Press release: Georgia paves the way towards more environmental and climate change democracy

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Press release: Georgia paves the way towards more environmental and climate change democracy

September 24th, 2021

                                                                                                       


UK and WFD assist Georgia in strengthening democracy principles of environmental and climate change governance

TBILISI. 21 September 2021 – Environmental democracy principles were discussed on Tuesday 21st September at a national workshop in Georgia organised by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) in partnership with the Parliament of Georgia and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture.

Aiming to push forward the process of creating more transparent and inclusive environmental and climate change governance in Georgia, the meeting marked an official launch of a new programme – Advancing Environmental Democracy in Georgia – funded by the UK Embassy in Georgia and implemented by WFD in close cooperation with the Parliament of Georgia. This three-year environmental democracy programme is designed to generate the sustained political will necessary to address environmental and climate issues in line with environmental democracy principles. The programme will focus on supporting political actors to create legislation and policies that are evidence-based, inclusive and meet the commitments outlined in Georgia’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and other environmental commitments.

The participants of the workshop discussed the current challenges and opportunities as well as the long-term vision of possible reforms and coalitions needed to accelerate environmental democracy in Georgia while generating sustained political will necessary to address environmental and climate issues and boosting dialogue between key political actors, CSOs, government agencies and the general public.

They also discussed findings of a national-wide survey of Georgian citizens’ opinions and attitudes toward environmental concerns and climate change on a national and global scale. The three most frequently listed problems among urban respondents are increased air pollution (81%), high temperatures (74%) and reduced harvest (64%). Meanwhile, for study participants interviewed in rural settlements, the most problematic issues are high temperatures (86%), reduced harvest (74%), and increased droughts (82%).

In terms of the three most serious problems the world is facing today, the Georgian population places Climate Change and Environmental Degradation at the first place (57%), followed by Poverty, Hunger and Lack of Drinking Water (50%) and The spread of Infectious Diseases (50%). According to surveyed population, the most serious environmental problems Georgia is facing today are Air Pollution (57%), Deforestation (56%) and Pollution of Water (31%).

UK Ambassador to Georgia, Mark Clayton, said:

“On behalf of the UK Government, I am excited to being able to support an important work that is designed to generate the sustained political will necessary to address the environmental and climate issues Georgia faces, in line with environmental democracy principles. I am particularly pleased to see this work and its activities focusing on supporting Georgian parliamentarians to draft and implement legislation that is evidence-based, inclusive and meets the commitments outlined in Georgia’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and other environmental commitments. The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021. The UK is committed to working with all countries and joining forces with civil society, companies and people on the frontline of climate change to inspire climate action ahead of COP26.”

Among other matters, the Speaker of Parliament of Georgia, Kakha Kuchava, noted:

“Not too long ago, we had to imagine the impact of climate change. No one has to imagine it anymore. Therefore, bringing together innovation from government and the private sector, communities and organisations, is crucial to tackling climate challenges. In this process, Parliament plays a three-pillar role as (i) a law-making institution, (ii) an oversight body and (iii) a representational institution. In this light, the upcoming decade will be pivotal in shaping the future for generations to come! Therefore, the priority for the Parliament is Greening the Policy. As the Speaker of Parliament, my job is to make sure our environmental policy delivers for Georgian people – by taking on the most significant challenges they face and seizing the biggest opportunities to improve their lives.”

The approach to and actions of the Advancing Environmental Democracy in Georgia programme are underpinned by the key principles of environmental democracy.  The programme focuses on dual pillars concerned with increasing transparency and enhancing civic participation in environmental decision making. The programme works with a wide range of governance and civic actors to address environmental and climate issues. Capitalising on the global attention around COP26, the programme will initially focus on tackling climate change. Specifically, the programme will work with Georgian political institutions to identify the laws and regulations required to successfully achieve the aspirations in Georgia’s updated NDC and how the transition to renewable energy can be catalysed. Other priority policy areas will further be determined as the programme progresses.  


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Photo by Mike Swigunski on Unsplash

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