Armenia is a landlocked and mountainous country, where forests compose 11.2 percent of the territory, while specially protected areas – 13 percent.
According to the World Bank data, Armenia is among the top 60 countries exposed to multiple hazards, with 80 percent of Armenians at risk of experiencing a catastrophic event. Armenia’s major risks of natural disasters are: earthquakes (the whole country is prone to earthquakes); drought (98 percent of the country is at risk) and flooding (31 percent). Landslides and mudflows are also among the most devastating natural disasters and their cost to the society and the economy is very high.
As of now, 82 percent of lands are under degradation and different levels of desertification, with significant levels of contamination by chemicals and heavy metals.
There are still problems with water quality and water supply issues - for instance 60 percent of wastewater is being discharged into open basins without any treatment. There are 475 urban and rural waste dump sites which do not correspond to sanitary and hygienic requirements, and there are almost no specialized sites and facilities for waste utilization, recycling and disposal.
Extremely rich Armenian biodiversity is also under a threat: around 150 species of animals and 357 of plants are registered in Red Data Book of Armenia.
The country has ratified many international conventions that address issues such as biodiversity, ozone layer protection, climate change, and desertification, but it continues to face problems with respect to air, water, soil pollution, and threatened ecosystems that may bear significant health and economic consequences.
What we do
UNDP is almost twenty years on the ground and we assist Armenia in:
Reducing the impact of climate change, as well supporting the country’s participation in international cooperation mechanisms;
Promoting green urban development with a focus on energy efficient lighting;
Protecting environment through elimination of obsolete pesticide stockpiles and ozone depleting substances;
Developing and implementing the Country Programme for Phasing out Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS);
Creating an effective system of disaster risk reduction as well as raising awareness on better disaster preparedness;
Securing involvement of NGO sector to promote solutions of environmental issues through UNDP/GEF Small Grants Programme;
Strengthening biodiversity protection through building national and local capacity in protected area and forest management institutions;
Promoting sustainable land management practices and preventing land degradation, contamination of groundwater sources and promoting sustainable land management practices;
Supporting rural communities in mainstreaming biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in production landscapes and sectors;
Piloting innovative income generating activities aimed at ensuring the financial sustainability of the protected areas network, including development of new innovative management modalities.
Supporting the government in strengthening the National Council of Sustainable Development chaired by Prime Minister.
Some results so far
A private public partnership between the Municipality of Yerevan, Public Services Regulatory Commission, Avan district in Yerevan and a private investor resulted in $8 million direct private investments in the reconstruction of the Avan district heating supply system.
In 2010 UNDP and the municipality of Spitak repaired a boiler house that provides heating to the community’s kindergarten, school and City Hall. The boiler house, constructed in the 1990s, was in poor condition and operating with less than 60 percent efficiency. As a result of reconstruction, it is estimated that 30,000 cubic meters of gas and 57 percent of electricity can be saved each year, reducing green house gas emissions by 47 tons of CO2.
The municipality of Kajaran drew up a proposal to improve the energy efficiency of the local kindergarten, as part of the town’s environment and health programme. It’s estimated that the kindergarten’s new solar water heaters will help to reduce the use of natural gas for heating water by approximately 40 percent; and energy efficient doors and windows will decrease natural gas consumption during the heating season by another 10 percent.
The Ministry of Emergency Situations developed a National Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy and Action Plan and established a National Platform, Crisis Prevention Center and Observatory (See: Armenia: Reducing the Risk of Disaster);
Government of Armenia, with the support of UNDP, produced and submitted a National Assessment Report to “Rio+20” Summit participants;
The National Assembly adopted the Law on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the government adopted the related sub-legislative acts.
Ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were totally phased out in Armenia by 2010.
Starting from 2013 the government established new quotas for import of ozone depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
UNDP reinforced capacities of local forces in the Syunik region by donating key pieces of forest fire early response equipment to “Kapan” and “Syunik” forest enterprises and “Arevik” National Park before the start of the high fire season.