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On March 27, 2015, in the WorldTradeCenter in Tashkent, the international round table “Institutional and legal framework and mechanisms for public involvement in environmental protection: experience of Uzbekistan and international practice” was held. The event, organized by the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan and its parliamentary group in the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan, was attended by experts from the United States, France, Italy and other countries, arrived in the country as international observers at the presidential elections of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as members of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan, representatives of the Ministry of Health, Ecomovement’s activists and officers, representatives of national NGOs and international organizations, and journalists.

The main objective of the round table is to build a broad discussion of the legal framework for public participation in addressing environmental issues at the global, regional and national levels, promote the legislative goals and mechanisms provided by the Law "On Environmental Control". The focus was also on study of public participation in environmental problem-solving and conservation in European countries and the USA in addressing environmental issues and activities for environmental control.

As the participants noted, environmental problems have no borders. Long-term negative impact on the environment caused by industrial enterprises, as well as unsustainable use of natural resources draw irremediable consequences and lead to severe environmental crises, such as the shrinking of the Aral Sea, transboundary contamination of the northern areas of Surkhandarya region and others. Mitigating multiple adverse effects of these processes on the environment and human health requires significant funds to be annually allocated for these purposes.

The experts of the round table emphasized that Uzbekistan has been implementing gradually and consistently a strategy of large-scale and creative political, social and economic reforms aimed at achieving prosperity and environmental security. The country is rapidly developing the system of state and social construction, successfully implementing the principle “From a strong state to a strong civil society”. Under these conditions, the role and importance of legislative acts in the regulation of complex environmental and institutional relations arising in the process of environmental conservation, health protection, natural resources management and environmental security increases sevenfold. The activity of NGO acquires an important role in national system of environmental protection.

Over the years of independence, a lot of work has been done to create a sound legislative framework in the field of environmental protection to provide the implementation of environmental audit and increase of environmental awareness.

The Law “On Environmental Control”, went into effect in 2013, defines the role, rights and obligations of NGOs in the implementation of environmental monitoring to ensure nature conservation and health protection. The law provides various forms of public environmental control and prescribes participation of institutions of local self-government, NGOs and others.

Ecomovement endevours to engage the wider public in the environmental activities and monitoring. In particular, in the 2014-2015, Ecomovement in partnership with the Ministry of Health is implementing a project on social order financed by the Public Foundation for Support of NGOs and Other Civil Society Institutions under the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The project “Development and implementation of a set of measures in assistance to children’s health policy in environmentally fragile areas of Surkhandarya region” cooperates with NGOs, health care institutions, local authorities and self-government bodies in order to effectively counteract the adverse effects of long-term transboundary contamination on human health.

With the support of governmental establishments and international organizations’ country offices a series of social projects and actions were implemented in the Republic of Karakalpakstan, Khorezm, Bukhara, Navoi, Jizzakh, Kashkadarya, Syrdarya, Ferghana, Namangan and Tashkent region. The main objectives are to increase environmental and legal awareness, enhance public participation in environmental activities and problem-solving.

Presentations made by foreign participants were dedicated to the experience of NGOs in the USA and European countries in environmental protection and monitoring were made.

Environmental legislation regards the right to a healthy environment as one of the fundamental human rights. In the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and other countries, an integral legislation system in the field of environmental protection is in force. In legal framework, NGOs act as a party of public environmental control. The foreign participants emphasized the significance and integrative nature of the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On Environmental Control”.

In a discussion, representatives of NGOs noted the relevance of sharing experience in environmental monitoring, enhancing public awareness and engaging citizens in improving the environmental situation from a regional perspective.

The participants of the round table approved recommendations on the agenda.

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