INTERNATIONAL PRESS CLUB LAUNCHES "ECOLOGICAL WEEK-2017"
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The new approaches to environmental protection in Uzbekistan were discussed at the regular meeting of the International Press Club, where the "Environmental Week-2017" kicked off. The speakers involved Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Ecology Uktam Utaev, Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis Boriy Alikhanov, acting UNDP Resident Representative in Uzbekistan Farid Karakhanov. It was also attended by deputies of the lower house of parliament, representatives of several ministries and departments, NGOs, journalists.
World Environment Day celebrated on June 5 in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution 1972 became a notable and mobilizing event in the international environmental calendar. It makes a significant contribution to deepening knowledge about ways of preserving and improving the environment, conducting mass campaigns, initiating actions at the political level. The slogan of the World Environment Day in 2017 says "I am with nature".
Traditionally, the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Ecology and Environmental Protection together with the UNDP Representative Office in Uzbekistan organizes the events of the "Ecological Week" timed to coincide with this ecological date. This year, the program of the Environmental Week includes meetings, environmental actions for the cleaning of territories, other events in the city of Tashkent and the regions of Uzbekistan. They are aimed at raising public awareness about the state of the environment, rational use of biological resources, waste management.
Speakers noted that Uzbekistan has become an active participant in the global environmental policy by implementing the objectives of the world declarations, conventions and other UN agreements in the field of environmental protection.
Observing the norms of international law in the field of sustainable development and based on the basic principles and provisions of the Constitution, Uzbekistan carried out a legislative reform that created new and improved existing legislative acts in the field of ecology and environmental protection that meet world standards.
Strategic documents such as the action program for protection of the environment, conservation of biodiversity, cessation of the use of ozone-depleting substances and the first initiatives in the field of climate change have been adopted and are being implemented.
An important stage in improving the organizational structure of environmental activities was the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On Environmental Control", which provides the legal basis for active participation of all civil society institutions in environmental protection system and the process of solving environmental problems. In addition, given the important role of NGOs in protection of nature within the social dialogue, projects on state contracts and grants are being implemented which are aimed at improving the environmental situation in the regions.
The measures taken have made it possible to reduce the level of atmospheric pollution, improve the functioning of the main watercourses, expand the networks of protected natural areas, i.e achieve certain improvements in environmental management practices and environmental protection.
In order to reorganize the system of public administration in the sphere of ecology and environmental protection, by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan the State Committee for Nature Protection has been transformed into the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Ecology and Environmental Protection, which subordinates and is accountable to the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The main tasks and functions of the newly formed State Committee for Ecology and Environmental Protection include public administration, coordination, interagency cooperation in the field of ecology, environmental protection, rational use and reproduction of natural resources.
As the speaker noted, in order to ensure environmental safety, development of social infrastructure for improvement of living conditions of the population, and other tasks envisaged in the Action Strategy for five priority areas of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021, the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On improvement of the public administration system in the field of ecology and environmental protection", the decision of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On measures to ensure the organization of work of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Ecology and Environmental protection" and "On measures for radical improvement and development of waste management system in 2017-2021" have been adopted.
Along with this, one of the new tasks of the State Committee for Ecology and Environmental Protection is organization of an effective system for collecting, transportation, processing, utilization and disposal of domestic waste.
Speakers of the meeting drew the attention of the audience to another critical issue. So, environmental offenses, which unfortunately occur, require serious amendments to the environmental legislation, significantly strengthening the measures of responsibility, increasing the penalties for violations of the law.
In 2016, the Committee identified 18,269 cases of administrative offenses in the environmental field, 7,187 of which are related to environmental pollution with waste. Current situation was due to insufficiency and low effectiveness of administrative penalties for violations of environmental, sanitary standards and requirements in the field of waste management. In this regard, it is envisaged to introduce amendments to the Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan on administrative responsibility aimed at strengthening responsibility.
In addition, experts in the field of ecology noted that environmental protection requires public participation and, accordingly, enhanced public environmental control. Priority in activities should be preventive measures that would prevent existing cases of poaching, illegal tree cutting.
It was noted at the end of the meeting that one of the objectives of the "Ecological Week-2017" is to draw attention to environmental issues, increase interest and participation of each citizen in the environmental protection process.