Monday, November 12, 2007

Nansen Institute advances Environmental Management in Armenia…

The Fridtjof Nansen Institute of Norway organized a seminar in Armenia this fall on international environmental obligations, implementation, and public participation. Armenia has ratified a number of international environmental treaties, but there are substantial obstacles in the implementation process, according to a press release from the Nansen Institute.

“In our dialogue with Armenian governmental bodies and civil society, we have tried to encourage a change towards the need for political will as well as political feasibility in the ongoing implementation process,” states Pål Skedsmo of the Nansen Institute.

The seminar discussed the implementation process and significance of multilateral environmental treaties ratified by Armenia, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Cartagena protocol on Biosafety, the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making, and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention), and the Convention of the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Berne Convention).

The seminar included discussions on the role of civil society and environmental NGOs. Civil society in Armenia is getting stronger and more assertive, according to the Nansen Institute, but is nevertheless riddled by many of the challenges facing civil society in post-Soviet states such as weak support from the state, limited public participation, and a reliance on international donors.

“These seminars--where a broad range of civil servants as well as civil society representatives participate--facilitate and improve dialogue between various sectors. Several of the participants said they would bring the discussions back to their various ministries in order to continue enhancing cross-sectoral cooperation,” concluded Skedsmo.

The Nansen Institute has a web page for the “Environmental Management and Civil Society in Armenia” project, as well as the presentations from this seminar. These include “International Environmental Institutions: An Overview of Development and Significance” by Steinar Andresen, “Development of Protected Areas in Armenia” by Karen Manvelyan, and “Environmental NGOs in Armenia: Their Relations to Authorities and International Donors” by Anna Jenderedjian.