On 8 June 2021, the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) held online a national workshop in Uzbekistan. The workshop focused on strengthening national and regional capacities and co-operation on the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in Central Asia, including as a response to climate change, implemented in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
Some 30 representatives from the State Committee for Ecology and Environmental Protection of Uzbekistan, different key ministries and agencies, and national and international experts attended the workshop.
Participants discussed the principles of the SEA and its benefits, including the state of its implementation in Uzbekistan. The aim was to introduce and discuss the results of the needs assessment report on the SEA and the importance of integrating recommendations into the action plan for establishing a national SEA system in line with the SEA Protocol.
Hans-Ullrich Ihm, OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan and Deputy Head, highlighted the role of the SEA in introducing the environmental perspective in governmental policies and programmes. “Uzbekistan, in the last year, has implemented several environmental reforms, with particular reference to environmental legislation with best practices and standards on the environmental impact assessment and the SEA, supported by the PCU.”
Sarangoo Radnaaragchaa, UNECE Regional Advisor, highlighted the importance of the SEA as a key instrument for integrating environmental and health considerations into strategic planning and decision-making at the very early stage of development. “The SEA helps prevent and mitigate possible damage from economic and regional development, which supports the SDGs attainment and efforts towards the transition to the green economy,” said Radnaaragchaa.
Barbara Beckert, German Environment Agency Project Co-ordinator, reiterated how the SEA has proven to be an effective tool to make environmental impacts visible. “The SEA can be seen as a contribution to overall environmental protection. The project strengthens the Aarhus Convention and can be a model project for neighbouring countries.”
Saule Ospanova, OSCE Senior Environmental Advisor, said: “The OSCE is particularly committed to assisting its participating States in the implementation of the Espoo Convention and its SEA Protocol. This event supports the OCEEA’s long-term efforts to promote green growth and sustainable development principles to strengthen environmental security in line with the OSCE’s comprehensive approach to security.”