Minister Ayvazyan At UN 12th Session on Sustainable Development

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Armenia
to the United Nations
119E 36th street, New York, NY 10016
Tel.: 1-212-686-9079
Fax: 1-212-686-3934
E-mail: [email protected]

May 1, 2004


Armenia’s Minister for Nature Protection participated at the 12th
session of the Commission on Sustainable Development

>From April 28-30, 2004, the delegation of the Republic of Armenia, headed
by H.E. Vardan Ayvazyan, Minister for Nature Protection, participated at the
High-Level Segment of the 12th session of the Commission on Sustainable
Development, held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The
High-Level discussion focused on the issue of sanitation and human
During the session Minister Ayvazyan made statements on water and
sanitation, which are considered to be core elements for sustainable
development. In his remarks he noted that the United Nations and its
agencies and funds, as well as international financial institutions could
play an important role in the implementation of national programs aimed at
addressing water and sanitation challenges in the country. He urged to focus
on rehabilitating dated sanitation systems and providing for new
environmentally and ecologically sound technologies.
Speaking about water issues, the Minister noted that Armenia suffered some
serious water problems, including water quality. Much of the water came
from underground, and was of a good quality. By passing through obsolete
water supply systems it loses its quality. Moreover, 50% of the water
entering the system gets lost due to leakage. In 2002, the country had
adopted a Water Code, with a focus on basin management, the first to be
developed and implemented in the South Caucasus. It had helped to introduce
integrated water resource management in the country.

Full texts of Minister Ayvazyan’s statements:

Statement by H.E. Vardan Ayvazyan
Minister of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia
at the High-Level Segment of the 12th session of the
Commission on Sustainable Development
April 30, 2004
(Statements and interactive discussion focusing on “Water”)

Dear Chairman,
Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

For the Republic of Armenia, a mountainous country situated in an arid
region of the South Caucasus, the problems of the protection of water
resources, water quality, and access of the population to clean and safe
water are actual problems not only from ecological, but also from economic
and social perspectives.

In this regard it is worth mentioning here that the sustainable management
of the water resources remains one of the most important issues in Armenia.
The absence of an integrated approach to the management and use of water
resources in the period of economic crisis of the 1990s led to such negative
consequences as decline in the access to water supply, deterioration of the
water quality and gradual degradation of the corresponding infrastructure..

It should be mentioned that more than 90% of the drinking water used in the
country is formed out of the underground water sources. This water is of
quite a high quality, but as it passes through water supply systems, which
are very dated and do not correspond to sanitary requirements, the quality
of the water significantly deteriorates. Moreover, 50% of the water entering
the system gets lost due to leakage.

In the water policy of our country great attention is paid to the question
of financial assistance from international financial institutions for the
implementation of national water programs. In this connection I would like
to emphasize the activities of the UN Agencies, the World Bank, and other
financial institutions, as well as the donor countries aimed at assisting in
the implementation of environmental programmes, particularly in the field of
water resource protection, such as the restoration of the ecological balance
of the lake Sevan, which is one of the unique natural water reservoirs on
the planet. According to expert estimates, this freshwater mountain lake,
situated 2000 meters above the sea level, is the only perspective source for
drinking water in the South Caucasus. Starting from the 1930s, the water
resources of the lake were used for agricultural and energy purposes, which
resulted in the drastic decrease of the water level for about 19,5 meters.
Activities undertaken by the Government of Armenia during the last few years
led to the increase of the water level for about 1 meter.

In 2002 the new Water Code of Armenia was adopted. One of the main ideas of
the Water Code is the creation of basin management system that will
contribute to the sustainable use and integrated water resource management.
I would like to mention that Armenia is the first country in the South
Caucasus to introduce the basin management system. In the same year the
National Council on Water, headed by the Prime-Minster, became operational.
Since then more than 100 normative and regulatory acts have been elaborated
and adopted. The establishment of basin management bodies continues. The
articles of the Water Code are being vigorously implemented. Financial
assistance from our international partners in this phase could greatly
contribute to the sustainable water resource management.

