Van Gogh and Pirosmani at the Creatorium: EU4Youth supporting creative entrepreneurs in Georgia

Published in Culture
Wednesday, 30 December 2020 10:42

When you browse the Facebook page of the ‘Creatorium’ salon, you will find this little note – “We are creative artists who will paint everything your eye can see!”
Van Gogh and Pirosmani are the Creatorium’s best friends, and blue – the colour of calmness – is their main colour. The creative process is backgrounded by Pink Floyd’s Goodbye Blue Sky, and Vincent van Gogh and Niko Pirosmani provide the conceptual line of their creativity. Their story also fits in a cosmic box.

Intrigued? The Creatorium is an innovative platform for creative business, founded in Gori by Mariam Tsikaridze and Nino Mazmishvili. The young friends have successfully used the knowledge they received at the EU4Youth Entrepreneurial School, and are now trying to expand their business. Turning ideas into reality has already become a business for them.

Entrepreneurial School for modern ideas

With EU support, ‘Art Salon Creatorium’ is engaged in small business activities. After graduating from the EU4Youth Entrepreneurial School course, its founders confidently started to implement their idea on a large scale. And this is the exact goal of the Entrepreneurial School – to support the self-employment of young people, and to help them develop entrepreneurial skills and establish their own place in the business environment. The project serves youth education and employment, and so far, has already helped a number of people in starting their own businesses.

In the last decade, the number of start-ups created for innovative, original ideas has been rapidly growing. Expert knowledge gained at the Entrepreneurial School helps young people to transform their ideas into business projects. As they go through their training, they see practical ways to turn a childhood dream or a hobby into a business opportunity. This is how Mariam and Nino, the two friends from the Entrepreneurial School, turned their idea into a business.

The right time and place...

“This project meets key business management criteria and is well-suited for the field, which has helped us a lot to raise awareness and take effective steps. The Entrepreneurial School taught us a lot and helped us navigate properly in business. At this stage, we only use bank loans, but we never stop looking for funding sources, and the Entrepreneurial School actively supports us in doing so.

Mariam is a young mother of three, while Nino is from the border village of Ditsi. For a long time, they created handmade items and accessories that were popular only among friends. Today, they can welcome you at their own office and offer a range of creative products, including handmade souvenirs, painted bags, engraved pictures, gift boxes, albums, portraits, paintings on exterior walls and clothes, and clayware. 

The Entrepreneurial School has played an important role in Nino’s and Mariam’s lives. The young entrepreneurs are looking to expand and develop their business in the future, and hope to achieve this with further help from the project. They have already used mentor’s services, and have received qualified consultations in relation to organisation of weddings and other celebrations from Ia Saginashvili, head of the ‘Kochinela’ design company.

The story of Nino and Mariam, independent and modern young Georgian women, is one out of many and is an example for others.

“You should never listen to negative assessments, but should pursue your aims. You should do your best. We literally started everything from scratch. The scepticism of those around us did not make us give up on our idea, and everything has turned out even better than we imagined and greater things are still ahead.

Today at the Creatorium you find a creative and positive environment, and we can help you design your interior with our products, created exclusively for you. We can also help you organise beautiful parties and celebrate important dates. We can turn any of your fantasies into reality. Here we are, united by our aspiration for freedom and love of art. A startup for creative entrepreneurship,  Creatorium not only offers creative services, but also conducts art therapy and applied arts classes, where anyone can create art without any age restrictions.” 

All they now need is an end to the pandemic, and people’s trust, which they promise to repay by turning special days into unforgettable memories.

On their Facebook page, Creatorium’s posts are full of positivity.

  • While Van Gogh is in quarantine, what is there in the cosmic box?
  • A photo album with family or personal stories at different stages of life: let your best day be the best.
  • If Van Gogh and Pirosmani visited your studio, what would you ask?
  • We are creative artists who will paint everything your eye can see. How did you paint so fantastically? How did you paint?

The Entrepreneurial School is part of the EU4Youth project, ‘Enhancing Youth Education, Employment and Participation in Conflict-affected Areas in Georgia and Ukraine’.

