Environmental Programme for the South Caucasus
Title: Management of natural resources and safeguarding of ecosystem services for sustainable rural development in the South Caucasus (ECOserve)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: South Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia
Lead executing agencies: Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure of Armenia, Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia
Overall term: 2018 to 2021
The three countries in the South Caucasus face severe and continued degradation to their specific dominant land-use systems: pasture land in Armenia, agricultural land in Azerbaijan, and the forests in Georgia. In addition, energy security for the rural population in Armenia and Georgia is not assured. On all levels, there is a lack of data, regulations, practices and competences for the sustainable and biodiversity-friendly management of natural resources.
The preconditions for the sustainable and biodiversity-friendly use of natural resources in the prevailing land-use systems in the South Caucasus are improved, with a special focus on energy security for the rural population.
In the three countries, a context-specific approach is being followed with regards to the relevant land-use systems, considering land cover percentage, need for protection, safeguarding the rural population’s livelihood source, and the government’s priorities. This reflects the political dynamics in the countries. The availability of data for these land-uses will be improved by adding additional data layers to existing or possibly new information systems, and by conducting socio-economic studies on specific topics. This will allow technical experts and decision-makers to develop targeted policies, strategies and management practices in a better way. At the same time, the legal framework and administrative procedures will be adapted to promote a more sustainable management of the natural resources.
In pilot areas, practices or innovations will be developed for improved land-use and more efficient use of natural resources for heating purposes, for example wood resources, dung, and possible agricultural residues, which are replicable and marketable. Education for the management level, for technical experts and for resource users will be improved for them to contribute to more sustainable management of the natural resources. Awareness and education campaigns will be developed for the general public with a particular focus on the youth, to sensitise them to environmental issues. The regional exchange of experts of the three countries will be fostered, both directly and through the participation in international processes.
Studies on supply and demand for natural resources for heating purposes in the rural areas of Armenia and Georgia were conducted. In collaboration with the partners in the three countries, it was discussed which legal texts and administrative procedures would require adaptations. Pilot areas have been selected in all three countries and country-wide surveys will be conducted to assess the level of knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) of the population on environmental aspects. The results of these surveys will allow a well-targeted design of the awareness raising campaigns. First discussions were held with the environmental ministries to explore options for joint participation in the upcoming Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN Convention on biological diversity.