Residents Should Have Favourable Living Conditions

Residents Should Have Favourable Living Conditions

On June 30, 2022, Oleg Dulgaryan, President of "Center for Community Mobilization and Support" NGO, and Inga Zarafyan, President of "EcoLur" Informational NGO, summarized the findings of "Social and Ecological Responsibility" project at the press conference held at the "Center for Community Mobilization and Support" NGO.

The speakers emphasized that the selection of target communities was related to the social and environmental impact of mining businesses and hydropower facilities. Sisian and Goris communities in Syunik Region, Martuni and Vardenis communities in Gegharkunik Region and Akhtala and Odzun communities in Lori Region were included as target communities in "Social and Ecological Responsibility" project. Within the framework of the project, a socio-ecological policy was developed for the target communities in order to include it in the five-year development plans.

The most important thing is that this document lays down the principles and regulates relations with mining and energy businesses operating in these communities," Oleg Dulgaryan said.

"Our ultimate goal is for the community to get green development, for the green economy to be better represented in community development programs, to have financing not from "black business", but from green business.

We have tried to understand the responsibility of business towards communities. In order to create community-business-government relations in a more transparent and accountable atmosphere, we have included in the information base such data, which are published in official documents, we have used the EITI platform and the database of "EcoLur" Informational NGO, and expert assessment,” Inga Zarafyan said.

The following questions were raised during the press conference.

To what extent was the enlargement of communities favorable or unfavorable to the effectiveness of the document?

Oleg Dulgaryan: if Odzun and Akhtala communities have the socio-ecological policy approved by Aldermen’s Council after consolidation, Alaverdi inherits the documents related to all communities and already has two documents that have been deeply analyzed. It remains to carry out a study on the same principle for Alaverdi and Shnogh, forming a complete document for Alaverdi consolidated community.

How willing are the community councils and leaders to accept this document?

Oleg Dulgaryan: "The documents were developed in broad cooperation with them. Community leaders, key professional officials of the staff and administrative heads of settlements were involved in the process, and they were able to correctly present the problems of their settlements."

What problems have the experts raised in the communities and what problems have the residents themselves raised? Let's try to draw parallels, what overlaps there were.

Oleg Dulgaryan: "Community residents and local governments have pointed out the problems. The experts tried to understand the origin of the raised issues, the reasons, how to solve this problem. Local governments and residents raised problems separately and they coincide in 90% of cases.”

Inga Zarafyan: “The main issues are related to the availability of natural resources for the community. To what extent do residents benefit concretely from the use of natural resources? Nevertheless, the resource is mostly used by the business. This is where the community and business relationship emerges.”

How is the relationship between affected communities and business regulated by the socio-ecological policy document?

Inga Zarafyan: "Business has its specific obligations, which are prescribed in various documents. The community will already be a claimant after learning about these obligations and responsibilities. We have provided information about the financial support that businesses provide to the community.

What perspectives have been outlined for the development of Akhtala and Odzun communities?

Oleg Dulgaryan: "Overall it is a very consensus document. The community wants to develop in a green direction, but in such a way that the mining industry does not disrupt that development.

Will there be cooperation with the government, will the document be presented at the national level, or will the process of introduction of advocacy be from the local level to the national level?

Inga Zarafyan: "This document is mainly intended for local bodies. But there are recommendations related to reforms. It is clear to us that we cannot be satisfied only with the existing legal framework and reforms are needed. We will definitely present the recommendations regarding them to the Government."

Why was it decided to develop such a policy, when and after what actions the program can reach its final destination?

Oleg Dulgaryan: "In the last two years, there has been social tension in various communities between local governments and residents, mining companies and residents. In order to ensure the normal development of the community, we must give the community tools to solve problems. That is why it was decided to develop such a policy.

Inga Zarafyan: "The ultimate goal is that we have favorable conditions for life in the communities, that the health of the residents is not exposed to risks and that the business understands that it has obligations towards the community and the population, and fulfills it, whereas the Government must control all of that."

Watch the video for more details.

“Social and Ecological Responsibility” project is carried out by the NGOs involved in "Social-Ecological Consortium” - “Center for Community Mobilization and Support”, “Martuni Women’s Community Council”, “New Horizons”, “EcoLur” and “Forests of Armenia” NGOs within the frameworks of The Data for Accountable and Transparent Action (DATA) project.

 “Data for Accountable and Transparent Action” (DATA) project is implemented by Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) in a consortium with SOCIES Expert Centre NGO (Socies), Boon TV Foundation (Boon TV), Youth Cooperation Center of Dilijan NGO (YCCD) and Sose Women Issues NGO (Sose) co-created with and supported by United States Agency for International Development. 

 The Data for Accountable and Transparent Action (DATA) project is made possible by the generous support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of DATA Project are the sole responsibility of “Center for Community Mobilization and Support” NGO and project partners and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, EPF, and DATA Consortium.

July 01, 2022 at 15:44