The aim of the project is to enhance the means of subsistence of displaced and conflict-affected youth, to support their active participation in public life, and improve their access to education, employment and participation in entrepreneurial activities.

The article has been prepared and published by “Entrepreneur Georgia” in the Georgian language.

 

 

Young entrepreneurs bring innovation to rural development

Published in Economics
Tuesday, 22 December 2020 16:22

EU and UNDP support business “bootcamps” for rural youth

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have completed the fourth round of business bootcamps designed to help aspiring young entrepreneurs to create and expand rural businesses. Over 60 young people from all over Georgia submitted their applications and, after a virtual brainstorming session, 22 of them were selected to take part in an online bootcamp that took place on 12-13 December.

The EU and UNDP have already organized three similar business bootcamps for rural youth since November 2019, under their wider ENPARD-3 programme for rural development. These sessions are organized in partnership with the Rural Development Agency (RDA) that operates under the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA), and two business-support entities: the social enterprise “Tbilisi Start-up Bureau” and the Batumi Business Incubator.

The initiative was kicked off a year ago to support youth entrepreneurship in rural areas and promote innovative rural businesses outside of agriculture and agri-food. The EU and UNDP continued supporting young entrepreneurs through the pandemic lockdown, exploring online formats for organizing meetups and training sessions.

The first three bootcamps, held in November and December 2019 and October 2020, brought together some 110 young entrepreneurs for a packed schedule of motivational talks and training that guided them through all stages of business modelling – from hatching an idea, identifying a target market, assessing client needs and local opportunities, developing marketing and media plans and defining the resources and partners needed to get the idea off the ground.

At the end of each bootcamp, the best business ideas were selected for future support: 24 winning entrepreneurs have so far started work on new businesses with the potential to create 90 jobs in tourism, manufacturing and other sectors.

“Youth are key drivers of the economic and social transformation of rural areas in Georgia,” said Carl Hartzell, EU Ambassador to Georgia. “By empowering and proactively engaging young entrepreneurs we hope to enable them to unleash their innovative capabilities and realize their business ideas. Creating new economic opportunities and improving livelihoods of rural communities has always been at the center of the EU’s work here in Georgia. It gains particular importance now as we are joining hands to overcome the impact of the pandemic.”

“Youth entrepreneurship holds the promise of new jobs and new livelihoods for Georgia’s rural regions, and can give energetic young people a rewarding local alternative to leaving home,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “Moreover, as Georgia looks ahead beyond the pandemic shock, fresh and innovative business ideas can help drive a robust recovery.”

Georgia remains one of the most business-friendly countries globally, placing seventh out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 rankings. However, the pandemic is expected to reverse the growth trends, pushing the country into a six-percent recession in 2020 and increasing the poverty rate by up to 2.8 percentage points.

Recent research carried out by the EU and UNDP shows that almost half of Georgian companies have experienced a dramatic drop in revenues. But 70 percent of businesses are exploring new opportunities emerging amidst the crisis.

The EU and UNDP are Georgia’s long-term supporters in promoting rural development. EUR 179.5 million in EU assistance has been allocated to Georgia under the ENPARD programme between 2013 and 2022. This support aims to promote rural development policies and create economic opportunities for the rural population outside of agriculture. More information about ENPARD is available at www.enpard.ge

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The EU commits a further €55 million for the development of agriculture and rural areas in Georgia

Published in Economics
Thursday, 17 December 2020 12:34

The fourth phase of the EU’s ENPARD programme will provide extended assistance in the food safety and SPS sector to enhance consumer protection and promote EU exports of Georgian products. The programme will also continue to support rural development to further improve living conditions for a larger proportion of the rural population in Georgia.
 
TBILISI. December 17, 2020 – The EU Ambassador to Georgia H.E. Carl Hartzell and the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Mr. David Zalkaliani today signed an agreement to kick off the fourth phase of the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD IV) worth €55 million (approximately GEL 215 million). The Acting Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia Mr. Levan Davitashvili also attended the signature event. The programme aims to enhance consumer protection, promote EU exports and improve livelihoods of rural population in Georgia. It is part of the wider assistance package mobilized by the EU and Team Europe to support Georgia’s COVID-19 recovery.  
 
