Over the course of ten years of its fruitful work, the Covenant of Mayors East brought together national stakeholders, regional authorities, local governments, civil society, and communities from almost 500 municipalities from the six Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. With more than 42% of the total population living in the municipalities committed to CoM East objectives, there is a clear positive trend of local authorities in the region joining the initiative.
The cooperation within the initiative aims to embark on the path of energy and climate transition, share the experience among signatories of the project, exchange the best practices, take advantage of the technical expertise and funding opportunities, encourage each other, and jointly search for efficient solutions to shared obstacles.
Organised in the framework of the EU-funded project Covenant of Mayors – Eastern Partnership, the high-level conference “10th Anniversary of the Covenant of Mayors in the Eastern Partnership Region” will take place on 29-30 November 2022 in Tbilisi, Georgia. The Conference will host over 150 representatives, including local and national authorities, associations of local officials, and other stakeholders from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, along with the EU institutions, EU Member States and international organisations’ representatives.
“I am very happy to see that the Covenant of Mayors initiative in the Eastern Partnership is ready to deliver on the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The ambition to cut emissions by 35% by 2030 demonstrates that your municipalities are truly stepping up to this challenge. With over 460 signatories, the Eastern Partnership region is a frontrunner and a great example for local authorities around the globe,” said Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East and Institution Building from the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) at theEuropean Commission.
During the Conference, speakers will present the progress achieved by the Covenant and its signatories, and will reaffirm the EU’s strong political will to support EaP authorities in designing and implementing sustainable policies. The event will offer opportunities for discussing the main bottlenecks and barriers encountered by the signatory cities, providing effective recipes for success. It will also outline the future of the initiative and EU support to EaP municipalities in the perspective of the Green Deal and other European initiatives. The workshops, taking place on the second day of the event, will create a space for dialogue between local, national, and EU representatives on the implementation of SECAPs, examples of demonstration projects, and climate policy objectives.
Along with the project’s 10th Anniversary in the Eastern Partnership countries, the event also marks the launch of the CoM East third phase that started its work earlier this year. Moreover, from 2014 to 2021 a total of 33 Covenant of Mayors demonstration projects were implemented in the framework of the initiative with the budget of around 38.5 M€.
The Eastern Partnership countries, throughout the past ten years, were able to build a strong and supportive Covenant community, where both ministries and regional authorities’ associations play an important role by assisting the signatories in meeting their CO₂ reduction commitments and implementing climate change adaptation measures.
On 26 November, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the European Commission would pay for the transportation of 40,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain on two ships, as part of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s ‘Grain from Ukraine’ initiative.
This will be on top of the 28 million tons of agri products shipped via the EU’s Solidarity Lanes and the Black Sea Grain Initiative, von der Leyen added.
Ukraine launched the ‘Grain from Ukraine’ initiative at the International Summit on Food Security, organised in Kyiv on the anniversary of the Holodomor, the starvation of millions of Ukrainians caused by Soviet policies in 1932-33.
“90 years after the Holodomor, we honour the memory of Ukraine’s victims. They died in silence, starving to death, and, at that time, the world did not rise to help them. We will not let this happen again,” said von der Leyen. “Today, Russia is again using food as a weapon.
As part of its brutal aggression against Ukraine, Russia has destroyed your agricultural production, targeted your grain silos, and blockaded your ports.”
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Speaking at the session - "EU candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova, potential candidate status for Georgia: the road to membership", the Deputy Minister highlighted that given the new geopolitical realities, it is important to develop new approaches and a new vision for the EU.
In this context, the need for more involvement and support from the EU was highlighted. Teimuraz Janjalia spoke about the irreversibility of Georgia's accession to the European Union and noted that the recognition of the European perspective brought the relations with the European Union to a completely newer level and opened up new opportunities for the country. The Deputy Minister focused on the importance of greater economic and sectoral integration with the European Union, which will support the country's progress on the path to accession and practically prepare it for this goal.
The deputy minister spoke about the importance of peace and stability in the region and emphasized the role of EU support in strengthening the country's resilience to hybrid threats.
December 31, 2022 is the deadline set by the Law of Georgia "On Tobacco Control" for the regulation of plain packaging of tobacco products to come into force. Plain packaging was expected to enter into force in 2018, but was postponed until the end of this year. Currently, a legislative initiative on another postponement of this deadline has been submitted to the Parliament of Georgia. We call on the Parliament of Georgia to reject this legislative initiative and ensure that the plain packaging regulations will enter into force within the timeframe specified in the current law.
To reduce the enormous health, social and economic damage caused by active and passive tobacco use in Georgia, the Parliament of Georgia adopted a strong tobacco control legislation in 2017, which was later recognized by international organizations and experts as a visionary law that serves as an example for many countries in the region. Just two years after the successful implementation of this law, studies show a significant decrease in tobacco use and second-hand tobacco smoke pollution in Georgia, which resulted in the reduction of the burden of tobacco-attributable diseases.
To build on this success, further comprehensive tobacco control measures need to be implemented in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Regulation on plain packaging for tobacco products is one of the most powerful regulations that make tobacco products less attractive and reduce the ability of tobacco products to mislead consumers about the harms of smoking.
The United Nations in Georgia would like to commend the firm position of the decision-makers of the Parliament of Georgia of various convocations and the Government of Georgia on the smooth implementation of tobacco control regulations. We hope that the Parliament of Georgia will take immediate steps to avoid another postponement and to ensure the plain packaging regulation enters into force in the beginning of 2023 and will thus help to protect the health of the current and future generations of Georgia.