Input Paper „Over­view of the current situa­tion and chal­len­ges of the Euro­pean Green Deal in the Repu­blic of Moldova“

Foto: Shut­ter­stock, Alexey Struyskiy

Im Rahmen unseres Pro­jek­tes „Öst­li­che Part­ner­schaft Plus“ ver­öf­fent­li­chen wir eine erste Reihe von Input Papers zum Thema Kor­rup­ti­ons­be­kämp­fung in der Ukraine, Geor­gien und Moldau. Die Autoren aus der Region (Nata­liya Andru­se­vych, Manana Koch­ladze, Iuliana Can­t­ara­giu) ana­ly­sie­ren die Rolle der Euro­päi­schen Union bei der Unter­stüt­zung der Umset­zung des EGDs und for­mu­lie­ren ihre Hand­lungs­emp­feh­lun­gen an die Ent­schei­dungs­trä­ger in Berlin und Brüssel.

By Iuliana Can­t­ara­giu, cir­cu­lar economy expert

Over­view of the current situa­tion and chal­len­ges in envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and climate sectors

Envi­ron­men­tal quality in the Repu­blic of Moldova falls below expec­ta­ti­ons, and the country will have to over­come great chal­len­ges in order to improve it. Air, water, soil quality and bio­di­ver­sity indi­ca­tors have shown nega­tive trends for the past 10 years. The main sources of water and soil pol­lu­tion are was­te­wa­ter, solid waste and fer­ti­li­zers used in agri­cul­ture. Trans­port is the princi­pal source of air pol­lu­tion. Given the envi­ron­men­tal and climate pres­sure, forest coverage in the country, at 11.4%, is too low. Agri­cul­tu­ral land accounts for 72% of Mol­d­o­van ter­ri­tory; most of it used for inten­sive agri­cul­ture, which has a signi­fi­cant impact on soil and surface water quality.

The poor quality of the envi­ron­ment and fre­quent and inten­sive climate events affect the country’s economy and the health and quality of life of its population.

One reason for this unhappy state of affairs is that no government of the Repu­blic of Moldova has ever atta­ched prio­rity to envi­ron­men­tal or climate pro­tec­tion. That these issues have figured at all on the agendas of Mol­d­o­van governments has largely been due to pres­sure from deve­lo­p­ment part­ners rather than to a reco­gni­tion on the part of the Mol­d­o­van government that envi­ron­men­tal quality and quality of life are related or an awa­reness of the urgent need to change its approach to improve the situation.

Under the government led by Maia Sandu (June–November 2019), there were indi­ca­ti­ons of an intent to place envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and climate higher on the agenda, but such good inten­ti­ons became irrele­vant upon the dis­mis­sal of that government.

The situa­tion in the field dete­rio­ra­ted after the reform of the public central aut­ho­ri­ties, which began in 2017, when the envi­ron­men­tal, agri­cul­tu­ral and regio­nal deve­lo­p­ment minis­tries were com­bi­ned into one minis­try. In a country in which little impor­t­ance is atta­ched to envi­ron­men­tal issues, placing the pro­tec­tion of the envi­ron­ment in the hands of a major pol­lu­ter means that any effort to protect the envi­ron­ment will be blocked or at least wea­ke­ned. The merging of the minis­tries took place despite con­si­derable efforts to prevent it on the part of civil society.

The govern­men­tal rest­ruc­tu­ring and reform that begun in 2017 was sup­po­sed to con­ti­nue with reforms in sub-minis­te­rial agen­cies. Unfor­tu­n­a­tely, the reforms of several such agen­cies, such as the forest agency, “Mol­d­silva”, and the agency “Apele Mol­d­o­vei” (Mol­d­o­van Waters), still have not been fully imple­men­ted and several are faced with dis­crepan­cies in acti­vity and/​or accu­sa­ti­ons of cor­rup­tion. As part of the same reform pro­gramme, an envi­ron­men­tal agency was created to imple­ment envi­ron­men­tal policy, but it has not been equip­ped with suf­fi­ci­ent staff or funding to enable it to fulfil its obligations.

Envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion efforts in the Repu­blic of Moldova are hin­de­red by a shor­tage in funding in addi­tion to the chal­len­ges in insti­tu­tio­nal manage­ment and capa­ci­ties. Annual natio­nal budgets have not allo­ca­ted suf­fi­ci­ent resour­ces to envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion to enable the exis­ting chal­len­ges to be addres­sed; sec­to­ral stra­te­gies and pro­gram­mes esti­mate that hund­reds of mil­li­ons of euros would be necessary. It is the­re­fore quite important to re-eva­luate funding in this area and stream­line bud­ge­t­ary allo­ca­ti­ons in such a way as to ensure that finan­cial resour­ces are used trans­par­ently and in accordance with the prio­ri­ties set out in policy docu­ments for envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of the green economy.

The focus of efforts to improve the current state of the envi­ron­ment should be on pol­lu­tion reduc­tion mea­su­res, a refo­re­sta­tion program and the con­ser­va­tion of bio­di­ver­sity. This will require a complex approach invol­ving reform in several areas: legis­la­tive reforms, impro­ve­ment of the control and enfor­ce­ment of legis­la­tion, the deve­lo­p­ment and impro­ve­ment of a variety of finan­cial mecha­nisms and incen­ti­ves for envi­ron­men­tal pro­jects, the impro­ve­ment of the network moni­to­ring envi­ron­men­tal indi­ca­tors, incre­a­sed invest­ment in envi­ron­men­tal and climate pro­jects and infra­st­ruc­ture, and last but not least, streng­t­he­ning the envi­ron­men­tal agen­cies to enable them to imple­ment the reforms. The first step should be to re-estab­lish the Minis­try of the Envi­ron­ment, com­plete the reforms of the sub-minis­te­rial agen­cies and streng­t­hen the capa­ci­ties of the envi­ron­men­tal insti­tu­ti­ons to enable them to advo­cate for better climate and envi­ron­ment poli­cies and enforce such poli­cies without poli­ti­cal inter­fe­rence or corruption.

 

The EU’s role in sup­por­ting the envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and climate programs 

The Repu­blic of Moldova does not have an umbrella stra­tegy covering sus­tainable deve­lo­p­ment in place. The signi­fi­cant poli­ti­cal insta­bi­lity in the country for the past few years has hin­de­red the deve­lo­p­ment of a natio­nal stra­tegy for sus­tainable deve­lo­p­ment by the rele­vant agen­cies. There was a natio­nal deve­lo­p­ment stra­tegy enti­t­led “Moldova 2030” was deve­lo­ped 2017–2018. This stra­tegy built around ten pillars, that took into con­si­de­ra­tion the SDGs and targets set in Agenda 2030. However, the fre­quent changes of government in the past years and snap par­lia­men­ta­rian elec­tions pre­ven­ted its formal adop­tion, thus the stra­tegy never entered into force.

None­theless, the pro­vi­si­ons of “Moldova 2030” have served as the basis for the stra­te­gies pursued by the member states of the Euro­pean Union in their coope­ra­tion with the Repu­blic of Moldova.

The EU’s coope­ra­tion with the Repu­blic of Moldova takes place within the frame­work of the Eastern Part­ners­hip policy initia­tive. The legal instru­ment under­pin­ning this coope­ra­tion is the Asso­cia­tion Agree­ment (AA) between the Euro­pean Union and the Repu­blic of Moldova, which was signed in 2014. The AA’s purpose is to incre­ase the sta­bi­li­sa­tion and resi­li­ence of the Repu­blic of Moldova as a neigh­bou­ring country of the Euro­pean Union and to deepen coope­ra­tion in various areas. Its pro­vi­si­ons focus on har­mo­ni­sing the natio­nal legis­la­tion of the Repu­blic of Moldova with the Euro­pean Union acquis. The Asso­cia­tion Agenda, deve­lo­ped on the basis of these pro­vi­si­ons and the situa­tion in the country, sets out short and long-term prio­ri­ties and a roadmap for imple­men­ta­tion of selec­ted prio­ri­ties. Chap­ters 16 and 17 of the AA are devoted to envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and climate change miti­ga­tion and adap­t­ation mea­su­res, respectively.