“We are happy to announce today our continued cooperation with the government of Georgia under the fourth phase of the ENPARD programme. Since 2013, with over GEL 500 million budget, the EU’s ENPARD programme has been providing extensive support to make Georgia’s agriculture more competitive and to improve living standards in rural areas. Looking forward, we would like to see more Georgian farmers, cooperatives and small and medium size enterprises better equipped to produce high quality products and export to the EU. We also support better infrastructure and services, growth of tourism, more effective local public-private partnerships and entrepreneurship in rural areas. This will help create new employment opportunities and will maximize the country’s economic growth,” stated Carl Hartzell, EU Ambassador to Georgia.
 
“ENPARD programme brings concrete results for our country and particularly for our rural population. As a result of this program, the quality of products, the employment opportunities for our citizens and the EU exports are significantly improving. Even more important is the implementation of this programme at in the pandemic context. The financial support provided to Georgia under the fourth phase of ENPARD is part of the wider EU assistance supporting Georgia’s COVID-19 recovery,” stated David Zalkaliani, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.
 
“Georgia is one of the outstanding countries of the Eastern Partnership that has successfully carried out all three phases of ENPARD programme. We believe that the fourth phase will be implemented successfully as well. This is a remarkable volume of assistance, € 55 million, of which € 31 million is going to be the direct budget support. However, a very important and efficient part of the assistance is a € 24 million technical and grant component, which is going to have a complementary effect on the implementation of our policy also developed in close partnership with the EU,” stated Levan Davitashvili, Acting Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia.
 
ENPARD IV will provide extended assistance in the food safety and sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) sector to enhance consumer protection for citizens of Georgia and to promote exports of Georgian products to EU Member States. ENPARD IV will build on the achievements of the Comprehensive Institution Building (CIB) programme and of previous ENPARD phases. It will provide further support to the National Food Agency (NFA) for improved inspection and control systems and for continuation of the legal approximation process including enforcement of newly adopted regulations. It will also support food business operators in their efforts to adapt to the sectoral reforms.
 
In addition, ENPARD IV will further support rural development and will improve living conditions for a larger proportion of the rural population in Georgia, rendering the rural development sector more dynamic and effectively contributing to Georgia’s economic and social development. The fourth phase of ENPARD will improve the economic and social integration of vulnerable households in disadvantaged rural regions of Georgia, including eco-migrants, conflict affected people, ethnic minorities, Georgian returnees and migrants. The action will continue to enhance civic participation in the regions of Georgia through increased civil society involvement in local decision-making processes and will continue to actively promote and encourage participation of youth and women, noting the specific needs and constraints of these groups.

Press Release of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia

EU launches nine new projects with EUR 7 million budget to support vocational education and labour market development in Georgia

Published in Economics
Tuesday, 15 December 2020 12:51

Projects funded under the EU’s ongoing Skills4Jobs programme will assist thousands of Georgians in finding jobs by enhancing high quality vocational education, improving lifelong learning opportunities and supporting entrepreneurship.

At a special event held online under the auspices of Skills Week Georgia, the nine grant projects, funded by the EU’s second phase of the Skills4Jobs programme in Georgia, were introduced. These grants have been allocated to private and public sector and civil society organisations to further enhance employment opportunities, particularly in the regions. 

The nine projects, with a total EU contribution of EUR 7 million (approx. GEL 27 million), will focus on ensuring that relevant skills matching services and education opportunities in vocational education, training and entrepreneurship are available throughout Georgia, particularly for youth, women and vulnerable populations. The Skills4Jobs overall programme has three main targets:

  • Relevant skills-matching services are accessible in selected regions of Georgia;
  • Relevant lifelong learning skills provision are accessible in selected regions with a focus on youth;
  • Entrepreneurial learning and training opportunities are accessible in selected regions.

“We are happy to launch the new grant projects as part of the second phase of the EU’s Skills4Jobs 5-year programme in Georgia. In the context of COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to support Georgia in its efforts to improve professional skills, enhance entrepreneurship and adapt the labour and employment strategies to the current needs. With the start of these new projects we contribute directly to the improvement of employability of women, men, youth and vulnerable people in Tbilisi and regions of Georgia.”, stated Catalin Gherman, Deputy Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.

“At this time when coronavirus is testing Georgia’s VET system to its limits, and while we are striving to introduce new and innovative approaches in VET governance and practices and increase the attractiveness of vocational education and qualifications, we are being strongly supported as always by the EU, our longest-standing partner in VET. Europe is a source of inspiration and best practice examples in VET, and the EU’s financial and technical support has been invaluable in helping us to modernize our system in line with international standards”, stated Tamar Kitiashvili, Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia.

The Skills Week Georgia, an online four-day conference, organized by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia with the support of the EU’s Skills4Jobs Technical Assistance Project, offers a platform to discuss new challenges and solutions for vocational education in the current reality. The conference was opened by Mikheil Chkhenkeli – Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, Sigrid Brettel – Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, His Excellency Hubert Knirsch – Ambassador of Germany and Ekaterine Mikabadze – Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development.

Phase 2 of the EU’s Skills4Jobsprogramme was launched in 2018 to improve the employability of women, men, young people and vulnerable people in Tbilisi and regions of Georgia. The programme is implemented through a range of different measures. The total budget of the programme is EUR 48,85 million (approx. GEL 190 million) and includes:

  • a EUR 30 million budget support to the Government of Georgia for implementing sector reform,
  • two Twinning projects which bring the EU Member States’ civil servants to Georgia to help introduce reforms,
  • grant scheme component for EUR 7 million, and
  • technical assistance to support the relevant ministries. This component is assisting the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, the Youth Agency and other public agencies in updating and improving their sector reform policies.

Source: https://eu4georgia.ge/eu-launches-nine-new-projects-with-eur-7-million-budget-to-support-vocational-education-and-labour-market-development-in-georgia/

EU launches new project to target organised crime in the Eastern Neighbourhood

Published in Justice
Friday, 17 July 2020 10:10

A new Europol-led project, funded by the European Union, has been launched, focused on strengthening the capacity of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to fight organised crime more effectively. The project will contribute to reducing crime and creating a safer living space for citizens in the region.

Through this four-year initiative, Europol will support cooperation between law enforcement authorities, both on a strategic and operational level. Special funding will enable the Eastern Partner countries to participate in operational activities against some of the ten most significant threats to EU security listed under the EU Policy Cycle. Existing networks for information sharing and operational cooperation may be further extended into joint investigations to improve the effectiveness in fighting transnational organised crime.

“This initiative is an important step in developing strong operational cooperation and trust between the law enforcement authorities of the EU Member States and our Eastern partners,” said Catherine De Bolle, Executive Director of Europol. “Our aligned efforts will bring a stronger response to the common challenges and cross-border threats we face.”

Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East at the European Commission, stated: “Organised crime networks operate across national borders and destabilise the entire region. Tackling serious and organised crime is a shared challenge by the European Union and its partner countries. By strengthening the strategic and operational cooperation between Europol and partner countries, we are proud to contribute to joint investigation successes.”

Located along the Black Sea and forming part of the ‘heroin route’ from the Middle East to Europe, all six Eastern Partner countries are threatened by organised criminal groups active in the area. These groups are involved in migrant smuggling, organised property crime, trafficking in human beings, firearms and drug trafficking, money laundering, and other related crimes such as document fraud. These criminal syndicates threaten not only the safety and security of people, but also the stability of the Eastern Partnership region and of the whole EU. More cooperation between law enforcement authorities of EU Member States and the Eastern Neighbourhood countries is crucial to improving the effectiveness of the common response to organised crime across borders.

As part of a larger €10 million EU cooperation initiative, the EU has dedicated 2.5 million to support the project that will run for the next four years. Two other components are focused on law enforcement training and threat assessment (a project led by Cepol with the participation of Europol) and on criminal asset recovery (managed by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute - UNICRI).

UN and EU launch ambitious initiative for gender equality in Eastern Partnership

Published in Economics
Wednesday, 15 July 2020 11:27

With support from the European Union, the two UN sister agencies will work with government bodies and civil society partners in six countries to challenge deeply ingrained gender stereotypes, increase men’s involvement in domestic work and childcare, and engage with potential perpetrators to prevent gender-based violence.

