EU supports consultations on water resource management in Georgia

Published in World
Tuesday, 10 March 2020 10:34

The current reform and remaining challenges in Georgia’s water sector were the focus of the 7th steering committee meeting of the National Policy Dialogue on Integrated Water Resource Management on 5 March.

Delegates from national authorities, local stakeholders, non-governmental organisations and international experts from EU Member States shared practical experiences of the water reform journey and discussed the next steps in ensuring environmentally-sound management of water resources.

The EU Water Directives provided a framework to set up policy objectives for Georgia’s water sector. The National Policy Dialogue supports water reform by strengthening water governance and enhancing stakeholder involvement in the decision-making process.

The meeting discussed the progress made on legal and regulatory reforms, the development of pilot river basin management plans for the Alazani-Lori and Khrami-Debeda basins and emerging needs associated with implementing the EU Association Agreement.

The meeting was facilitated by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia with support from the European Union through the ‘European Union Water Initiative plus for the Eastern Partnership Countries’ (EUWI+) programme.

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  • An Eastern Partnership that delivers for all

    High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell and EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Olivér Várhelyi

    In this challenging time, marked by the coronavirus outbreak, we can see how important international cooperation is. Over the last decade, the Eastern Partnership has brought concrete benefits for people in Georgia and across the European Union’s eastern neighbourhood. In particular:

    • Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Georgia’s economy, and since 2009, EU support has helped over 40,000 Georgian SMEs and microenterprises access loans on better terms to develop their activities, increase incomes and create jobs;
    • Since 2013, EU assistance to link Georgia’s education programmes to market needs have helped over 30,000 Georgians find employment through more relevant vocation education courses and labour market tools such as Worknet.ge;
    • Over 90,000 Georgians living in smaller towns and villages have easier access to 200 public and banking services as well as free internet and libraries through the EU’s support to the establishment of 76 Government Community Centres throughout the country
    • Under Erasmus+, almost 7,500 students and academic staff exchanges have taken place between Georgia and the EU. Over 9,300 young people and youth workers from Georgia have been involved in joint exchanges, training and volunteering projects.

    To ensure our partnership continues to deliver in the fast changing world of today, we need to do even more and better. To shape our priorities, we consulted last year with people, businesses, organisations and governments of 33 countries from across our shared region. While there was an appreciation for the results achieved, there was also a clear expectation that we enhance our cooperation when it comes to jobs and prosperity, investments, connectivity, good governance and common challenges such as climate change and the digital transformation.

    And now we presented our response to these consultations with long-term objectives for our policy beyond 2020. Our continued engagement with the Eastern Partnership countries remains a key priority for the European Union. Our proposals for the future are ambitious yet achievable. They build on existing cooperation but also identify areas where we need to go further. They are built on fundamental values as the heart of the EU project, such as the rule of law, protection of human rights and fight against corruption.

    Concretely, we are proposing to our partners to work together on the following objectives: 

    • Together for resilient, sustainable and integrated economies: Strengthening the economy is key to meeting citizens’ expectations and reducing inequality and for making our partnership a success. We will focus on job creation and economic opportunities, through increased trade, investments, stronger connectivity, in particular in transport and energy, and linking education, research and innovation better with private sector needs.
    • Together for accountable institutions, the rule of law and security: Good governance and democratic institutions, the rule of law, successful anti-corruption policies and security are essential for sustainable development and the consolidation of democracy. They are the backbone of resilient states and societies as well as strong economies.
    • Together for environmental and climate resilience: To protect our world for generations to come, we all need to take responsibility. The EU will work with its partners to improve the resource-efficiency of economies, develop new green jobs and promote local and renewable sources of energy. 
    • Together for a resilient digital transformation: The EU will further invest in the digital transformation of our partners, aiming to extend the benefits of the Digital Single Market to partner countries. Our joint work will also focus on strengthening e-Governance, scaling up digital start-ups and supporting the cyber resilience of partner countries.  
    • Together for resilient, fair and inclusive societies:  Free and fair elections together with transparent, citizen-centred and accountable public administrations are essential for democracy. The EU will continue to focus on these key areas, engaging with civil society, which needs to be given sufficient space, and supporting free, plural and independent media and human rights, as well as ensuring mobility and people-to-people contacts, all particularly important also due to growing disinformation against EU values.  

    Over the past decade, trade between the EU and its eastern partners has nearly doubled. Over 125,000 small and medium-sized businesses have directly benefitted from EU funding, creating or sustaining more than 250,000 jobs. We are better connected thanks to improved transport links and easier access to high capacity broadband. And according to recent surveys, the EU is the most trusted international institution among Eastern Partnership citizens. We will keep this results-oriented approach and look to do much more together in the face of today’s challenges, including when it comes to crises such as COVID-19 pandemic.

    And through this we will build an even more ambitious Eastern Partnership that delivers for all and continues to bring our shared continent closer together.

  • You can too! How the EU supports women entrepreneurs in Georgia

    You can too! How the EU supports women entrepreneurs in Georgia?

     

    1. 1.       I want to start my own business, but I’m not sure my idea would work. Who can advise me?

    The European Union is very active in supporting the development of new businesses, particularly among women and particularly in the regions of Georgia, often with a focus on rural and disadvantaged areas. So don’t think that you need to be in Tbilisi, to have a higher education or an established business in order to access EU support – on the contrary!

    The EU supports a number of programmes and business support facilities that provide know how, practical help, and even funding to help you start your business.

    Here are some examples:

    If you are looking for support in agriculture, the ENPARD programme provides information, training, advice and financial support all over Georgia, with hundreds of thousands of farmers benefitting since 2013. Visit the programme’s interactive map to find regional initiatives, contacts, information centres and cooperatives near you.

    The Mayors for Economic Growth programme supports local authorities in developing economic growth and job creation. Among the dozens of local authorities that have signed up in Georgia, three – Bolnisi, Gori and Tbilisi – are running pioneer projects including support for new entrepreneurs with training and business development facilities, ensuring the equal access of women to development opportunities.

     

    1. 2.       Business advice is all very well, but you need money to develop your business. How can I get funding when I have no money of my own and no business experience?

    A number of grants for agricultural projects are available under the ENPARD programme. Follow the calls section on their website to see the list of grant competitions that are available.

    While the local development projects funded under the Mayors for Economic Growth initiative do not provide grants, they will help you to access finance. For example, the SPARK business accelerator set up under the project in Tbilisi offers new businesses assistance in preparing a business plan, and puts you in contact with potential investors and sources of finance. 

    One EU-funded programme offers loans that are specifically tailored to women: Women in Business can provide finance both to start and develop a business. The programme works with local partners Bank of Georgia and TBC Bank and offers preferential terms for women entrepreneurs to finance new business ideas or expand an existing business. Several other projects under the EU4Business initiative also work with local banks to provide loans for SMEs – from micro-finance to major investment loans.

     

    1. 3.       I already have a business, but I need help to take it to the next step: is there any EU support available for me?

    If you already have a business and you are looking to develop, funding (and training) is available through a number of programmes under the EU4Business initiative, which supports private sector development across Georgia.

    Apart from providing loans, Women in Business offers training and subsidised advisory services that are specifically tailored to women-led businesses. The programme also offers a personalised online tool – the Business Lens – to assess your business and see what kind of support you can access.

    Some EU4Business programmes also offer finance for much larger businesses, but others such as the DCTA Initiative East offer microfinance loans up to €25,000. The European Fund for South East Europe (EFSE) also provides small loans (average loan size €14,300) to the smallest businesses (less than 10 employees) in sectors such as agriculture, industry, trade and services. Click here for the full list of finance programmes under EU4Business, here for projects offering training and business advice, and here for projects supporting access to markets.

    Georgian entrepreneurs also have access to the Enterprise Europe Network, which helps Georgian SMEs find business and technology partners across Europe and beyond.

     

    1. 4.       I’m not sure I want to start a business, but I want to learn new skills: is there something for me from the EU?

    Training and skills are a key priority of EU support in Georgia, and the EU provides considerable funding for Vocational Education and Training (VET). The EU recently launched a 150 million GEL programme supporting vocational education and labour market development. The 5-year programme will help 105,000 Georgians find jobs by expanding high quality vocation education, improving labour policies, and supporting entrepreneurship training.

    In terms of direct support, the individual EU4Youth programmes – Say YES: Skills for Jobs, Enhancing Youth Education, Employment and Participation in Conflict-affected Areas in Georgia and Ukraine, Fostering Potential for Greater Employability, and Better Skills for Better Future – have a strong focus on skills for under-35s, especially in less advantaged regions of Georgia, providing training, mentoring and internships to help young people find jobs.

    For young women under the age of 30, the EU offers exciting opportunities under its Erasmus + youth programmes. You can join the almost 10,000 young Georgians who have already learned new skills and developed valuable experience by participating in youth projects or volunteering for work abroad under the European Solidarity Corps.

    And if you are in higher education, Erasmus + offers student exchanges and post-graduate programmes in Europe. Find out more about all the opportunities and how to apply.

     

    1. 5.       Are there women like me, who started their own business with EU help?

    There are lots!

