Yerevan, Armenia – On the 15th of March 2021, the official online launch event of the EU- and Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)- funded Project “Environmental Protection of Lake Sevan” (EU4Sevan) kicked off with participation of Mr. Romanos Petrosyan, the Minister of Environment of RA, H.E. Ms. Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin, Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, and H.E. Mr. Michael Johannes Banzhaf, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Armenia. The project is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the coordination of the Ministry of Environment of RA.

EU4SEVAN project plans to enhance the capacities of public and private stakeholders to ensure improved wastewater treatment through nature-based solutions and to support the local stakeholders in ecosystem-friendly and water-protecting land-use and cultivation. Water monitoring and management capacities for the Lake Sevan watershed will be one of the key outputs of the project. The project intends to raise awareness about the significance of the protection of Lake Sevan among the basin communities, the private sector, and other stakeholders. In cooperation with UNDP, the project aims at further and sustainable improvement of Lake Sevan ecosystem governance in Armenia.

The Project launch event brought together the EU4SEVAN donors, representatives of the national and Gegharkunik local government and the diplomatic corpus in Armenia, public and private sector partners and experts, as well as the media representatives to celebrate the official start of the Project.

Minister Petrosyan, Ambassador Wiktorin, and Ambassador Banzhaf welcomed all the participants. In her welcoming speech, the Ambassador Wiktorin noted: “While addressing with the dual COVID-19 and post-war crises are the focus of our immediate efforts in Armenia, climate change, biodiversity loss, excessive use of resources and pollution are also existential and global emergencies affecting both EU and Armenia. They are as relevant as ever. Therefore, the full implementation of CEPA, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Climate Agreement and internationally agreed biodiversity goals remain crucial to help better equip Armenia and all Armenians for future systemic shocks. The European Green Deal and its Green Recovery dimension are top priorities in the EU-Armenia and Eastern Partnership agendas. This new EU4Sevan partnership shows once again the strong EU-Armenia engagement in the environmental protection of a unique Lake Sevan. Together, let’s protect and sustainably enjoy Lake Sevan!”

The participants were also warmly welcomed by Minister Petrosyan who expressed his readiness to support the project future activities and events as a reliable partner of the project. In her opening remarks Ms. Mihaela Stojkoska, UNDP Resident Representative, highlighted the relevance of the project at the current stage of the environmental situation of Lake Sevan and emphasized the fruitful cooperation on environmental issues of all the partner organizations.

During the event, Mr. Christian Henschel, GIZ Team Leader, EU4Sevan presented in detail the goals, objectives, and expected results of the EU4SEVAN project to protect the Lake. Mr. Henschel also highlighted the 5 Outputs through which the positive changes will be made for the Lake Sevan. In addition to the key outputs of EU4SEVAN, the Project will implement fast track activities aimed at neutralizing the economic and social consequences of COVID-19 jointly with the Ministry of Environment and “Restoration of Riparian Zones in Armenia” COVID-19 Response Project implemented by GIZ. The activities include the planting of around 600,000 willow cuttings and fruit trees in the riparian zones of a number of rivers in Gegharkunik as well as the collection of waste from riverbeds and riverbank vicinities in Spring 2021 and ensuring short-term employment for 750 residents most affected by the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19. Within the COVID-19 fast response measures, the EU4SEVAN project is planning to support local farmers in cultivating new varieties of cabbage on around 3 ha area providing significantly 2-3 times more income for local farmers, 2 times less water consumption through ecosystem-friendly cultivation practices.

Lake Sevan is the largest freshwater lake in the Caucasus Region and is the most significant source of freshwater, irrigation water, aquaculture, as well as hydropower source in Armenia. Its condition has direct bearing on the region’s environmental health and Armenia’s economic potential. This Project will build on existing achievements and plans and will complement and support interventions that contribute to enhance the environmental protection of Lake Sevan (outcome). The overall budget for the EU4SEVAN project is € 5,7 million and the commissioning period of the project is from September 2020 till August 2024.

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