Video: Watch our international "Nordic Talk" on waste management

29.09.2022 (Caucasian Journal). The first Nordic Talk involving Sweden and Norway as well as Armenia and Georgia took place on September 2. Hosted by Caucasian Journal in Tbilisi, the Nordic Talk focused on ways for improving the Nordic assistance programs in Armenia and Georgia, looking in particular at the case of the waste management sector. It also focused on grassroots initiatives in this area and what governments could learn from civil society.

Today we are pleased to present the video summaries of our  international discussion - now available in original (English), as well as with subtitles in Armenian and Georgian. 

▶ Հայերեն: Video subtitled in Armenian is here.

▶ ქართულად: Video subtitled in Georgian is here.

What is a Nordic Talk? It is a series of live talks and podcasts addressing the biggest global challenges, organized internationally with support of the Nordic Council of Ministers. 

This session of the Nordic Talks discussed how to benefit from the experience of Nordic partners in engaging civil society partners to improve public policy outcomes in the waste sector. Both Georgia and Armenia have cooperated with Nordic countries, including in the field of waste governance. We have invited experts from all 4 countries as well as leaders if many environmental NGOs, which have programs related to waste management. It is not very common for waste management experts from neighboring Georgia and Armenia to join in discussing the problems of region, while participation of Norwegian and Swedish experts has made the event even more unique. A special angle of discussion was feedback from environmental NGOs.

The discussion is now available in original (see below), and with subtitles in Armenian and Georgian. To be first to view all our exclusive video interviews, please subscribe here to our YouTube Channel.

Discussion highlights:

One of important key issues addressed in the Nordic talkers’ presentations  were  the “lessons learned” –  the practical Swedish and Norwegian experiences  which are relevant  to what the South Caucasian countries are facing today.  

The speakers noted that the Nordic experiences should not be “copypasted” and explained the need to adjust to local conditions.  Dr. Thomas Lindhqvist  from Lund University, for instance, said: “We - the Swedes and, I suppose, Norwegians - we have a tendency sometimes to propose what we did ourselves, and we are influenced by our experiences. We try to understand the conditions of the countries where we are working, but it's not easy.”

Professor Thomas Lindhqvist (Sweden) :
We need pressure: Very little may happen if you don't have a civil society.

Particular attention was paid to the challenges posed by introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in Georgia and Armenia, and the appropriate experience accumulated in the Nordic countries, which pioneered the EPR use.   Nancy Strand from Avfall Norge recalled the conflict of interests between the producers and the municipalities, who needed to discuss the distribution of expenses between municipalities, citizens, and EPR system.  “So, what could be a lesson learned is that when you have the opportunity of starting the EPR system, there must be ways of establishing meeting places for such discussion”, - she advised.

Armenian and Georgian participants also have paid much attention to the role of public sector and NGOs, as well as the journalists and mass media. It was reflected in the comments by the Nordic talkers as well. “Actually you need interaction between the NGO sector and the politicians.  I think that's very important.  I also think to engage the journalists, the media to focus on "What we are doing today is not acceptable"”, - said Nancy Strand (Norway).  “Yes, we need pressure, – agreed Professor Lindhqvist  (Sweden), - Very little may happen if you don't have a civil society.”

Dr. Hripsime Mkrtchyan (Armenia):
All the staff who is working with waste should be trained all the time. They should learn what they do, and why they do.

We are quite satisfied that in the course of Nordic Talk a series of practical suggestions have been formulated, both by the Nordic and the South Caucasian participants. 

For example, both Georgian and Armenian NGO activists emphasized the need for training the staff of waste management practitioners at all levels.  “Throughout our work during the pilot project with UNDP we worked with municipal operators in Tbilisi and Batumi, and on all levels we saw lack of knowledge”, - complained Tatiana Remneva (Georgia). “All the staff who is working with waste should be trained all the time. They should learn what they do, and why they do”, - agreed Dr. Hripsime Mkrtchyan (Armenia). 

Our distinguished participants were:

Mr. Alen Amirkhanian (Armenia), Director, American University of Armenia (AUA) Acopian Center for the Environment
Dr. Alexander Kaffka (Georgia), Editor-in-Chief of Caucasian Journal

  • Narine Avetyan (Armenia), Armenia’s Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure 
  • Harutyun Alpetyan (Armenia), Waste management expert at the American University of Armenia (AUA) Acopian Center for the Environment 
  • Maka Tsereteli (Georgia), The Greens Movement of Georgia / Friends of the Earth Georgia 
  • Dr. Sigrun Jahren (Norway), Senior Executive Consultant, Agency for Waste Management, Oslo City Government 
  • Nune Harutyunyan (Armenia), Director, The Regional Environmental Centre for the Caucasus (REC Caucasus) 
  • Dr. Mariam Kimeridze (Georgia), GSNE Orchis / Keep Georgia Tidy
  • Dr. Thomas Lindhqvist (Sweden), Senior lecturer, The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics, Lund University
  • Dr. Hripsime Mkrtchyan (Armenia), EcoAghb (EcoWaste) 
  • Tatiana Remneva (Georgia), Parki ar minda
  • Gega Salukvadze (Georgia), Chairman, Mountain Resorts Businesses Association
  • Nikoloz Shurgaia (Georgia), Chairman of the Executive Council, NPO Sadagi
  • Nancy A. Strand (Norway), Senior advisor, Avfall Norge
Caucasian Journal considers waste management a high priority problem in this region, and hopes our Nordic Talk would play a useful role in further development of this critical field. We would be thankful if our readers cooperate in sharing and reposting the Armenian and Georgian videos in our countries. For international distribution, you may also use the version in English without subtitles: link

It was already the second Nordic Talk organized by Caucasian Journal. The first one, held last year, focused on green energy education (video). 

Caucasian Journal's Nordic Talks are featured in Nordic Talks website 

Caucasian Journal appreciates kind support of Nordic Council of Ministers in preparation of this event.

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