Environment Minister Hakob Simidyan Met with Civil Society Representatives for First Time

Environment Minister Hakob Simidyan Met with Civil Society Representatives for First Time

On January 19, 2023, civil society representatives met for the first time with Environment Minister Hakob Simidyan. Hakob Simidyan mentioned that currently the ministry has launched two processes aimed at inclusiveness of the public. The reopening of the offices of the Aarhus centers and reformation of the Public Council attached to the minister.

Inga Zarafyan, President of "EcoLur" Informational NGO, spoke about the problems of using and managing natural resources. "There is a government decision by which the list of rivers prohibited for the construction of small hydroelectric power plants was established. No more hydroelectric power plants can be built on Dzoraget. However, "Lorva Castle" LLC filed a lawsuit against the Ministry with the request to issue a water use permit to build a hydropower plant on that river. And won the case," she said, noting that in this case the ministry did not defend its position in higher courts, but the political society is always ready to support the ministry in protecting the interests of nature.

Inga Zarafyan also spoke about the risks in the field of solar energy. "For the most part, agricultural lands are used for the construction of solar plants. We do not have norms for the use of land for energy purposes. The rapid development of solar energy leads to the generation of a large amount of e-waste. It is not known where they should be stored, how they should be used, there is no solution. Only business interests are considered," she said.

In response, Minister Hakob Simidyan stated that the government has set certain restrictions regarding solar energy. According to him, the primary tool from the viewpoint of the regulation of solar energy or other discussed issues is the environmental impact assessment (EIA). "The Law on EIA is in the final stages of amendments. We have tried to make the law a target and reduce environmental damages as a result of the EIA expert process.

During the last 2-3 weeks, issues related to waste have been discussed. We have a problem of capacity, of formulating the problems and taking them forward. It is necessary to have a road map of solutions together with our ministry and international partners. From this point of view, it is also important to develop a strategy, for which work groups should be established," Hakob Simidyan said.

Oleg Dulgarian also spoke about the pressures exerted by the mining business on human rights defenders and environmentalists, expecting the ministry's position on these pressures. Hakob Simidyan responded. "They are trying to target the environmental community. This series of meetings will be a guarantee that we are not on opposite sides with the environmental community, but on the same side."

Photo Credit: The Environment Ministry

January 24, 2023 at 17:17