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Georgia is currently not a Party to the UNECE’s Espoo Convention on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in a Transboundary Context and its Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). The country signed, but has not ratified the SEA Protocol.
In responses to existing challenges for efficient application of SEA and EIA and to better prepare for accession to the treaties the Ministry of Environment Protection of Georgia in cooperation with the UNECE Secretariat has been undertaking a number of steps to develop a national system to apply EIA and SEA procedures according to the provisions of the Convention and the Protocol, including:
(a)           Improving its legislative and institutional framework to fully comply with the Convention and the Protocol;
(b)           Defining roles and responsibilities of various authorities in the EIA and SEA processes;
(c)           Building national and local capacities, developing practical experience and national guidelines in application of the EIA and SEA procedures in line with the both treaties and relevant EU legislation;
(d)           Raising awareness and common understanding of the EIA and SEA benefits at national and local levels and in different sectors, including the benefits of public participation and the consultation of relevant authorities.

These activities have been implemented in the framework of the EU funded programme ‘Greening Economies in the Eastern Neighbourhood’ (EaP GREEN), which aims to help the Government of Georgia to establish an integrated policy framework for the transition to a green economy through: reforming policy instruments, adopting new analytical tools, improving access to finance, supporting capacity development, and rolling out pilot projects in the public and private sectors.
The first phase of the programme was carried out from September 2013 to August 2014 and included reviews of legislative and institutional frameworks for the application of EIA and SEA procedures (for EIA in 2013 and for SEA in 2014). The results of the reviews were discussed with the national stakeholders during the national roundtable meetings on 4 November 2013 (EIA) and on 25-26 August 2014 (SEA). The legislative reviews outlined that in order to comply with the provisions of the Espoo Convention, its Protocol and the relevant EU legislation, new laws on EIA and SEA should be created.
In addition, five national experts took part in the Study Tour on Sharing the Best Practices of the Czech Republic in the field of applying SEA in December 2014. They learned about the Czech SEA system by discussing challenges and success factors.
In the second phase of the programme the Ministry of Environment of Georgia worked closely with the UNECE international consultants to draft a new law on EIA and SEA. This phase extended from August 2014 to September 2015 and included several drafting group meetings (19 November 2014, 29 January 2015), consultations with other national authorities (19 May 201521 - 22 September 2015) and two public participation meetings (20 May 201522 September 2015). The outcomes were presented and discussed at the final round-table meeting to support development of a new law on environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment in Georgia organized on September 23 – 24, 2015.
Further, in December 2015, the EaP GREEN project supported a meeting for the high level officials to promote benefits of SEA. The event hosted the representatives from the Parliament of Georgia and 12 deputy Ministers responsible for economic and industrial development, energy, transport, agriculture, tourism, mining, forestry, and health, as well as the representatives and specialists from civil society organizations, international financial institutions and environmental authorities. Currently the draft law is been considered by the Government before its submission to the Parliament.
The third phase of the EaP GREEN project in Georgia was initiated by launching the SEA pilot in July 2015. Based on the discussions with the Ministry of Environment, the National Waste Management Strategy and Action Plan in Georgia was selected as a document to be a subject of SEA. The SEA pilot was conducted by the national SEA team supported by the international SEA experts in close cooperation with the waste management specialists drafting the Strategy and the Action Plan. For more information please see the dedicated website here.
In November 2015, Georgia hosted a regional EaP GREEN conference (2 November 2015) for exchange experiences on improving legal and institutional frameworks for application of EIA and SEA in the participating countries and a train-the-trainers workshop on SEA (3-6 November 2015). The national experts from Georgia (six altogether), who attended these events, are supposed to take further lead in SEA development in the country – mainly to provide training to the national stakeholders and to carry out SEAs with the minimum involvement of the international experts.
The priority in the implementation of the third phase of the EaP GREEN project in Georgia in 2016 was given to developing SEA and EIA guidelines/recommendations to support implementation of the Environmental Assessment Code, as well as on the training and awareness raising on SEA.
Preparation of the SEA guidelines was launched in February 2016 – the document aims at providing practical recommendations on how to apply the SEA procedure set out in the national legal framework. The working group, which played a key role in developing the SEA guidelines, was established in March 2016 consisting of the representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resource Protection, and the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, as well as the national and international experts. The first meeting of the working group was organized on April 22, 2016, followed by the second meeting in June 10, 2016. The second draft of the document was discussed at the third meeting (August 2016), while the pre-final version was a subject of the discussion at the working meeting in October 7th, 2016. The document was finalized in February 2017 (in both English and Georgian languages).
Drafting the guidelines on EIA was launched in July 2016. Similar to the SEA guidelines, the working group has been established, and its first meeting was organized in August 2016. The draft version was discussed with the working group members in September 2016 and the final version of the document was prepared in February 2017 (English version can be downloaded here).
Based on the experience from the pilot SEA, it was agreed that two dedicated trainings will be organized for the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resource Protection and the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs. The first workshop, organized in April 2016, focused on the scoping, while the second event addressed the quality control in SEA (28 November 2016). Also, 2-day awareness raising workshop on SEA for sectoral ministries was organized 30 November - 1 December 2016 in cooperation with EC-funded project (see below) to introduce recommendations on practical application of SEA and to clarify roles and responsibilities of various governmental agencies in SEA procedure.
In order to further support practical application of the SEA procedure as stipulated by the draft Environmental Assessment Code of Georgia, the training on SEA was held in Tbilisi on 27 April 2017.
The objectives of the final event (Tbilisi, 26 April 2017) were defined as follows:
  • To present the outcomes and results regarding SEA and EIA achieved within the EaP GREEN in Georgia;
  • To summarize the key principles of efficient SEA and EIA practice and is benefits;
  • To discuss priorities and needs regarding further development of SEA and EIA system in the country.

