Energizing the future: Strengthening Armenia's energy security
Energy security is a fuel for a nation’s progress, powering social and economic progress. Everything from heating, transportation, and the industrial process requires energy, which makes it essential for countries to make it affordable and sustainable for their citizens.
Funded by the UK Government's Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, WFD launched its new programme, "Strengthening Armenia's Energy Security," on 26 January 2023. The project specifically aims to increase the engagement of the Armenian National Assembly and political parties in climate change and energy policy. More engagement by parliament and political parties would increase accountability, enable voters to exercise influence, ensure that the needs and interests of women and other underrepresented groups are considered, and bring about more widely shared political ownership.
The launch event brought together close to 50 key stakeholders -- including four MPs, senior parliament staff and experts, representatives from CSOs, and the private sector -- to discuss the current state of renewable energy in Armenia and ways to enhance its development. The Acting Chair of the Sanding Committee on Economic Affairs of the National Assembly of Armenia, Babken Tunyan, MP ("Civil Contract" Faction); Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Financial-Credit and Budgetary Affairs, Artur Khachatryan, MP ("Armenia" Faction); Member of the Sanding Committee on Economic Affairs of the National Assembly of Armenia, Tsovinar Vardanyan, MP ("Civil Contract" Faction); Member of the Standing Committee on Territorial Administration, Local Self-Government, Agriculture and Environment Protection, Garnik Danielyan, MP ("Armenia" Faction); and Deputy Chief of Staff of the National Assembly of Armenia, Heghine Khachikyan, were among those present at the event, which sparked discussions about the role of parliament in ensuring energy policy is accountable and promotes energy security through adopting renewable energy technologies.
During the welcoming remarks, HM Ambassador John Gallagher stressed the significance of energy security and the advantages of utilizing renewable energy. Acting Chair of the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs, Babken Tunyan, MP shared this sentiment while highlighting Armenia's progress in renewable energy and acknowledging the gap in technical knowledge among parliamentary members and staff. Mr. Tunyan also expressed gratitude for WFD's support and emphasized its role in closing the energy security skills gap.
Similarly, former UK MP Joan Walley, who also served as chair of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), spoke during her keynote address about how the UK Parliament strengthened its oversight on environmental and climate change issues. Ms. Walley emphasized that the EAC took a proactive approach by constructing a strategy with climate objectives in mind.
Furthermore, Hasmik Arakelyan of Breavis presented the results of a public opinion poll commissioned by WFD, focusing on citizens' views on energy security and the parliament's role in it. The poll, which surveyed 1022 Armenian respondents, revealed that 77% believe that parliament is responsible for energy security in the country. Additionally, the survey results indicated that most respondents would support political parties that prioritize the development of renewable energy sources such as hydropower, solar, and wind energy in local communities.
Finally, Gabriel Balayan from Mentis Legal concluded the discussions by presenting legislative gaps analysis and recommendations for improving parliamentary oversight.
The presentations highlighted the importance of renewable energy in ensuring energy security and the crucial role of Armenia's parliament in adopting and implementing sustainable energy policies.
In the coming weeks, WFD will be organizing a number of workshops and training events for Members of Parliament, parliamentary staff, and political party representatives to raise awareness and capacity regarding climate change and renewable energy policy. Furthermore, together with other partners, WFD plans to host policy roundtable discussions with the participation of government, parliamentary, CSO, and private sector representatives.