The FINANCIAL — Interview with Manana Kochladze, Chair (official) at Green Alternative
Q. What does green business mean to you?
A. For me, green business is a sustainable business. It consumes few resources, is local and serves the interests of the local community.
Q. Why should a business go green?
A. It is very profitable for a business to be green. A business which is green consumes less energy, or energy from renewable energy sources, as well as other material or natural resources. Consequently, they have less of a negative impact on the environment and at the same time they pay less for modest energy.
Q. What are the main problems in the field of environmental sustainability?
A. There is no effective framework for environmental governance in Georgia, in Georgia that leads towards increased environmental problems , including air and water pollution, deforestation and impact on human’s health.. There is no planned strategy for how to solve these problems. There are issues which can be more easily resolved, without any additional resources. However, there are problems that require significant investments but they are priority and need to be solved by government. Therefore what’s very important is for there to have an environmental policy framework that defines these priorities and allocates resources and instruments in order to solve those problems.
Q. Do you think that the existing law is effective in terms of protecting Georgia from companies with the most negative impact on environment?
A. If the law was good, private individuals or judicial entities could not harm the environment. The laws that we have are mostly outdated or ineffective, since there is a narrative in Georgia that first we must develop the economy and then take care of the environment.
For example, we talk about air pollution narrative is that state could not request polluting companies to stop polluting environment as the investments in environment protection measures are expensive, companies may refuse and stop operation and this considered to be bad for employment situation as well as for economy .As a result, air pollution heavily impacts on people’s health. But worsening people’s health status has serious implications on the economy. E.g. In 2016, according to State Audit office government spent approximately 120 million lari to fight consequences of air borne disease and this may be 1/3 of total spending of those diseases. This is a money that has been withdrawn from economy, both in terms of improving living conditions.
Additionally, the Government periodically fines companies, and then these companies complain against fine , and there is endless court processes. However, flines are not an effective way to solve a number of problems, including historical pollution, permanent emissions due to the industrial process. In this cases there is important to suspend the operations and developed well based planned for improvement if possible. In some cases, government rather to fine the companies can even stimulate them through various economic instruments, to install environmentally friendly technologies, as it is recognized practice in lots of the countries. However, again it needs the clear and transparent regulations for introduction and application of those various tools.
Q. Which companies are considered the most damaging to the environment?
A. They are RMG Gold, Chiatura Mines, Zestafoni Ferroalloy Plant, Tkibuli mines, Heidelberg Cement in Kaspi. In short, in Georgia, where there is a so-called industrial zone, and therefore there is a very difficult situation in terms of environmental pollution.
Q. What are the main challenges Green Alternative is facing at present?
A. Basically, we are working on all the issues that are are priority in the country. This concerns the mining industries and their ineffective regulatory framework; as well as the development of hydropower stations, protection of biodiversity and forests, expansion and management of protected areas system.