UN Women and UNFPA, together with the European Union (EU), have launched a three-year regional programme to tackle gender stereotypes and gender-based violence in six countries of the Eastern Partnership: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The programme, entitled “EU 4 Gender Equality: Together Against Gender Stereotypes and Gender-Based Violence,” ultimately seeks to strengthen equal rights and opportunities for women and men by challenging perceptions about men’s and women’s roles in the family and in society and working to eliminate gender-based violence.

“This is our first regional programme covering gender equality in the Eastern Partnership region and we are intensely proud of it,” said Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East in the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations at the European Commission. “We can and we will do more to develop this underused economic and social potential with our Eastern neighbours. As we emerge from the pandemic, we will propose that the future Eastern Partnership be more inclusive.”

A first of its kind, the programme has been informed by an in-depth situation analysis and intergovernmental consultations with the six countries. It is designed to engage a wide range of government bodies, civil society organizations, and individuals.

“We will work closely with governments and civil society organisations in the six countries to ensure the success of the programme,” says Alia El-Yassir, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. “This work is even more crucial now as the COVID-19 crisis has put into stark relief the imbalanced distribution of responsibilities based on traditional gender stereotypes.”

The programme aims at achieving real behavioural change. It relies on strategies designed to challenge structural gender barriers and norms, with particular emphasis on transforming gender-stereotyped behaviour, strengthening men’s involvement in parenting and domestic responsibilities, increasing men’s access to parental leave, and reducing the number of people affected by gender-based violence through prevention interventions with potential perpetrators.

“During the COVID-19 crisis, we have unfortunately seen an increase in women’s unpaid care workload and in cases of gender-based violence across the six countries,” says Alanna Armitage, UNFPA Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. “Our programme comes at the right time to fight these trends. We all have to work hand-in-hand to build a more just, equal, safe and secure world for all.”

The programme has a budget of €7,875,000 and is anchored in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework, launched by the United Nations in 2015, and the EU Action Plan 2016-2020 on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women Through EU External Relations. It provides a unique opportunity for the EU and the six participating countries to affect social discourse, perceptions, and practices related to gender equality with the ultimate goal of achieving gender equality and related SDGs.

For more information, please visit: https://europa.eu/european-union/

EU supports Georgia in protecting its coastal waters

Published in Economics
Wednesday, 08 July 2020 11:30

On 29 June, a five-day water monitoring survey started in Batumi, Georgia, organised by the EU-funded project ‘European Union Water Initiative Plus for the Eastern Partnership’ (EUWI+).

The survey is carried out by Georgian experts from the National Environmental Agency. It aims to assess the quality of coastal and transitional water ecosystems to help identify appropriate measures to protect water resources.

Apart from the survey, the EU also supports the upgrade of Batumi’s laboratory by organising training courses for experts and providing new state-of-the-art analysis equipment. This aims to improve Georgia’s capacities to manage its water resources.

Two similar surveys were held in September and November 2019. The surveys allowed the National Environmental Agency to determine the ecological status of coastal waters in the Chorokhi-Adjaristskali River Basin District.

The EUWI+ project helps Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine to bring their legislation closer to EU water management policies, with a main focus on managing transboundary river basins.

EU supports information campaign in Georgia for EU Sustainable Energy Week 2020

Published in Economics
Tuesday, 23 June 2020 16:10

On 22 June, the EU Delegation to Georgia launched the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) campaign. The campaign consists of tips for citizens on saving energy and money, caring about the environment and making their homes more energy efficient.

This year, the EUSEW will run from 22 to 26 June. The event will be held virtually, and the topic will be Beyond the crisis: Clean energy for green recovery and growth.

The EUSEW is the biggest event dedicated to renewables and efficient energy use in Europe. It is organised by the European Commission and brings together public authorities, private companies, non-government organisations and consumers to promote initiatives to save energy and move towards renewables for clean, secure and efficient power.

