Capacity building for NGOs for effective participation in environmental decision-making through elaboration of relevant policy tools and awareness raising
Capacity building for NGOs for effective participation in environmental decision-making through elaboration of relevant policy tools and awareness raising
Environmental decision-making procedure given its specific nature is merely decentralized, though the final decisions are taken by the central authorities. Therefore, effective participation of NGOs in the early stage of decision-making is crucial. Timely and meaningful public participation contributes to adoption of substantiated and well-grounded decisions. This will enhance responsibility and contribution by NGOs to implement the adopted decisions.
Current legislation of RA (Law of RA “On Legal Acts”) provides general framework to ensure public participation in environmental decision-making, though certain gaps and uncertainties related to the procedure of participation remain to be addressed. Along with this, lack or insufficient level of necessary capacity of many environmental NGOs (legal knowledge and relevant skills to build constructive dialogue with decision-makers) for informed and well-based participation coupled with the lack of appropriate platform for policy dialogue, eliminate the quality and impact of this basic procedural right. Consequently, often the NGOs don’t assess situation adequately from the legal perspective, and their efforts are simply in vain.
In summary, current state of legislation accompanied with drawbacks in formed practice underline the necessity of targeted regulation of public participation in environmental decision-making related to elaboration of draft legal acts concerning to environment. Establishment of appropriate legislative framework as well as platform to facilitate effective dialogue for ensuring meaningful public participation in environmental decision-making is in line with international obligations of the RA deriving from the UN/ECE Convention “On access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters” (Aarhus, 1998). Particularly, the Strategic Plan 2009-2014 and the Work program 2012-2014 of the Aarhus Convention envisage, as priorities, coordination of information-sharing, including through the collection of case studies on implementation inter alia of article 8 (public participation in elaboration of draft legal acts related to environment) of the Convention; identification of difficulties in implementation and the main obstacles to effective public participation at the national level with respect to improving implementation of the Convention’s provisions on public participation in decision-making. The activities mentioned above are to be conducted at national level, and to this end cooperation between NGOs and public authorities is highly appreciated. The activities within the framework of the current project are in line with strategic areas and main goals of the Aarhus Convention, and they are explicitly covered by the project objectives.

The overall objective of the project is to facilitate policy dialogue between environmental NGOs and public authorities responsible for environmental decision-making with the aim to contribute to strengthening of the “rule of law” principle in environmental governance. Enhanced responsibility from the side of NGOs with respect to adherence to the requirements of the adopted decisions is among key effects of effective participation. The specific objectives of the project are:
1. Elaboration and publication of a Methodology (Guide) on public participation in environmental decision-making and conducting awareness-raising and capacity-building trainings for NGOs;
2. Development of a web-platform to facilitate policy dialogue in the sphere of public participation in environmental decision-making;
3. Elaboration of draft Governmental decree of RA “On approval of public participation rules for the procedure of elaboration of legal acts related to environment”.
In order to achieve the objectives mentioned above the following measures are envisaged to be conducted:
1. Analyses of current national legislation regulating the public participation framework and practice thereof to identify the problems and their correlation. Environmental NGOs and representatives of public authorities will be invited to have their input in the analysis. This study will serve as a background for elaboration of the methodology on participation in environmental decision-making. Along with this, the results of the study will help to streamline the key approaches for elaboration of the web-page.
2. Key approaches and guidelines to address both the drawbacks in legislation and practice will be synthesized in a comprehensive methodology which will encompass relevant commentary as well. The methodology is envisaged to be published and distributed among the stakeholders. It will be made available electronically as well.
3. Conducting awareness-raising (on environmental legislation) and capacity-building (for effective participation) trainings for local environmental NGOs and representatives of regional authorities on the basis of regional Aarhus Centers will promote awareness-rising of the environmental NGOs. Representatives of Mass media will also be invited to attend the trainings to enhance the quality of environmental communication.
4. Development of an autonomous web-site which will encompass comprehensive and periodically updated information on decision-making procedure in general and on the processes with regard to specific draft legal acts. The web-based resource will contain also the relevant database of environmental legislation related to decision-making. Compared with other online resources, the planned web-page will enable and ensure the following:
- timely posting of relevant draft legal acts and any opinions concerning them, submitted by NGOs, public authorities and other stakeholders (including the respective answers by the public authority to the submissions);
- relevant guidance on preparation of an opinion with respect to specific draft legal acts;
- in-built opinion sample (with relevant fields and guidance) to ensure online submission of opinions which will be made available in a timely manner after preliminary review. The review will be intended to exclude any content to overthrow of the constitutional order, incitement to national, racial and religious hatred, propaganda of violence of warfare. At the same time, this filtration in no case shall eliminate the possibility of equal participation;
- professional online consulting on preparation of an opinion with respect to a specific draft legal act will be provided as and if necessary;
- package of respective legislation concerning specific draft legal acts;
- up-to-date database of the environmental legislation of RA (including ratified international environmental agreements) classified by subject to ensure/facilitate quick and targeted search;
- database of environmental NGOs and relevant information on main specialization/focus areas to promote networking and cooperation as and if necessary.

Along with the features above the web-resource will serve as a platform for dialogue between the civil society and decision-makers. In order to facilitate transparency of decision-making procedure the web-resource will be co-administered in parallel by EPAC NGO, the Ministry of Nature Protection of RA, the Ministry of Justice of RA and the National Assembly of RA. Public authority (their legal departments and IT specialists) is supposed to make available the draft legal acts and accompanying documentation in timely manner. EPAC NGO will be responsible for the content of the web-resource and review of the opinions to exclude any content to overthrow of the constitutional order, incitement to national, racial and religious hatred, propaganda of violence of warfare. In addition, EPAC NGO will provide online links to related legislation for each draft legal act to help users easily access relevant national and international regulation.
5. The demo version of the web-resource will be approbated with respect to the preparation process of the draft Law of RA “On use of genetically modified organisms”. In case if this draft is adopted or withdrawn before that time, another draft law with significant impact will be chosen for approbation. Outcomes of this stage will result in possible corrections to the draft Governmental decree of RA “On approval of public participation rules for the procedure of elaboration of legal acts related to environment”.
6. Elaboration of a draft Governmental decree of RA “On approval of public participation rules for the procedure of elaboration of legal acts related to environment”.
7. Holding consultations with policy makers in order to finalize the draft and submit it to the Government of RA [via the Ministry of Nature Protection of RA and the Ministry of Justice of RA].
8. Presentation of the project outcomes.
 
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Project Snapshot

Grantee:
Environmental Public Advocacy Center NGO
Country:
Armenia
Area Of Work:
CapDev
Grant Amount:
US$ 39,555.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 980.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 24,865.00
Project Number:
ARM/EU-NGOs/OP5/Y3/2014/02
Status:
Satisfactorily Completed

Grantee Contact

Ms. Aida Iskoyan
Phone: +374 10 559602
Email: epac@arminco.com
 

Address

45 Khanjyan St., Apt. 1
Yerevan , 0001

SGP Country office contact

Mr. Hovhannes Ghazaryan
Phone:
+374 60 530000+116
Fax:
(+374 10) 543811
Email:
Ms. Svetlana Harutyunyan
Phone:
+374 60 530000+117
Email:

Address

14 Adamyan St.
Yerevan, 0010

Country Website