    Nata, Manana, Irina and Dali all received grants under the ENPARD programme. Natalia and Irina come from Tbilisi, Manana from Tsalka, and Dali from Upper Alvani. Natalia grows cucumbers, Irina tomatos, Manana runs a tea processing enterprise, and Dali combines honey production with educational courses. They have all developed their business with the help of EU training and grants.

    Irina Gloveliand Tekla Mamageishvili both received advisory support as part of the Women in Business programme. For Tekla, the project helped to plan the activities of her eye clinic more strategically and attract financial resources, while Irina received help to put her engineering company’s financial reporting in order, leading to a 7.5% rise in profits.

    Manana Chqareuliworked from home as a seamstress. With the help of loans under the EFSE programme, she was able to upgrade her equipment, lease a proper workspace and hire staff to develop her business. Now her company is on its way to becoming a brand in its own right.

    Diana Bakradze and Anna Varamashvili benefitted from skills training and internships under a project for ‘Support of vulnerable youth to become productive citizens through learning, training and employment’, an important step to an independent professional life.

    Click here for more success stories from ENPARD, here to find out what the city of Bolnisi is doing under the Mayors for Economic Growth project, and here to learn about five Georgian women who have benefited from EU support across a range of areas.

     

    1. 6.       Whom can I ask for help?

    Visit the ENPARD website to find contact information in all the different regions of Georgia, and check the programme’s interactive map to find regional initiatives, contacts, information centres and cooperatives near you.

    Look at the Mayors for Economic Growth website to see if your town is among the signatories and what it is doing to support jobs and businesses near you.

    If you already have a business and are looking to develop it, check out the training and funding opportunities available under EU4Business in Georgia.

    For education and youth opportunities, contact the national Erasmus + office in Georgia.

    And don’t forget to follow the EU Delegation to Georgia on Facebook for updates and new opportunities.

     

  • Visa-free regime carries a strong political message of the EU’s trust and support to Georgia – Vakhtang Makharoblishvili

    Strasbourg – Speaking before the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee (PAC) in Strasbourg, the Georgian First Deputy Foreign Minister, Vakhtang Makharoblishvili said that  visa liberalization with the EU is not only a tangible result for our citizens, but mostly a great responsibility for the Georgian Government to ensure the sustained good track record of visa free travel.  
     
    According to Makharoblishvili, since the inception of the visa-free travel, more than 1 million visa-free visits have been conducted to the EU/Schengen countries from Georgia, thereby demonstrating that the absolute majority of the population abides by the rules of the visa-free regime.
     
    “We continue to be actively engaged with the EU and Member States on addressing the challenges related to the visa-free regime. the Government of Georgia implemented as an immediate response to the first signs of visa-free misuse, - such as the launch of the 3rd wave of intensive target-oriented information campaign, creation of the Schengen mobile application, introduction of legislative amendments and deployment of  police attachés to the Member States” – Makharoblishvili said.

    He highlighted that the official recognition of Georgia as a safe country of origin and, most importantly, the reduction of asylum procedures contributed to decrease of the number of asylum seekers. Already 16 EU/Schengen states recognize Georgia as a safe country of origin.
     
    On a final note, the First Deputy Foreign Minister reaffirmed Georgia’s strong commitment to its obligations and responsibilities under the visa liberalization. “We will pursue all the necessary steps to overcome the difficulties and will remain in close cooperation with the EU institutions and Member States on the matter” – he said.

  • Adoption of the National Strategy of Turkmenistan on Climate Change

    The National Strategy of Turkmenistan on Climate Change has been adopted and presently serves as the main national document on the implementation of activities in the area of climate change.    

    The National Strategy of Turkmenistan on Climate Change reflects the national viewpoint of the issues related to the climate change and acts as a basis for developing and implementing the state policy of Turkmenistan in the area of climate change and its impacts. The worsening of global climate change brought to the adoption of immediate measures. The Government of Turkmenistan designed an action plan based on the Sustainable Development Goals including the Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, as well as the need for timely implementation of the obligations of the Paris Agreement. The need for revising and renewing the National Strategy of Turkmenistan on Climate Change came about.  In this context, in 2018 the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection of Turkmenistan initiated the preparation of the new version of the National Strategy of Turkmenistan on Climate Change, in assistance of the UNDP.          

    On the international arena, this Strategy serves as the main instrument of Turkmenistan reflecting the standpoint of the country during the negotiations and acts as the fundamental document for the preparation of reports on the implementation of its obligations in the framework of global climate agreements.  

    The adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of two Resolutions on “The Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Fund of Saving the Aral Sea” in 2018 and 2019 initiated by President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has a direct connection to the establishment of full format international mechanism of collaboration in the area of ecology and particularly to the joint work on the prevention of the Aral Sea crisis’ impacts.       

