Within the scope of the USAID-funded project “Support MEPA in implementation of Law of Georgia on Environmental Liability”, on February 21st 2023 an online webinar was held to present environmental damages calculation methodologies to relevant stakeholders and discuss the secondary legislation improvement suggestions under the new Liability Law. The webinar speaker Mr Renato Conti presented the environmental damages calculation methodologies, highlighting the Italian approach as an example to follow when developing Georgian Secondary Legislation.
The Government of Georgia has been focusing its efforts on devising policies, laws and strategies that promote environmentally conscious practices in these sectors. One of these laws, the Law on Environmental Liability, forms an important legal basis and is a huge step for Georgia in the development of its green economy. The purpose of this Law is the legal regulation of issues related to environmental damage based on the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Currently, the Environmental Supervision Department and National Environmental Agency are working on the creation of relevant units (divisions/sub-divisions) within their respective structures for environmental liability as well as working on drafting by-laws as indicated in Article 29 of the Law.
Renato Conti explained that a dangerous activity being carried out that produces substantial measurable negative effects represents the primary element triggering environmental liability. Environmental Damage Assessment (EDA) – the primary methodology to be adopted to measure liability – should be connected to (i) economic affordability of the restoration; (ii) comprehensive consideration being given to derivative effects; (iii) affected people’s interests and opinion; (iv) likelihood of success in consequential litigation. Addressing the challenges in the water management sector, with a specific focus on the regulation of environmental pollution (including the pollution of water bodies) is part of the framework of supporting the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (MEPA) in the practical implementation of the Law on Environmental Liability. The framework for remediation of water damage requires further improvement with the consideration of best international practices and case studies, mainly developing pollution prevention standards in line with respective EU directives and practices. The ultimate goal is to prevent pollution and facilitate the implementation of Georgia’s water resources management commitments under the EU Georgia Association Agreement as well as to build capabilities in local organizations to be able to further provide support in this area.
Several constraints hindering the reform of the water management system passed by Georgia’s governmental Authorities were identified by the USAID Program in its Systems Approach Policy Value Chain Analysis for the Implementation of the Water Resources Management Reform (WRMR) report. The most critical issues to the successful implementation of the reform are water-related data, lack of river basin management (RBM) mechanisms, GOG coordination as well as lack of, or poor pollution prevention tools and enforcement practices. Pollution prevention issues are addressed by Environmental Liability Law, although it lacks scrutinized practical implementation steps and methodologies. Therefore, even though the draft secondary legislation and application guidelines have been prepared already by the Government of Georgia, a supplementary legislative package, which would establish a sound ground for the implementation of the above law is now deemed necessary. Under the Scope of Work (SOW) of the current assignment, the drafting of secondary legislation addressing criteria for determining remedial measures and rules for developing a remediation plan and the determination of environmental damage compensation is required.
The specific objectives of the project are as follows: