Public Participation in Environmental Legislation Decision-Making Process: Possibilities, Obstacles, and Practice

On June 9, 2015, the American University of Armenia (AUA) Center for Responsible Mining (CRM), in partnership with Caucuses Environmental NGO Network (CENN) and Aarhus Center in the city of Alaverdi (Lori region), conducted a training on promoting public participation in the legislative process for environmental laws.

The training was developed and delivered by the Environmental Law Resource Center at Yerevan State University, headed by Professor Aida Iskoyan, an expert in national and international environmental law. The aim of the training was to raise awareness about the importance of public participation in decision-making processes related to environmental laws and to provide the participants with the information and tools required to effectively participate in the legislative process. The trainers stressed the importance of building capacity in local communities, equipping them with the ability to address environmental legislation constructively by engaging with state institutions at the local and national level.

The training included an introduction to the basic principles and mechanisms of public participation in the legislative process. The participants were provided with the relevant international conventions ratified by the Republic of Armenia that have provisions ensuring the public’s involvement in the legislative process related to environmental laws. Finally, the trainers presented practical tools the attendees could utilize to facilitate their participation in the legislative process, such as getting access to relevant environmental information and draft legislation through established state procedures. 

Participants included 17 members of local youth groups from student councils, youth initiatives, and members of local NGOs involved in environmental protection and the promotion of civil society. Media outlets were also present, such as “Hetq” online news journal and “Ankyun+3,” a local TV station that interviewed one of the trainers for a news story that is to air on their channel. 

The training was implemented within CENN’s regional project, “Promoting Environmental and Social Accountability in the Mining Sector in the Caucasus.” The goal of the project is to reduce poverty, enhance environmental and social security, and foster sustainable rural development. The project is being implemented with the financial support of Bread for the World, a German fund.