Environmental planning for green growth

Local environmental planning for mainstreaming urban green growth

Former Soviet Union republics share the experience of economic and social turmoil after the independence in 1991. The collapse of the centrally planned economy and the exposure to world market competition have resulted in massive inflation, unemployment and an almost total breakdown of the pre-existing welfare system and public institutions such as social services and health care. The local planning, as an inheritance from the Soviet system, is still implementing only by high level governmental bodies without consultations with other local stakeholders, leading to a planning maladjusted to local needs. In this context, citizens practice their business activities without taking into consideration these existing government strategies. Furthermore, as these planning document are note adapted to local natural conditions, the business activities are led without consideration of their overall impact on the environment.

So far no system of structural local planning including environmental objectives and indicators exists in Central Asia. Meanwhile, experience continues to show that better environmental management and planning at the local level contributes improving health, resilience to environmental risks, economic development and livelihood opportunities, especially for the poorest communities.

A strengthening of local environmental management and the development of local governmental institutions dealing with environmental issues are important conditions for environmental democracy and joint local environmental problem-solving promotion, with the active inhabitants’ participation and ecological partnerships development. One of the effective practical instruments for the enhancement of public participation in important decision-making concerning environment is the implementation of Local Environment Action Plans (LEAPs).

In 2003, The Regional environmental centre for Central Asia (CAREC) together with the Regional environmental centre for Central and East Europe (REC CEE) and the Regional environmental centre for Caucasus (REC Caucasus) began to develop this interesting tool within the frame of the regional project “The Strengthening of Local Environmental Management in EECCA Countries”. From 2003 up to 2007, CAREC has implemented several projects in the CA region covering training, assessments on local needs, local experts’ capacities assessment and building, and creation of methodologies and guidelines in the field of the Local Environmental Action Plans development.