UNECE delivers a wide range of technical assistance and capacity building activities to support the countries of the Caucasus and Eastern Europe to enhance strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and transboundary environmental impact assessment (EIA). An effective system for environmental assessments prevents and mitigates damage to the environment and health from economic growth. After the COVID-19 pandemic, which challenged healthcare systems and economies world-wide, economic recovery efforts make systematic and effective environmental assessment more necessary than ever.
The Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) and the UNECE Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (Protocol on SEA) provide robust legal and institutional frameworks and effective procedures that will help countries in their efforts to green the recovery, and support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and climate commitments.
Since 2019, UNECE assistance to the countries has been provided within the “European Union for Environment” (EU4Environment) programme in the Eastern Partnership countries.
Under the EU4Environment programme, UNECE helps the countries to fully align their national legislation with the Protocol on SEA, the Espoo Convention, along with the European Union’s Directives on SEA and EIA. The countries are also being supported to build capacities for applying environmental assessments more effectively and systematically.
On 29 June 2022, the countries convened in a virtual subregional workshop on the practical application of SEA and transboundary EIA organized by UNECE. The event gathered more than 90 representatives of environmental and sectoral authorities to discuss the progress and lessons learnt by the countries on the development of SEA and EIA systems.
Several sessions of the event focused on the SEA pilot projects in the countries to provide useful recommendations, good practice examples and status updates for maximizing their effectiveness. The pilot projects are a key element of the current capacity-building activities that are currently getting underway in nearly all of the countries.
The event provided the opportunity to address concrete topical issues identified by the countries, for example, health in SEA, effective public participation and financial aspects of environmental assessments, also taking into account good practice examples from other countries in the region. The event contributed to promoting subregional cooperation in the area of SEA and EIA and to strengthening environmental assessment systems at the national level. It further built on the developments and achievements in the field of SEA and transboundary EIA since a previous subregional workshop organized in 2020.