Green Lab 2019 – Youth Lead Discussion on Armenia’s ‘Green’ Agenda
YEREVAN, Armenia – On November 16-17, 2019, the Acopian Center for the Environment of the American University of Armenia (AUA), in cooperation with the Heinrich Boell Foundation South Caucasus, held a two-day event titled Green Lab Armenia 2019. Youth Leading the Green Agenda.
The Lab brought together thirty young leaders from Armenia’s regions and Yerevan to deliberate on what they considered to be the major environmental concerns in their communities. The primary concerns they voiced included overuse and pollution of water resources, poor waste management, deforestation, negative impacts of mining, lack of urban green zones, and threats to biodiversity conservation.
Their discussions focused on the opportunities and challenges for local change, including what the country’s laws empower citizens to initiate. Participants shared their experience in organizing public initiatives. Working together and with domain experts present at the Lab, they worked on articulating their issues by basing them on evidence as well as the need for an inclusive and participatory approach.
The Lab offered a unique platform for participants to consider the value of forming coalitions and networks that can help youths become successful change-makers to address local and national environmental challenges.
Two keynote speakers addressed the Green Lab Armenia 2019. Lena Nazaryan, Vice President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, spoke about the role of youths in developing an agenda for progress; and Robert Ghukasyan, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Armenia on community development, spoke about asset-based and inclusive community development.
Nazaryan noted that “Armenia lacks the strong institutional capacity, especially for addressing environmental concerns. There is a substantial need for policy-makers to base their decisions on solid research and evidence-based information. Therefore, we as a country need to put extra effort in strengthening institutions, where young people will have a big role to play in that process.”
“Strengthening local governance and participatory decision-making is of ultimate importance for Armenia. Communities have a huge potential for development using existing assets and resources. This can become possible only through an inclusive policy-making approach. If citizens sense that they are not part of the solution and that their voices are not heard, not only will they not help but they may even become a part of the resistance to change,” said Ghukasyan.
The agenda, materials and video recording of the event are available on the AUA Acopian Center’s Green Lab Armenia 2019 webpage.
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.