Find out more

EUSEW campaign page

Facebook page of the EU Delegation to Georgia

EU4Energy programme

New opinion polls in the Eastern partner countries show high trust in the EU

Published in World
Monday, 22 June 2020 15:44

The EU is the most trusted international institution, and the only one trusted by the majority (60%) of respondents in the Eastern Neighbourhood. Two-thirds (70%) of all citizens in the region believe that the relations between the EU and their country are ‘good’. A total of 57% of Eastern Neighbourhood citizens are aware of the EU’s financial support, and 53% of them believe that the support is effective. More than half of the respondents (53%) can also identify at least one specific programme financed by the EU.

These are just some of the findings of the 2020 opinion polls carried out in the six Eastern partner countries by the ‘EU NEIGHBOURS east’ project earlier this year.

Conducted between February and March 2020 in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the surveys assess general perceptions of the EU, the values with which it is associated, relations between the EU and the Eastern partner countries, and awareness of the EU’s financial support and its effectiveness. They also look at citizens’ preferred sources of information, how they feel about the situation in their country and their future expectations.

The field work for the survey took place between February and March 2020 (before COVID-19 crisis) and was based on face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of 1,000 people in each country.

 This is the fifth edition of the annual surveys, with the first wave carried out in 2016. The results from the six countries are presented in national reports and a consolidated regional overview report.  

Part of the EU-funded OPEN Neighbourhood programme, the ‘EU NEIGHBOURS east’ project aims to contribute to a better understanding of the European Union and its partnership with ArmeniaAzerbaijanBelarusGeorgiathe Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine.

Find out more

EU NEIGHBOURS east – opinion polls

EU NEIGHBOURS east – website

Why the environment matters and how the EU helps the Eastern partner countries to protect it

Published in Society
Wednesday, 03 June 2020 12:14

Why the environment matters and how the EU helps the Eastern partner countries to protect it?

 

  1. 1.      Why should we care about the environment?

 

We depend on nature for our very existence: we eat the food which grows in its soil, drink its fresh water and breathe its clean air. Housing, clothing, technology and recreation all depend on natural resources. All human activities impact on a fragile ecological balance. Disturbing this balance affects our wellbeing and prosperity.

 

The next ten years are decisive in making our societies more resilient in the context of major climate and environmental challenges. Together we have to overcome a heavy legacy of past environmental failures, such as loss of natural habitats and biodiversity, erosion of the soil, illegal logging, poor air quality, polluted rivers,  deficient waste management, and many others.

 

Investing into greener development will bring benefits for health, as well as new employment and economic growth opportunities. Working together on the environment and climate resilience is therefore vital.

  

  1. 2.      How can climate change impact our daily life?

 

The significant and accelerated climate change caused by greenhouse gases as a result of  human activities is increasing and creates severe consequences for our economies and societies.

 

The European Union and its Eastern neighbours are witnessing extreme rainfall events and flooding, as well as fires caused by heatwaves, soil erosion, fertility and biodiversity loss, and water resource scarcity, which are affecting industry, agriculture and households.

Only recently, wildfires fanned by abnormally hot, dry and windy weather in Ukraine raged through the Chernobyl exclusion zone for over two weeks, destroying more than 11,000 hectares of forest – a stark example of the impact of climate change.

Throughout the region, the countries are facing larger consequences of both droughts (Moldova ranks as the most climate vulnerable country in Europe and its total water availability will fall below total demand within a couple of decades), and floods (Azerbaijan is one of the most flood-prone areas in the world), as well as deteriorating water quality and risks to water supply (melting glaciers in Georgia threaten the country’s water security).

Collective action against climate change will bring many benefits for the environment, for our health, and for the economy. Rethinking and shifting our development paradigm will be an opportunity for a more efficient use of natural resources, cost savings, growth and jobs.

And if you think that climate action is expensive, think of the cost of doing nothing: Georgia estimates that climate-induced hazards could mean $10-12 billion in economic losses for the country over the next 10 years – ten times more than the cost of adapting to climate change over the same time period.

 

 

  1. 3.      What is the Paris Agreement about?

 

The Paris Agreement is the first-ever legally binding global climate change commitment, adopted at the Paris climate conference in December 2015. The EU and its Member States, as well as the countries of the Eastern Partnership, are among the nearly 190 signatories. 

