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Swedish-Armenian Cooperation Launches Waste Governance Policy Process for Armenia

YEREVAN, Armenia ‒ The Acopian Center for the Environment of the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted a kick-off workshop on December 5-7 for the Swedish-Armenian SDG Expert Exchange Program on solid waste governance funded by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  

The goal of the project is to help the Armenian Government update and further reform its national solid waste policy based on the principles of a circular economy. Waste types addressed by this program include household, construction and demolition, agricultural, industrial, automotive, and medical waste. Mining and radioactive waste are covered in other Armenian Government initiatives.

In a circular economy the goal is to divert production waste and post-consumer materials away from landfills and put back into the economy as material, nutrient, or energy resources. The approach also seeks to reduce waste production.

“By decree of the Prime Minister, we now have an Interagency Task Force which examines waste management in Armenia. I look forward to this workshop and the subsequent activities of the Swedish-Armenian exchange project to contributing to these extremely important activities, so that they result in the development of a new national strategy on Waste Governance in Armenia,” said Arsen Gasparyan, senior adviser to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia (RA).

At the workshop, participants discussed the existing waste management situation in Armenia. Additionally, they identified areas where waste management could be improved, and challenges that could be overcome. The participants, representing the Government, civil society, and business, agreed to work as a group to develop policy and a roadmap for this sector.

“We were moved by the dedication of the participants to the Workshop. They were engaged, committed to understanding the paths and solutions, and persistent in seeing how it applies to local conditions in Armenia,” said Eva Svensson Myrin of Miljö & Avfallsbyrån AB, one of the Swedish experts visiting Armenia. “They did not let us move from one topic to another unless they fully and deeply understood the various practices and solutions we talked about.”

“The participants were also surprised to discover that there is a lot of capacity, knowledge, and experience with waste management in Armenia,” said Harutyun Alpetyan, circular economy expert and the project’s lead expert at the Acopian Center for the Environment. “Moving forward, we want to consolidate our knowledge and efforts, as well as assess Armenia’s capacity and needs in waste governance. This will help us support government policymakers in developing waste management policy and strategies.”

The discussions also focused on Armenia’s transition to circular economy. Armenia has the chance to leapfrog the technologies and approaches to waste management and adopt circular economy principles from the start. “In Sweden, we have so much vested capital in waste incineration, which is a linear economy solution to waste, so it is more difficult for us to introduce circular economy solutions,” said Myrin, “Armenia has a chance to do it differently using more advanced approaches.”

The Swedish-Armenian Expert Exchange Program on Solid Waste Governance is a partnership between the Armenian Government, AUA Acopian Center for the Environment, the Swedish LIFE Foundation and Miljö & Avfallsbyrån AB. The initiative is funded by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For more information about this project and its Kick-off Workshop visit: http://waste-ace.aua.am/.

The AUA Acopian Center for the Environment, a research center of the American University of Armenia, promotes the protection and restoration of the natural environment through research, education, and community outreach. The AUA Acopian Center’s focus areas include sustainable natural resource management, biodiversity and conservation, greening the built environment, clean energy, and energy efficiency, as well as information technology and the environment.

Media Coverage:

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