in public participation in the decision-making process, in terms of reducing indifference among residents towards the community faced problems, but there are still many communities in the community whose participation in community-based decision-making processes is insignificant or bears formal character and and their knowledge of their environmental rights, as well as the issue of involving community-related or community issues into an initiative, the culture of making proposals and formulation of a parctice is becoming a necessity of time.

Natalya Manukyan
“Public Awareness and Monitoring Center” NGO

“The content of the article, the views and opinions expressed therein belong to the author and may not coincide with the views of the A. D. Sakharov Human Rights Center NGO.”