The Agreement sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to below 2°C, and pursuing efforts to limit it further to 1.5°C. It also aims to strengthen countries’ ability to deal with the impact of climate change and support them in their efforts.

The agreement stresses the need for global emissions to start coming down as soon as possible and to achieve climate neutrality in the second half of this century.

The centrepiece of the European Union’s effort to meet its targets is the European Green Deal that aims to make Europe climate neutral by 2050, making the EU’s economy sustainable by decoupling economic growth from resource use.

The Green Deal makes it clear that environmental and climate challenges require urgent action by the EU and its partner countries. The EU therefore supports its Eastern partners in their commitments under the Paris Agreement , including the implementation of national climate plans (nationally determined contributions, NDCs), the development of long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies (LEDS), as well as the modernisation of their economies by moving towards climate neutrality.

Meeting these commitments will require a transition to a low carbon, resource-efficient economy, which means a fundamental shift in technology, energy, economics, finance and ultimately society as a whole.

  

  1. How does the EU contribute towards protecting the environment in the six Eastern partner countries?

 

EU support to the Eastern partner countries has been increasing lately. A quarter of grants provided through the Neighbourhood Investment Platform (NIP) in 2018-2019 went to ‘green’ investments. EU blending contributions to such investments increased by more than 50% between 2014-15 and 2018-19, from approximately €67 million to €107 million. In 2018-19 alone, NIP grants unlocked €1.3 billion in overall green investments in the region.

The EU has also contributed €60 million to implement regional programmes that help to improve policies and institutions in the Eastern Partnership in line with the European Green Deal. Support for municipalities amounts to some €24 million, while the partner countries also receive support through the TAIEX and Twinning programmes.

 

EU-funded regional programmes include :

EU4Environment (€19.5 million in EU funding) aims at helping the Eastern partner countries to preserve their natural capital and increase people’s well-being. The programme supports policy and legislative changes, makes planning and investment greener, stimulates innovative technologies and the adoption of new business models, as well as the creation of green jobs. It also promotes better environmental governance, improved management of protected areas and forests, and sustainable trade. 

EU4Climate (€8 million in EU funding) is designed to support the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement and to improve climate policies and legislation, contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and development towards a low-emissions and climate-resilient economy. 

The EU Water Initiative for the Eastern Partnership(EUWI+ 4 EaP – €23.5 million in EU funding)helps partner countries bring their legislation closer to EU policy in the field of water management, developing tools to improve the quality of water and its availability for all.

 

Environment is also high on the priorities at country level, with actions focusing on areas such as air quality, water management and marine pollution, energy efficiency, waste management, tackling pesticides and industrial pollution, and sustainable forest management.

 

In addition, to the European Union’s cooperation programmes, European Financial Institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) provide significant support for transition to the green economy by supporting low carbon and climate resilient growth, as well as investing in green infrastructures. The Eastern Europe Environment and Energy Efficiency Partnership (E5P) – a multi-donor trust fund of which the EU is the major donor – facilitates investments for municipal projects that improve energy efficiency and environmental protection. The EU-funded Municipal Project Support Facility (MPSF) provides technical assistance for the preparation of energy efficiency projects that can later be implemented through loans. The EU also significantly contributes to the Green for Growth Fund (GGF).

 

  1. 5.      What do these programmes actually do? Are there any success stories?

 

Certainly, beyond the stated objectives and the headline budget figures lie some real success stories, protecting the environment, acting on climate change and promoting resilience and sustainability on the ground.

For example, EU is helping to enable modern water policy at basin level for a vast territory covering 500,000 km², setting a clear path towards cleaner water for more than 30 million people in the six Eastern partner countries.

With the EU’s support, Belarus, Moldova and Georgia launched the development of national green economy strategies. Ukraine is already in the top 20 countries in the world for organics farming, exporting €59 million worth of organic products in 2016, the majority certified to EU standards.

More than 100 pilot SMEs in the region received EU support to carry out resource efficiency and cleaner production programmes, resulting in savings of €9.4 million (with an average of between €2,000 and €20,000 saved per enterprise, reaching up to €100,000 in some cases). Activities continue with the support of the EU4Environment programme.

