By Hrach Melkumian in Yerevan and Harry Tamrazian in Prague
Today, at the UN office in Yerevan, a group of 25 independent Armenian experts presented a report which they say is an assessment of the so-called sustainable development in processes of environmental protection, economy, and the social sphere. In 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio, world leaders set out an agenda to address the environmental, economic, and social challenges facing the international community.
The Armenian experts' report was prepared for the next World Summit on sustainable development, which will be held in South Africa in September 2002. Assessing the RIO+10 processes in Armenia, the UN sponsored report concludes that although Armenia participated in the Rio Summit in 1992 and signed all the documents adopted there, the government has done very little to address the issues of environmental protection and social and economic development. The Armenian government has no concept and strategy for the sustainable development of the country, there is no national council on these issues and there is no political will to fulfill these obligations.
The main goal of the RIO process is to harmonize economic, environmental and social and legal issues. In their assessment of sustainable development in Armenia, the experts say that the Armenian government in fact is moving away from the principles of RIO+10 process. "There was progress only in development of democracy and protection of human rights," said one of the authors of the report Karine Danielian, who is also a former ecology minister.
According to Danelian, in all other spheres of Armenian society there is a decline, including in the social sphere and in the economy. There was a big decline especially in the social field. The rift between rich and poor is growing. Environmental protection is also in bad shape.
"The government and the public as whole don't understand importance of the environmental issues. Only scientists and experts realize that these issues should addressed as a priority," said Samvel Baloyan, a former deputy ecology minister.
Frequent changes in the government also hamper efforts to harmonize social, economic and environmental issues. The National Report on sustainable development in Armenia concludes that the marginal imbalances in the economy, social sphere and ecology contradict the principles of RIO+10 processes.