One of the priorities of the Armenian Government is the elaboration of the
National Water Policy and the National Water Programme. In the National
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper special attention is paid to the
advancement of the irrigation system, which aims to increase the
effectiveness of the agricultural activities and mitigate the
desertification processes.

The improvement of the financial mechanisms in the water sphere would aim at
achieving a speedy resolution to the water problems in Armenia in the
context of country’s sustainable development. Armenia’s joining the
strategic partnership on water in Johannesburg was in compliance with that
approach. I consider the EU’s Water Initiative and its component for the
Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and the Central Asia, in particular, a
good basis for the development of real mechanisms of cooperation aimed at
the realization of both the decisions of World Summit on Sustainable
Development and the regional and national action plans. This would be our
contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in the
field of water resources.

In conclusion I would like to state that the Government of the Republic of
Armenia recognizes that the effective and comprehensive management of the
water resources could provide for the sustainable and environmentally
justified economic development of the country.

Statement by H.E. Vardan Ayvazyan
Minister of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia
at the High-Level Segment of the 12th session of the
Commission on Sustainable Development
April 30, 2004
(Statements and interactive discussion focusing on “Sanitation”)

Dear Chairman,
Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As it was stated in Johannesburg, ensuring availability of safe water and
adequate sanitary conditions is a core element for sustainable development.
Creation of a healthy environment and prevention of adverse impact of
unfavorable environmental factors on the health of the population are
several of the main goals that were duly reflected in the national
programmes and action plans adopted by the Government of Armenia in the
recent years. Water-resource management, water supply and sanitation are
considered to be determining factors. The implementation of these programmes
implies intersectoral cooperation and integrated planning. Support from
international organizations, and that of the UN agencies in particular, can
be very instrumental and play a positive role in implementing these
It should be noted here that the economic mechanisms regulating the
reduction of water pollution are not yet sufficient in Armenia. We are
actively working towards the creation of appropriate legal and institutional
systems, which could provide for the allocation of financial resources to
the end of solving the acute problems in the water sector.
The 1990s were marked by economic crisis and decline of the industrial
production by over 70% in Armenia, whereupon the untreated or poorly treated
municipal and agricultural wastewater became the main source for the water
In most of the human settlements, the wastewater drains into water objects
either bypassing the treatment plants or, if they go through treatment
plants, gets an inadequate treatment. The problem is exacerbated by the mere
fact that none of the existing 20 wastewater treatment plants in Armenia
function in full capacity. Wastewater undergoes a partial mechanical
treatment only.
All treatment plants were put into operation before 1990 and the
technologies applied there do not correspond to the actual demands. In
addition, these technologies were developed taking into account the low-cost
of the energy consumption at the time, and their utilization presently is
associated with colossal expenses.
It is also worth mentioning that with the projected economic growth and
recommencement of industrial activities the water quality can deteriorate
because of the absence of necessary infrastructure for wastewater treatment.
In this respect, I would like to draw your attention to a point which was
rightfully brought up in paragraph 46 of the Document on Sanitation
(E/CN.17?2004/5), stating that there is a necessity for shifting the
evaluation of sanitation system from the monitoring of the existence or
absence of appropriate infrastructure to the efficiency of its functioning.
As far as Armenia is concerned, the problem is not the absence of such
infrastructure, but rather its poor functioning and deterioration.
Accordingly, for countries like Armenia, the rehabilitation and
modernization of the wastewater treatment plants through the utilization of
modern technologies, as well as the construction of new ones are a priority
as far as the provision of safe water and quality of surface and ground
water is concerned. The latter is an integral part of our national policy in
the field of water resources. To solve these problems under current
conditions great financial resources are needed, and the Armenian Government
is creating stimulating economic mechanisms today to attract these
The problems existing in Armenia related to the condition of water resources
and sanitation can be solved gradually parallel to the economic development
of the country, the possible increase of the state budget capacities, the
creation and implementation of new mechanisms for a target-oriented
financing and with adequate environmental administration, as well as
significant financial assistance for the national programmes by
international financial institutions.


From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS