Eco Week 2017 starts with discussion of new approaches to environmental protection
Eco Week 2017 in Uzbekistan kicked off on May 31 with a Press Club session at the Media Centre of the National TV and Radio Company. Organized by the State Committee of Uzbekistan for Ecology and Environmental Protection in collaboration with UNDP Uzbekistan, the Week celebrates World Environment Day annually marked on 5 June.
Press Club speakers included Deputy Chairman of the State Committee Uktam Utayev, Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Chamber of Parliament Boriy Alikhanov, and UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Farid Garakhanov.
The speakers noted that in accordance with the global goals of sustainable development, the state is systematically working on biodiversity conservation, stopping the use of ozone-depleting substances and implementing the first initiatives in the field of climate change. In particular, the country passed a Law “On Environmental Control,” which provides the legal framework for the active involvement of all civil society institutions in environmental protection and solution of environmental problems. Also, a Presidential Decree “On Improving the Public Administration System in the Sphere of Ecology and Environmental Protection” and a Decree “On Measures for Cardinal Improvement and Development of the Waste Management System for 2017-2021” have been adopted. In addition, given the important role NGOs play in environmental protection, governmental grant projects have been put in place in an effort to improve the environmental situation in the region. In order to improve the system of public administration in the area of ecology, the State Committee for Nature Protection has been transformed into a State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Ecology and Environmental Protection, whose main tasks are management, coordination, interagency cooperation in the field of environmental protection, rational use and reproduction of natural resources, among others.
Garakhanov named the primary activities of UNDP in Uzbekistan in the field of ecology and energy – climate change, natural resources and natural disasters. He also said two new environmental projects have been started; one is designed to boost the energy efficiency of rural housing in Uzbekistan and the other is aimed at preserving snow leopards, whose population is rapidly declining worldwide.
Journalists asked questions related to violations, in particular, tree felling in Tashkent, utilization and recycling of domestic waste, Aral Sea problems, development of ecotourism, indicators for monitoring the state of the environment and other important issues. Answering the questions, the speakers noted that in 2016 the State Committee identified 18,269 cases of administrative offenses in environmental protection; 7,187 of the cases were associated with environmental pollution with waste. The situation was due to the inadequacy and low effectiveness of administrative sanctions for such violations; therefore, there are plans to introduce amendments to the Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan aimed at strengthening responsibility. It was also said that work on the system of indicators is already underway and will be available to the public in the near future. As for the Aral Sea problem, adoption of a special international UN convention on this issue is expected.
Speakers emphasized that environmental protection is not limited to the adoption and implementation of legislative acts and joint projects with international organizations. The most important portion of these efforts is personal attitude and everyone’s participation in the process, and environmental education should begin in the family.
The Eco Week is held every year to raise public awareness of environmental issues. This year, a series of seminars, roundtables, media tours, conferences, meetings, clean-up campaigns and other events are slated to take place in Namangan, Andijan, Fergana, Termez, Tashkent, Jizzakh, Samarkand, Gulistan and Karshi. The events will draw public attention to the importance of environmental protection while encouraging the public to take good care of natural resources.