    In the framework of the chairmanship in the International Fund of Saving the Aral Sea for 2017-2019, Turkmenistan already implements a number of proposals on the intensification of cooperation between the countries of the region with the aim of developing the ecological and social-economic situation in the Aral Sea basin.   

    This strategy is the recognition of the merits of Turkmenistan in the process of strengthening efficient international collaboration on improving the ecological and social-economic situation in the world. 

     

  • Baghdati Municipality has introduced a new concept for promoting the city as a tourist destination

    Baghdati, Georgia, 2 August 2019 – The municipality of Baghdati in western Georgia welcomed colleagues from the Polish town of Kostrzyn for a 4-day Staff Exchange Programme aimed at strengthening opportunities for tourism to the Georgian municipality. This intense exchange, which involved international as well as local participants, resulted in the introduction of a new concept for promoting Baghdati as a tourist destination during a final workshop.

    Launched within the framework of the EU’s ‘Mayors for Economic Growth’ (M4EG) initiative, Staff Exchange Programmes send experienced municipal staff from EU countries on week-long missions to selected signatories in order to share their experience and render assistance. To date, 50 signatories from the 6 Eastern Partnership countries have applied for such support; in Georgia, the municipalities of Baghdati and Kutaisi were among the beneficiaries selected for the first 9 missions to take place in 2019.

    Baghdati seeks practical advice on how to organize annual festivals and fairs of locally made products in accordance with European standards, and on how to attract tourists from both Georgia and abroad. The municipality of Kostrzyn volunteered to share their experience with Baghdati, which provided significant co-financing for the mission.

    The Polish delegation was led by Kostrzyn’s mayor, Mr Andrzej Ludwik Kunt, who was accompanied by the manager of the town’s European Integration and International Co-operation Office, Ms Agnieszka Żurawska-Tatała. The workshop also included representatives from the M4EG initiative, the Georgian National Tourism Administration, the government of Georgia’s Imereti region as well as local groups and small businesses from the towns of Kutaisi, Terjola, Zestaponi and other neighbouring areas.

    After a series of welcoming speeches, the Polish delegation presented an international tourism growth case study from Kostrzyn, and familiarized their Georgian colleagues with international standards to help them overcome the challenges of ‘going global’. In turn, Baghdati municipality presented their new concept—‘Come to Baghdati: Promoting the city in new ways’. These presentations were followed by lively discussions during which all the participants made numerous recommendations.

    Following the workshop, Mr Archil Gogsadze, the Mayor of Baghdati, noted thatOur work was very productive, and we held many discussions with our guests. The Polish experts gave us directions and advice for organizing festivals in Baghdati according to international quality standards. We are now more confident of being able to adopt European values and standards in our region. We have already planned to hold a wine and art festival in Baghdati this autumn, and we hope this event will attract many visitors thanks to the new approaches.’

    For his part, Mr Andrzej Ludwik Kunt, the Mayor of Kostrzyn, declared that ‘We are glad to have been given the opportunity to support the municipality of Baghdati. In Kostrzyn, we organize a great number of festivals every year, which are attended by almost half a million people. Sixteen years of experience in this field have enabled us to advise Baghdati on how to arrange successful events. We are truly fascinated by the town’s great potential for tourism, which is due to its amazing natural surroundings and the hospitality of its people, who are hard-working and ready to be actively involved in the municipality’s growth and development.’

    Mr Zviad Archuadze, the M4EG Country Coordinator for Georgia and Azerbaijan, highlighted the fact that ‘The M4EG Initiative’s Staff Exchange Programmes enable our signatories to learn about the best European practices and to benefit from advice in their fields of interest. Nine Georgian signatories applied to the programme this year, of which 2 municipalities, including Baghdati, were selected—but this is only the first year of the Staff Exchange Programme, and we might soon announce the next edition in order to give other municipalities the chance to learn from their European colleagues.’

    In the meantime, a second staff exchange will see another team of EU experts visiting the Georgian municipality of Kutaisi this August.

    About the ‘Mayors for Economic Growth’ (M4EG) Initiative:

    The EU’s ‘Mayors for Economic Growth’ (M4EG) Initiative was launched in January 2017 in the 6 Eastern Partnership countries in order to increase the capacity of local administrations to stimulate economic growth and job creation in their area. By the summer of 2019, over 300 local authorities had already joined the Initiative, over half of which have already been promoted from Junior to Acting Members upon drafting and beginning to carry out their unique local economic development plans. In order to support the efforts of these Acting Members, the M4EG Secretariat launched a Staff Exchange Programme to send experienced municipal staff from EU countries on one-week missions to share their experience and render assistance.

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