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Summary of the round table meeting on the subjects of “The Priority Directions of RA Sustainable Development” and “The Primary Ecological Problems in RA”

The YSU Sustainable Development Center (SDC) organized a round-table meeting on the subject of “The Priority Directions of RA Sustainable Development” and “The Primary Ecological Problems in RA” in order to sum up the activities implemented by the SDC and to discuss the results of the work. The meeting was held in the YSU Geography and Geology Faculty conference hall on December 9, 2014. Among the participants were Thomas Dembski and Gohar Ghazinyan, representatives of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, Ashot Mirzoyan from the Consumers Support Center,Levon Galstyan from the environmental front, Arthur Grigoryan from the PO of “Save Teghut Initiative”,

Silva Ayvazyan and Greta Gabrielayan, expert, from the “Aarhus” center, Aida Iskoyan from the YSU Scientific – Educational Center for Environmental Law, other representatives of public and scientific organizations, as well as employees of the YSU faculty and scientific centers, students. On the whole, over 60 participants attended the meeting. It was presented by the YSU PR administration in the “Yerevan State University” magazine, the YSU website and “Ecolur” informational portal. The program was carried out by the SDC under the auspices of the OSCE Office in Yerevan.

At the round table meeting the opening speech was delivered by Ruben Movsesyan, Head of the SDC, Head of Chair of Prospecting and Exploration of Mineral Deposits of the YSU Geography and Geology Faculty, Candidate of Geologic-mineralogical sciences. He breifly presented SDC’s activity and the main goals of the meeting.

The opening speech was followed by a report on “The Priority Directions of RA Sustainable Development” delivered by Alexander Margarov, expert in the YSU Sustainable Development Center, head of YSU International Cooperation Office. After presenting the activities implemented on the above mentioned subject, A. Margarov also dwelled upon such subjects as the directions of sustainable development on the whole as well as the possibilities of their implementation in Armenia. He singled out five main directions. As he mentioned, “Sustainable development is the type of development that meets actual demands without endangering the possibility of future generations to satisfy their own needs. Each country bears its own responsibility for its economic and social development, and thus it is impossible to overestimate the role that national policy and natural resources play in sustainable development”. A. Margarov singled out several priorities in the environmental sphere of sustainable development:

1. A country has the right to elaborate its own resources according to its national policy and environmental demands, meanwhile bearing the responsibility to prevent the harms its activity might cause to the population. 2. An open and beneficial economic system the development of which can lead to an economic rise and sustainable development both in Armenia and in the whole region. It is necessary to solve the problems of poverty and reduce the drastic differences between social strata. 3. Provide the participation of social groups in the process of sustainable development: it is necessary to realize the role of civil society and the active participation of each of its members in the process of sustainable development. 4. Provide liberty and security in a politically unstable region. 5. The transition to a sustainable development should be carried out in the framework of global partnership of international cooperation.

Examining these five priority directions made it possible to single out the following ten directions of sustainable development in Armenia:
1. Eradicate poverty.
2. Carry out researches in the sphere of agriculture. Organize the efficient utilization and transmission of this knowledge.
3. Examine the exhaustible and inexhaustible sources of energy.
4. Examine the sphere of tourism.
5. Provide employment of population and integration of all strata into the society: this will contribute to poverty reduction.
6. It is necessary to elaborate rational approaches towards the utilization of chemicals and emission of toxic wastes. The rational utilization of chemicals is important for public health and environmental security.
7. It is necessary to enhance international cooperation for the aim of educational reforms.
8. It is necessary to provide equality in the society, participation of different social groups as well as of women in making decisions about the political and economic life of the country.
9. Highlight the cooperation of different structures in sustainable development.
10. Contribute to the formation of a peaceful and open society.

The set forward goals suppose and demand solution of problems in the spheres of economy, ecology, public administration, education and the social sphere.

In the second part of the meeting reports on the subject of “The Primary Ecological Problems in RA” were delivered by Ruben Movsesyan, Head of the YSU Sustainable Development Center, and Marat Grigoryan, expert of the Center, Dean of the YSU Geography and Geology Faculty. During the report were discussed the questions and directions that need special attention and examination.
The speakers drew forward three important questions which concerned the efficient utilization of underground resources, reduction of ecological risks, problems of water resource management, and prevention of landslides.

M. Grigoryan mentioned that the active exploitation of RA underground resources is carried out mainly by foreign companies. As a result, Armenia is left with trivial interests obtained from ecological and exploitation payments and /or charged by tax agencies. The most important and in the meantime the most negative fact is that the Armenian lands get covered by massive wastes formed as a result of the mining activity. The mines are exploited unconscientiously, and the enrichment tails accumulated in the tailings are hazardous for the environment.

The second vital question raised by the speaker concerned the efficient management of water resources. During this year 240 mln cubic meters of water has been released from lake Sevan for the purpose of irrigation, but it was not sufficient for the rural communities. Because of the cisterns built by Turkey on the banks of the river Araks, the cistern of Akhuryan belonging to Armenia has had water deficit, which has prevented the everyday irrigation water release. Other serious problems are caused by the wells used for fishery in Ararat Valley. The sphere of water management in Armenia is deficient. Thus, land users keep from the target land utilization, 35% of land in Ararat Valley is uncultivated, most of the land is not used purposefully, i.e. the tillage has turned into hayfields and pastures.

The third question concerned the landslides in the territory of Armenia, their hazards, risk evaluation and prevention. In his speech M. Grigoryan spoke about the investigations carried out by the Japanese company “Jaika” in the territory of Armenia several years ago and the discovered landslide hearths. These investigations have discovered 250 landslide areas. In fact, there are 200 risky landslide areas in Armenia, three of which should be singled out – the landslides of Voghjaberd, Dilijan and Ughedzor. Actually, these flows are not classical landslides but rather collapses that have a technogenic origin. It is very important and necessary that the examinations of landslides be carried out by professional organizations under the government and not by local self-government bodies which lack relevant specialists and equipment.

In his speech Head of the YSU Sustainable Development Center R. Movsesyan summed up the Center’s activity from 2012 to 2014, presenting the main directions and the results of the carried out researches. Drawing forward the formed suggestions, R. Movsesyan emphasized the fact that the Center’s suggestions related to legislative changes for the improvement of the sphere have been included in the project papers formed in the process of elaboration of conceptual approaches about making changes in the national policy of natural resource management and in the RA Natural Resources Code, as well as in the “Underground Resource exploitation, Environment and Health of Population” section of the 2015-2025 national policy concepts for the fulfillment of the decisions of the “Rio+20” Assembly. R. Movsesyan also referred to the forthcoming programs of the Center. The reports were accompanied by corresponding presentations which made the presented material even more explicit.

The main reports were followed by an active discussion. Numerous questions and suggestions were raised concerning sustainable development, different problems of ecology and rational utilization of underground resources, water and energy resource management, etc.

At the end of the meeting Ashot Mirzoyan, Levon Galstyan, Aida Iskoyan and Greta Gabrielyan made their speeches.

The program was carried out in the YSU Sustainable Development Center with the support of the OSCE Office in Yerevan.

Head of the YSU Sustainable Development Center,
Candidate of Geologic-mineralogical sciences R. Movsesyan