On February 15, 2013, Professor Hans Wiesmeth, vice-president of the Saxon Academy of Sciences, delivered a presentation titled “Integrated Environmental Policies: Supporting the Sustainable Development of Georgia” to the academic community at the National Science Academy of Georgia. The event was initiated and supported by ISET. For the past five years, Prof. Wiesmeth has been a senior visiting professor at ISET, where he teaches an environmental economics course to second-year MA students.
Prof. Wiesmeth opened his talk by briefly reviewing current environmental conditions in Georgia. He focused primarily on the situation regarding the management of Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), which is at the lowest level of development.
At present, WEEE is not distinguished from other types of waste and this creates specific environmental problems for Georgia. An EU Twinning Project will provide guidelines for Georgia in order to start the management of WEEE in particular. However, these EU guidelines alone will not be sufficient unless environmental awareness is increased within the wider society and unless there is support among consumers and producers to engage in the waste management process.
The rest of the talk was focused on discussing the concept of an Integrated Environmental Policy (IEP) and developed recommendations on the specific ways to implement such policies in Georgia. The focus of such policies is to solve present economic allocation problems whilst, at the same time, taking into account the fate of future generations. Such policies are thus based on the concept of sustainable growth. Prof. Wiesmeth also discussed several structural problems associated with IEPs, for example, the negative externalities that might arise while implementing such policies.
In conclusion, Prof. Wiesmeth made several recommendations to help Georgian authorities to improve the current environmental situation: importers and wholesalers should pay import duties depending on the environmental characteristics of the products; people disposing of WEEE should be remunerated when they take WEEE to special collection points; there should be economic incentives for international producers to establish recycling plants in Georgia and they should be obliged to buy WEEE back.
ISET would like to thank Professor Hans Wiesmeth for providing such an interesting and engaging talk to the Georgian academic community and other specialists in the field.