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First Eastern Partnership ministerial on the environment

UN Environment has contributed to the first ever formal ministerial meeting on climate change and the environment of Eastern Partnership countries.


Ministers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine met with their counterparts from the EU member states as well as with the European Commissioners for Environment and Neighbourhood Policy and international and non-governmental organizations in Luxembourg on 17-18 October.


At a dinner preceding the formal meeting, the ministers reflected on the benefits of decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation - and ways in which the transition can be carried further - through a presentation by the “Greening Economies in the European Union’s Eastern Partnership Countries” (EaP GREEN) project.


EaP GREEN has already led to approved national action plans and laws for the Green Economy transition, cooperation taking place on resource efficiency with over 200 companies and farmers being supported to attend international trade fairs, UN Environment Regional Director Jan Dusik highlighted in a presentation together with Stephen Sicars, Environment Director at the UN Industrial Development Organisation, at the ministerial dinner.


The project ensures that national plans and policies get on a sustainable path, supports the use of environmental assessments and helps demonstration projects such as on organic farming and more sustainable manufacturing get underway. It is funded by the EU and delivered by the two UN agencies together with the UN Economic Commission for Europe and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.


During the ministerial meeting, which was held back-to-back with the EU Environment Council, several ministers expressed their wish for EaP GREEN to continue in future.


In the first Declaration adopted by Eastern Partnership countries and the EU and its member states, both sides committed to pursue regional cooperation on environment, climate action and sustainable development in the frame of this partnership. Ministers also agreed to actively engage in and enable effective implementation of programmes such as EaP GREEN.


In the Declaration, the countries committed to further greening their economies by – for example – ensuring that all policy planning takes the environment into account and that different ministries work together towards environmental objectives, given their interdependent nature


“The EU will continue to support Eastern Partnership countries in their efforts to build a resource and energy-efficient economy, to the benefit of all our citizens,” said Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement. Given the transboundary nature of environmental challenges, the cooperation is “imperative,” affirmed his counterpart for the Environment, Commissioner Karmenu Vella.


Several Eastern Partnership countries also made commitments to take green economy actions under the Batumi Initiative on Green Economy adopted earlier this year. Moldova is to support green small and medium enterprises, Belarus is to develop a law on organic agriculture, while both countries committed to implement their national green economy actions plans, for example.


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