The conclusions from the discussion were integrated in the SEA/EIA capacity development strategy which was drafted in order to outline next steps and actions towards national SEA and EIA system meeting the requirements of international legal framework - especially the Espoo Convention and its Protocol on SEA, and EU SEA and EIA Directives. The final version of the document can be downloaded here.
Representatives of Georgia also participated at the second sub-regional workshop 'Sharing experience with introducing SEA and EIA in selected countries of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus', organized in Ukraine, 31 October - 2 November 2017.
The participants of the sub-regional events are supposed to take further lead in SEA development in the country - in particular to act as the lecturers in the training workshops and awareness raising events as well as to carry out SEAs with the use of the national expertise and knowledge to a maximum possible extent.
The EaP GREEN programme activities are well integrated into other donors’ assistance programmes, such a
  • A pilot SEA and Social Assessment of strategic development of power sector carried out with support of the World Bank and the European Bank on Reconstruction and Development;
  • A development of guidelines and recommendations to take into account cumulative impacts in Hydro-Power Projects supported by the German International Development Agency;
  • SEA and EIA training programmes by the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (June 2015 – April 2016);
  • Support to the Approximation in various fields as part of the environmental provisions under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement (EC-funded project under the Framework Contract Europeaid/132633/C/SER/multi) – the series of SEA and EIA workshops was conducted November 2016.

Main results and achievements
The adoption of the Environmental Assessment Code in 2017 can be considered as key step towards the implementation of the functional system for SEA and EIA application.
The successfully completed pilot SEA demonstrated the applicability of the SEA process in the Georgian context. It identified the key environmental and health issues related to the waste management, and based on the evaluation of likely effects, it formulated a number of recommendations on further enhancement of the waste management sector, which were to a large extent integrated in the final version of the Strategy and Action Plan. In this manner a significant number of key stakeholders (including decision-makers and planners beyond the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection) had opportunity to gain experience and insight in the SEA.
Further effect in this regard was generated also by the process of the development of the "Recommendations/Guidelines on Practical Application of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in Georgia", (and the corresponding Guidelines on EIA), where established working groups bringing together different stakeholders contributed to the overall awareness rising effort.
In response to the lessons learned from the activities conducted under the EaP GREEN, and observed challenges a "Capacity building strategy on strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and environmental impact assessment (EIA)" was prepared in 2017 to steer future capacity development effort and guide the donor assistance.
Should you have any question, please contact Ms. Elena Santer, Espoo Convention Secretariat, at [email protected], or Ms. Nino Tandilashvili, Head of National Environmental Agency, at [email protected].

The EaP GREEN programme aims to help the Government of Georgia to establish an integrated policy framework for the transition to a green economy through: reforming policy instruments, adopting new analytical tools, improving access to finance, supporting capacity development, and rolling out pilot projects in the public and private sectors.