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2.1 Legal and Regulatory Framework

The main legislative framework for environmental management relevant to the RESCAD Project are the Law on Principles of Environmental Protection (1991) and the Law on Environmental Expertise (1995). The latter law is currently being revised to provide a more comprehensive environmental expertise law and to bring it in line with western environmental review laws. It is currently (January 2005) in its third draft and is known as the Law of the Republic of Armenia on Environmental Review (Environmental Expertise). [It is important that the reader ensure that when referring to any law in the following that the most updated version of that law is referenced].

Law on Environmental Principles, the Green Constitution (1991)

The Law establishes the obligation of the State to care for the environment, prescribes the institutional framework for environmental management, and sets out the principles, approaches and instruments for environmental protection. The Law has a minimum normative value and has been used as an environmental policy document.

The aims of nature protection are:

  1. To ensure a right to a clean environment

  2. To protect natural resources and provide support to the improvement of flora and fauna

  3. To protect the ecological balance of the natural systems and land diversity

  4. To ensure the effective use of mineral resources

  5. To protect special natural ecosystems and national properties etc.

Law on Ecological Expertise (1995)

The current and existing Law establishes a framework to define impacts of intended activities on environment, assess feasible alternatives, minimize negative consequences and ensure public involvement. It contains a list of activities subjected to the expertise process. The State Agency for Environmental Expertise, within the Ministry of Nature Protection (MoNP), is responsible for carrying out the relevant procedures.

The main aim of the expertise is to foresee, prevent and minimize the negative impacts of planning activity for human health, environment, economic and social development.

The tasks of the expertise include:

  • Analysis of the alternatives and usefulness of the planning activity;

  • Assessment of environmental impacts of planning activity and its alternatives ;

  • Analysis of any consequences of the planning activity, and to determine the practicality of stated mitigation;

  • Ensure the effective use of natural resources;

  • Prevent activities that will have negative environmental impacts;

  • Ensure public participation and information on the expertise.

The list of activities (relevant to the RESCAD Project) which require expertise include:

  1. Community (city) building (construction)

  • Buildings, constructions and complexes which exceed certain limits

  1. Waste water stations

  2. Improving and restoring of natural eco-systems, which are damaged by anthropogenic affect

  3. Introduction of alien flora and fauna

  4. Agricultural

  • Land improvement, construction of irrigation or drainage networks (systems)

  • Land protection from erosion and other affects

  • Restoring forests and improving forest quality

  • Construction of water tanks and other constructions

  • Extraction of underground water

  1. Substructure

  • Roads, tunnel, bridge, underground, railway, airport construction exceeding certain limits

  1. Services

  • markets

The expertise must forecast, describe and assess the:

  1. direct and indirect impacts of the planned activity

  2. alternative variants, including the zero-impact variant, and choose which one is more effective

  3. the mitigating activities for the negative environmental impacts

  4. the assessment of environmental impacts of socio-economic development when zero-impact variant is chosen

  5. the local environment (cultural and socio-economic)

Other relevant laws

  • Law on Specially Protected Areas (1991)

  • Water Code (1992)

  • Forest Code (1994)

  • Law on Environmental Expertise (environmental assessment) (1995)

  • Law on Payments for Nature Protection and Use of Natural Resources (1998)

  • Law on Flora (1998)

  • Law on Fauna (draft)

  • Law on the Protection and Use of Fixed Cultural and Historic Monuments and Environment (1998)

  • Law on Lake Sevan (2001)

  • Law on Complex Program of Lake Sevan Ecosystem Restoration, Conservation, Reproduction and Use (2001)

  • Law on Annual Program of Lake Sevan Ecosystem Restoration, Conservation, Reproduction and Use (2001)

  • Law on Environmental Education and Public Awareness (2001)

Annex A sets out the main provisions of the laws mentioned above as well as other relevant regulatory instruments.

2.2 Regional and International Cooperation

Regional Cooperation2

Environmental cooperation occurs by means of implementing general international treaties and conventions as well as participating in regional processes and cooperating with various states or organizations. Regional trans-boundary issues are of a particular importance and several issues related to trans-boundary water are at stake, including those related to water use and pollution.

Armenia has been involved in a several activities under the “Environment for Europe” process, and particular focus is placed on the Environment Strategy for 12 States of Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia which will create grounds for cooperation with countries of the European region to be targeted at addressing the most urgent environmental issues for these States.

Armenia is signatory to the CIS Agreement on Cooperation in Environment and Ecology and within this framework the country has ratified agreements on cooperation in environmental monitoring along with other activities.

Cooperation in the South Caucasus Region occurs through participation in regional projects, of which there are several, and the signing of bilateral and multilateral specific or comprehensive environmental treaties. Of particular interest the RESCAD Project are the “Reducing Trans-boundary Degradation of the Kura-Arax River project; the drafting of legal documentation for the protection of mountain ecosystems of he Caucasus; and, the development of a Cooperation Program for Sustainable Development n the South Caucasus.

Armenia has a number of bilateral agreements and a variety of environmental issues but within the region these are limited to agreements with Georgia, Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

International Conventions

Armenia is signatory to the following multilateral environmental agreements:

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (1993)

  • Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (1993)

  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1993)

  • Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1993)

  • Convention on Combating Desertification (1997)

  • Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (1997)

  • Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement and Disposal of Hazardous Wastes (1999)

  • Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents (1996)

  • Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (1997)

  • Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (1999)

  • Convention on access to information, public participation in decision making and access to justice in environmental matters (ratified 2001)

  • Convention on the prior informed consent procedure for certain hazardous chemical and pesticides in international trade (signed only, 1998)

  • Convention on Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Signed only, 1999)

  • Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (signed only, 2001)

  • Convention on the prohibition of military or any hostile use of environmental modification techniques (2001)

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