Issues of environmental protection, ensuring environmental safety and rational use of natural resources are one of the priority strategic directions of any state. As part of the environmental policy pursued by modern Uzbekistan for sustainable development, the country has implemented complex organizational, socio-economic, normative and legal measures.
Particular attention is paid to the formation of the legislative framework that creates legal conditions for the effective interaction between the state, environmental authorities, public organizations and civil society in this sphere. To date, about 20 laws, more than 450 by-laws on environmental protection and rational use of natural resources have been adopted. Uzbekistan joined, became a signatory and ratified more than 15 international conventions and protocols to them in environmental protection and rational use of natural resources. About 50 multilateral and bilateral agreements and memorandums were also signed. In addition, more than 120 laws and codes establish separate legal, economic and organizational requirements or separate articles devoted to environmental issues.
These legislative and organizational-institutional measures provided at the initial stage of the country’s development the solution of many problems related to the environmental protection, protection of the population from the negative impact of various sources of pollution.
The adoption of these laws in Uzbekistan was preceded by serious work on the creation of an integral system of economic regulation of nature management and environmental protection.
Currently, in Uzbekistan, a draft of the national Environmental Code of Uzbekistan is being developed in accordance with the Address of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the Oliy Majlis of January 24, 2020; with paragraph 212 of the State Program “Year of Development of Science, Education and Digital Economy” and the concept of environmental protection of the Republic of Uzbekistan until 2030.
The main idea of development of the draft Environmental Code is systematization of all existing acts of legislation in this sphere in a single codified law of direct action, unification of all environmental requirements and standards enshrined in these acts, elimination of existing contradictions and discrepancies in norms, white spots in the environmental legislation, implementation in the domestic environmental legislation of generally recognized international standards and experience of foreign countries, as well as ensuring the implementation of Uzbekistan's international obligations in this area.
Analysis of the acts of the current legislation and law enforcement practice revealed a number of problems and shortcomings: the large number and fragmentation of legal acts regulating environmental protection; the difficulty of access to them by the general public; the presence of contradictions between natural resource and environmental standards, as well as reference standards; various standards, criteria and requirements for business entities in matters of ensuring environmental friendliness of production; lack of mechanisms for environmental audit, environmental insurance, licensing, rationing, technical regulation of environmental management; blurred mechanisms of state support and incentives in the environmental protection and rational use of natural resources; lack of mechanisms to stimulate the introduction of innovative best technologies, quality management systems that meet international standards and others.
All these circumstances have actualized the issue of the need to create an Environmental Code of Uzbekistan, during the development of which it is possible to eliminate the above-mentioned shortcomings and incorporate the most effective legal norms and best practices of developed countries into the domestic environmental legislation.
When developing the draft Environmental Code, certain provisions of international conventions and norms of foreign legislation were taken into account, including the United States, France, Sweden, the countries of the Eurasian Union, Russia, Kazakhstan and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), EU Directives, international standards of the ISO system on quality control and environmental certification systems, strategic environmental assessment mechanisms, norms governing environmental planning, the practice of EU countries on the use of instruments for environmental regulation of environmental impact, the practical application of incentive and fiscal environmental taxes and payments, the procedure for public consultation of the European Bank for Reconstruction and development (EBRD), the World Bank’s policy aimed at reducing the risks of suspension and closure of projects at the request of the public, on financial liability insurance in case of damage incurred as a result of previous and future activities, etc.
Experts of the World Bank, UNICEF, UNEP, UNDP, OSCE, CAREC and many others are taking part in the development of the draft Environmental Code through organized workshops and webinars together with the Committee on the Development of the Aral Sea Region of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis, deputies of the Committee on Ecology and Environmental Protection of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis, specialists of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Ecology and Environmental Protection.
In order to systematize the structure and simplify the use of the norms, the proposed draft of the Environmental Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan is composed of 10 sections, 62 chapters, containing 547 articles.
The main provisions of the draft Environmental Code:
the basic principles of the environmental protection and rational use of natural resources, the main directions of the state policy, the mechanism of the state administration, the powers of the Cabinet of Ministers, 15 ministries and state committees, local government bodies, as well as the powers of civil society institutions, the rights and obligations of non-state non-commercial organizations, legal entities and individuals in this area;
the mechanisms of implementation of the parliamentary, state, departmental, production and public control reveal;
norms are introduced on permitting procedures, licensing, environmental regulation, technical regulation in the field of environmental protection and rational use of natural resources, the procedure for the implementation and application of international standards and rules of Conventions and international treaties in this sphere;
the norms for improving the procedure for conducting environmental expertise, environmental certification, environmental audit, environmental management are included, mechanisms for strategic environmental assessment are fixed;
economic mechanisms of environmental management, economic instruments of environmental protection are determined;
norms are established for the list of permits in this area and the procedure for their issuance and registration;
the procedure for the environmental declaration, environmental labeling and application of environmental labels for products, goods (works and services) are determined;
legal mechanisms are introduced to support and encourage government agencies to implement environmental protection measures, provide tax and credit benefits and provide subsidies;
norms are established that determine the types of state cadastres, environmental monitoring and the procedure for their implementation;
the environmental safety requirements for the protection and rational use of natural resources, as well as the management of waste, hazardous chemicals, radioactive and nuclear materials are defined;
norms are introduced on the environmental education and upbringing, scientific research in this area, international cooperation, as well as norms regarding environmental awareness of the population and citizens’ access to information on environmental protection;
the provision of administrative, economic and criminal liability, mechanisms of compensation and harm for violations in this sphere are determined.
The adoption of the draft Environmental Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan will make it possible to qualitatively improve legislation in the sphere of environmental safety, environmental protection and rational use of natural resources and its practical implementation for the benefit of the life and health of every citizen of the country.
Deputies of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis
of the Republic of Uzbekistan