Moni­to­ring of AA imple­men­ta­tion is per­for­med annu­ally on the Par­lia­men­tary, Government and civil society plat­forms. Con­di­tio­na­li­ties built into agree­ments for finan­cial support are based on the results of the moni­to­ring of the Asso­cia­tion Agenda and on the poli­ti­cal situa­tion in the country.

It should be men­tio­ned that there is no stra­te­gic docu­ment focu­sing on coope­ra­tion regar­ding the Euro­pean Green Deal in place between Euro­pean Union and the Repu­blic of Moldova.

However, the Repu­blic of Moldova does have in place several topic-spe­ci­fic stra­te­gies that include pro­vi­si­ons on emis­si­ons reduc­tions, envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, waste manage­ment and/​or rene­wa­ble energy. There is also an Inter-minis­te­rial Working Group on Sus­tainable Deve­lo­p­ment and Green Economy that was estab­lis­hed in 2015 within the frame­work of the EU4Environment program for EaP coun­tries. This working group deve­lo­ped the Road Map on Green Economy, which out­lined short- and medium-term actions for 2018–2020 and for the imple­men­ta­tion of the 2014–2023 envi­ron­men­tal strategy.

There is no spe­ci­fic roadmap detail­ing how the Repu­blic of Moldova should engage in the Euro­pean Green Deal, but there is an action plan/​roadmap for gree­ning the economy, which was deve­lo­ped under EU4Environment program. The action plan mainly inclu­des soft mea­su­res, such as the support of rese­arch, trai­ning pro­grams, support in legis­la­tion development.

Whether there is suf­fi­ci­ent poli­ti­cal will for reform and to initiate the eco­lo­gi­cal moder­ni­sa­tion of the country will depend on the results of the upco­m­ing elec­tions (11 July 2021). If pro-Euro­pean parties gain a majo­rity in the newly formed Par­lia­ment and form the new government, the chances that the reforms needed will be deve­lo­ped and imple­men­ted are higher. Other­wise, there is no reason to expect any major change in the status quo.

The con­di­tio­na­lity mecha­nism incor­po­ra­ted into the micro­fi­nan­cing agree­ments between Euro­pean Union and the Repu­blic of Moldova has suc­cee­ded, to some extent, in pushing anti­cor­rup­tion forward in the Government agenda. It seems likely that the use of the same mecha­nism of con­di­tio­na­lity within the frame­work of finan­cial agree­ments and the open­ness of the Euro­pean market for Mol­d­o­van pro­ducts that comply with EU envi­ron­men­tal stan­dards will incre­ase the Mol­d­o­van Government’s inte­rest in incor­po­ra­ting the green agenda into its prio­rity areas.

In view of the current state of the envi­ron­ment in the Repu­blic of Moldova, the first reforms should focus on the reduc­tion and pre­ven­tion of pol­lu­tion and on the con­ser­va­tion of bio­di­ver­sity, inclu­ding the refo­re­sta­tion program. Thus, was­te­wa­ter manage­ment, waste manage­ment and forest manage­ment should be prio­rity areas.

 

Con­crete recommendations:

Short and medium term prio­ri­ties in the Repu­blic of Moldova should be on impro­ving and enfor­cing legis­la­tion, invest­ments in infra­st­ruc­ture, the deve­lo­p­ment of finan­cial mecha­nisms and incen­ti­ves, capa­city buil­ding in the rele­vant insti­tu­ti­ons and impro­ve­ment and exten­sion of the network moni­to­ring envi­ron­men­tal indicators.