Environmental data is being aligned with EU and best international practice in all six partner countries, with data being available via an Internet-based tracking tool hosted by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

To protect and connect natural areas and biodiversity, the six Eastern partners have identified nearly 700 Emerald Network sites with an area of 12.8 million hectares, more than four times the size of Belgium.

 

EU support actions reach every level of society, from government policy all the way to raising awareness among primary school children, as you can see from the examples below:

In Armenia, the Connecting Nature project supports the search for new, environmentally friendly ideas and solutions to environmental problems in Yerevan – for instance, to determine the types of plants and trees that are most suitable for a given environmental situation for different areas of the city.

In Azerbaijan, EU experts from Finland, Austria and Latvia trained more than 200 employees of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources to monitor air quality; the Twinning project developed a detailed plan to modernise air quality monitoring systems, including the acquisition of 25 new air quality stations.

In Belarus, schoolchildren have been taking part in a cross-border river cleanliness project on the Styr River that runs between Belarus and Ukraine, testing water quality and learning to detect nitrates, phosphates, and organic pollutants.

In the Batumi region of Georgia, a €6.1 million project has ensured the rehabilitation of the water supply and sewage systems, as well as the construction of waste treatment plants, leading to uninterrupted clean water for the population, and reduced marine pollution.

In Moldova, the burning of agricultural waste used to be a source of environmental pollution. Now, with EU support, the waste is in great demand to produce biofuel, which is used to heat 206 schools, kindergartens and public institutions.

In Ukraine, more than 7,000 people took part in the 2019 #EUBeachCleanup challenge with 234 clean-ups in every oblast in the country, as part of International Clean Beach Day, when citizens around the world gather to clean river banks and beaches. More than 35.7 tonnes of waste were collected and removed to prevent them from polluting the waters.

And across the region, officials from all countries received guidance on the environmental management of plastic waste, marine plastic litter and energy recovery from plastic waste during a TAIEX workshop on EU plastics strategy and single use plastic.

 

Investment in green infrastructure is also very significant, with the support of the EBRD, the EIB and the E5P alongside other investment partners. In Ukraine, this has enabled investment in clean public transport, with new trolleybus fleets in Kherson, Mariupol and Lviv, as well as €35 million in support for waste management in Lviv. In Moldova, residents of Balti, have benefited from EBRD investment in energy efficient heating and new electric buses. In the Armenian capital Yerevan, EIB funding has contributed to the upgrade of the metro and improving energy efficiency in public buildings such as kindergartens. In Azerbaijan, the EBRD has provided financing for the purchase of 35 new eco-efficient buses, leading to an annual reduction of 2,853 tonnes of CO2. In Belarus, 300,000 people are benefiting from improved water quality thanks to an EBRD loan and an E5P grant for wastewater treatment facilities in seven municipalities. In Georgia, the EIB provided a long-term loan to Tbilisi’s water utility company to support its water and wastewater infrastructure development programme, while the EBRD is to invest €75 million in the modernisation of Tbilisi metro.

  

  1. 6.      How can I become more environment-friendly?

 

As a citizen, you have the right, the capacity and the duty to take action for the environment. 
Your everyday life choices as a voter and a consumer have the power to drive change in government policies, as well as companies’ decisions and innovations. 

Consider the environmental footprint of all your purchases and reduce them, choose local products, avoid polluting substances and single-use plastic, reuse, recycle, separate, compact and dispose of waste correctly. 

Adopt simple energy saving habits such as switching off lights and appliances, and closing and opening windows and shutters to keep ideal room temperature.

To save water, take a shower instead of bath, and keep it short. Don’t leave taps running, and look out for any leaks (a leaking toilet can waste 200 litres of water per day). Water your plants in the late evening or early morning, when less water is lost through evaporation.

Share your vehicle, unused objects or excess food with other people in your community, and opt for more sustainable transport and energy from renewable sources.

If you can, keep your own fruit and vegetable garden (you can even use pots on a balcony or urban orchards), eat less meat and prefer plant-based meals, buy more diverse and less processed food, and bring your own bags and containers when shopping.

Check out the EU’s climate tips for easy environmental advice for home, work, shopping and transport.

 

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