Public participation in addressing environmental issues prerequisite of sustainable development

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December 2, 2015

Public participation in addressing environmental issues prerequisite of sustainable development

Tashkent hosted an international round table on “Legal framework of public environmental control: experience of Uzbekistan and European countries”, which was organized by the Ecological movement of Uzbekistan jointly with the deputies of the Legislative chamber of the Oliy Majlis, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with UNDP, the OSCE project Coordinator’s Office, Delegation of the European Commission in the republic.

The event was aimed exchanging experience, studying to  Uzbekistan foreign experience in improving organizational and legal mechanisms for the effective implementation of public environmental control, provide comprehensive information about the extensive work carried out in our country, to ensure active public participation in environmental monitoring and environment protection in general.

Local professionals and foreign experts from Austria, Great Britain, India, Latvia, Singapore, France and Japan attended the round table.

The participants noted that in the modern world no major change takes place without environmental component. Any action, especially the one which impacts the nature, certainly reflects in any other part of the Earth. The experts stressed that environmental protection has become a global challenge. The world is pacing an ever increasing speed and devastating scale of natural transformations because of global warming and depletion of planet’s natural resources.

During the event speakers expressed belief that completely new and holistic worldview is required in order to overcome ecological downturn and solve the environmental problems. Knowledge and compliance with the laws of nature in human activity and society are crucial and valued as an imperative.

Today political, social and economic reforms in Uzbekistan are conducted progressively, consistently and systematically. The principle “From strong state to strong society” is being rapidly implemented. In such circumstances, strengthening of the role legislation in shaping and improving an effective legal mechanism to ensure public participation in protection of environmental and public health, enhancing NGOs’ role in this field and addressing environmental problems is very important.

According to the Deputy speaker of the Legislative chamber of Oliy Majlis, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Central Council of the Ecological movement of Uzbekistan Boriy Alikhanov, the country has established a fundamental legal framework, 30 laws and over 150 legal documents, regulating the issues of environmental protection and natural resource management, are adopted and put into effect. It provides for formation and improvement of the effective legal mechanism of ensuring public participation in this process and consistent implementation of environmental control systems.

During further discussions, the specialists stressed that the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which forms a strong legal basis for independent development of the country, is “environment oriented”, i.e. 20 articles out of 128 – to some extent linked to the environment. In addition, Uzbekistan is the only country in the world where the social structure, the Ecological movement of the Republic has been granted a quota of 15 seats in the lower house of the Parliament. Such approach is the example for the priority of solving environmental problems in public policy.

In the framework of the round table, foreign experts shared their countries’ experience in this field. They drawn attention to the fact that one of important conditions for full participation in successful solution of issues on environmental protection is a timely access to information and public awareness in this area. In this context, the sides noted the key role of the media and public organizations in the improvement of the environmental culture and responsibility.

According to the results of international participants’ presentations and reports, the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On ecological control” has been defined as a mechanism for organizing and implementing this process. Foreign experts stated the importance of experience’s exchange and strengthening the revitalization of NGOs in environmental protection.

The correspondent of Jahon Information Agency has interviewed some of the participants between sessions.

Kaspars Gerhards, Minister of environment protection and regional development of the Republic of Latvia:

– I would like to thank the Uzbek side for the invitation to participate in such an important event as today’s round table.

A high expert level of the participants, both national and foreign, indicates that country attaches priority to improving the legal framework for implementation of environmental control. The experience of Uzbekistan and several other states in this area has been presented and discussed during the event, which is very useful, as our planet is a common home and we must work together to protect and preserve it for future generations. It is important to cooperate to find solutions in improvement of the environment, which largely influence on a person’s health.

Uzbekistan and Latvia have been cooperating successfully in this field. We have established good ties with Parliament of your republic, carried out a joint action plan with the State Committee for Nature Protection. I am sure that the cooperation will be fruitful both at the interagency level and at the level of non-governmental organizations.

Edwin Seah, Executive Director of the Singapore Environment Council:

– I am pleased to participate in this event, because I understand how high its value in terms of experience exchange in the sphere of ecology. It is encouraging that Uzbekistan and Singapore have very similar approaches to issues of environmental protection. It could be also seen in special attention that is paid by the state to the solution of environmental issues, as well as the desire to increase the role of NGOs’ and civil institutions in these processes.

I believe that each person should make a personal contribution to the preservation of our planet, as it is a big responsibility for everyone, no matter what country or part of the world we are located.

I think that the measures taken by Uzbekistan on preservation of the environment, will bring positive results, and we hope that the right course will be continued by taking into account best international practices, which, as we see today, Uzbekistan is actively exploring and uses.

Pierre-Emmanuel Dupont, the lawyer of Volterra Fietta, senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Economics and Management at University of Paris:

– We witnessed that in your country there has been significant progress in the field of environmental monitoring, effective information and participation of citizens in enacting laws in the field of environmental activity. The introduction of this mechanism suggests that Uzbekistan is a leading country of the region in the processes of stirring-up of NGOs in environmental protection.

Martin Jung, expert on water management at Austrian Institute of Technology:

– Involvement of public in the environmental processes, as well as in processes of improvement of the corresponding legal framework is of great importance. Therefore, it is difficult to overestimate the importance of fixing the mechanism of public environmental control in the legislation from the point of view of adopted laws’ and legal acts’ effective implementation in the sphere. In addition, it allows people to be more aware of existing environmental challenges, and to be better prepared to prevent their negative impact.