The EaP Index Environment and Climate Policy Indicator measures EaP countries’ environmental protection and legislation with two indicators: one on Environment and Climate Policy (Approximation) and one on Environment Legislation and Co-operation (Linkage).
Raisers in 2017 ↑
Decliners in 2017 ↓
During 2017, the most convincing progress in the adoption and revision of essential environmental and climate policies was achieved by Ukraine, taking over from now second-placed Moldova, then followed by Armenia and Belarus. Georgia and Azerbaijan slowed down their efforts.
The linkages of the EaP countries with the EU in the sphere of the environment are quite complex. On the one hand, most EaP countries have joined key environment-related international conventions, as well as having signed multiple bilateral treaties with the EU. Five EaP countries – the exception is Georgia – have joined the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (ESPOO Convention), and all of them are parties to the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters. The number of environment bilateral agreements with the EU varies from 33 in the case of Azerbaijan to 7 in the case of Armenia. On the other hand, the implementation of these agreements remains weak.
In Ukraine and Moldova, a framework environmental policy has been adopted, and Ukraine is finalising the revision of the State Environmental Strategy (the strategy is adopted by law). In the other four EaP countries, the process of consideration of a framework environmental policy, in the format of a strategy or programme, with strong legal status, is still pending, or the status remains internal (adopted only by the Ministry of Environment), or a plan to elaborate it has not been implemented.
Only Ukraine made progress in setting measurable goals and objectives. In other countries, the policies are either not measurable or only partially measurable. The existing strategic documents contain fully or partially the planned institutional reforms and divisions of competence for environmental administration at national, regional, and municipal levels. However, the procedures for decision-making and implementation, the promotion of the integration of environmental policy into other policy areas, and the identification of the requisite human and financial resources, have not been assured. Review mechanisms are also reflected only partially.
Stakeholder involvement procedures were assessed as satisfactory or partially satisfactory in five countries. The exception was Georgia, which continues to lack public engagement during the policy preparation stage. Typical gaps in stakeholders’ involvement procedures concerned insufficient publicity for announcements of public consultations and limited feedback on their results. Only in the case of Ukraine did the authorities publish a table outlining which stakeholder comments had been included and which had not, and an accompanying analysis with explanations, but even in Ukraine this is still not standard practice.
National legislation in Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia requires the obligatory integration of environmental policy into economic sectors’ policies, while progress has been made by all countries on the adoption of the main horizontal instruments of strategic environmental assessment and environmental impact assessment according to international standards. Step-by-step improvements are being made in the preparation of sectoral environmental policies, such as water resources management, waste and resources management, nature protection, industrial pollution and chemicals.
Institutional weaknesses, and a lack of assessment systems, hinder a comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of the implementation of environmental policies. In the case of Georgia and Moldova, potential institutional shortfalls include the combination in one ministry of both the environment and agriculture portfolios at a time when environmental considerations and sustainable development should play a bigger role in policies concerning both agricultural production and regional development. Evaluation of implementation of policies is complicated by the fact that out of 42 main UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) environmental indicators, Moldova provides statistics for only three, Azerbaijan eight, Georgia 14 (slightly grown), Ukraine 17, and Belarus 27 (slightly increased). Armenia, with 37 indicators, is the only country close to the benchmark of 42.
Climate Change policy
All countries ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, but only Moldova and Ukraine adopted a national action plan on climate change mitigation as a separate document or as part of the climate change policy implementation plan, in accordance with international obligations.
In Moldova, a national strategy on climate change adaptation was adopted. In the other countries, strategies are at varying stages of preparation. All six countries are working on developing sectoral strategies on climate change adaptation, some of which have already been adopted, and all countries have dedicated departments or bodies dealing with climate change issues.
The majority of the six countries are party to a range of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and continue to ratify signed agreements or are preparing accession.
Azerbaijan and Georgia are the least active in multilateral agreements. Ukraine no longer has non-compliance status within the Aarhus Convention and is finalising the implementation of the Espoo Convention’s recommendations to restore compliance, Armenia was non-compliant within the Aarhus convention, and compliance cases are under consideration with respect to the Aarhus Convention in the cases of both Moldova and Belarus. Other countries were not determined by the Conventions’ Meetings of Parties (MOPs) to be in non-compliance with environmental MEAs (Georgia is not a party to the Espoo Convention), but the majority of EaP countries need to improve their reporting on environmental MEAs, and at least to increase transparency and to make reports on MEA implementation available to the public on the internet. ( The UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters – known as the Aarhus Convention – established a number of rights of the public (to access to environmental information and public participation in environmental decision-making. http://ec.europa.eu/ environment/aarhus/. The Espoo Convention (Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context) sets out obligations to assess the environmental impact of activities at an early stage of planning, and for consultations on major projects with the potential to have a significant environmental impact across boundaries. http:// www.unece.org/env/eia/eia.html)
Legislation on the prevention and control of invasive alien species is in place only in Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine, at the preparation stage in Moldova, partially provided in Azerbaijan, and absent in Armenia. Only Ukraine (three) and Belarus (one) have established UNESCO Transboundary biosphere reserves, related to which joint management bodies were established.
Ukraine is the most active country in bilateral co-operation, having concluded more than 50% of the possible total number of bilateral environmental agreements with EU and EaP countries. The number has increased in the case of Georgia, which has signed agreements with 42% of the potential partner countries, while the other EaP countries have concluded between 20% and 30%. Azerbaijan is the least active in concluding bilateral agreements.