Recom­men­da­ti­ons:

  • With respect to the Eastern Part­ners­hip frame­work (Asso­cia­tion countries):
  • Intro­duce the ful­film­ent of good envi­ron­men­tal gover­nance requi­re­ments as a con­di­tion for the pro­vi­sion of finan­cial, eco­no­mic and sec­to­ral support to the EaP coun­tries and promote good envi­ron­men­tal gover­nance, based on a trans­pa­rent and inclu­sive decision-making process and invol­ving dif­fe­rent stakeholders;
  • Insist that EaP governments work towards estab­li­shing strong envi­ron­men­tal insti­tu­ti­ons that are able to adopt and imple­ment new poli­cies and regu­la­ti­ons in line with the envi­ron­men­tal acquis of the EU;
  • Estab­lish a mecha­nism for moni­to­ring the imple­men­ta­tion – not only the adop­tion – of envi­ron­men­tal laws adopted pur­suant to AAs in EaP coun­tries within the EaP Envi­ron­ment and Climate Change Panel, inclu­ding regular reporting;
  • Incre­ase support for mea­su­res aimed at incre­a­sing envi­ron­men­tal awa­reness and know­ledge about envi­ron­men­tal reforms within EaP coun­tries governments and societies;
  • Allo­cate a portion of the funding for the 2021–2027 period to support pro­jects aimed at pro­mo­ting the imple­men­ta­tion of the rele­vant envi­ron­men­tal legis­la­tion, as this helps to streng­t­hen the insti­tu­tio­nal framework.
  • With respect to EU Green Deal within the frame­work of the Eastern Partnership:
  • Pay greater atten­tion to pro­mo­ting the EU Green Deal in the entire Eastern Part­ners­hip region, stres­sing that it entails a change in the eco­no­mic course of the bloc and will directly affect the eco­no­mies of the EaP coun­tries. It is highly important to change the per­cep­tion of the climate crisis as an “envi­ron­men­tal problem” and create a greater under­stan­ding of the scale of the risks that climate change poses for the eco­no­mies and finan­cial sta­bi­lity of EaP coun­tries. It is also important to create con­di­ti­ons con­du­cive to lear­ning about the poten­tial for the deve­lo­p­ment of a green, climate-neutral economy in the EaP region

 

Refe­ren­ces

  1. The envi­ron­men­tal state of the Repu­blic of Moldova. Natio­nal report based on envi­ron­men­tal indi­ca­tors for 2015–2018, Envi­ron­men­tal Agency, 2020, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YD6esULO-JNJGhTmN1P8U2Ft228B8hGH/view
  2. Repu­blic of Moldova. Vol­un­tary natio­nal review. Pro­gress report 2020, Government of the Repu­blic of Moldova, 2020, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/26346VNR_2020_Moldova_Report_English.pdf
  3. App­ly­ing Fiscal-bud­ge­t­ary instru­ments to solve envi­ron­men­tal issues, Inde­pen­dent Think-Tank Expert Group, Natio­nal Envi­ron­men­tal Center, Alex­an­dru Fala, Dumitru Pintea, Iuliana Can­t­ara­giu, Ina Coseru, 2020, https://www.expert-grup.org/media/k2/attachments/Eng_-_Studiu_Instrumentele_fiscal-bugetare_aplicate_yn_domeniul_mediului_compressed.pdf
  4. State­ment of the envi­ron­men­tal civil society orga­niz­a­ti­ons on inclu­ding the envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and adap­t­ation to climate change as a prio­rity area in government acti­vity program, 21.11.2019, https://environment.md/public/files/88fb6a189cf888d5437063a928fdd304.pdf

Iuliana Can­t­ara­giu, cir­cu­lar economy expert

 

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