The spectrum of ecological problems of Armenia is varied. Many of them have transformed from the past, found new quality and are of a certain danger for the sustainable and safe development of the republic.
- The problem of atmosphere pollution and the character of emission of dangerous substances are caused by the changes of infrastructure, industrial sector, quality and variety of means of transportation and the conditions of their exploitation. There is high risk of population morbidity and soil fertility reduction and damage of vegetation in Yerevan, Alaverdi, Ararat and in the adjoining territories. Transport remains the main atmosphere polluter.
- The problems connected with the polluting of water resources are especially topical. A wastewater treatment plant exists only for Yerevan city, which is implementing only physical treatment of wastewater. The quality of water in the rivers is not always up to normative indices. Almost all surface water bodies in Armenia have transboundary importance in the region. Water systems are in unsatisfactory technical condition.
- The Lake Sevan is a high-mountain reservoir of drinking water, which has significant national and regional importance. After reducing its size and depth due to human intervention, during 2000-2008 the level of the lake rose by about 3m. However, this did not improve the quality of water and the degree of its polluting by domestic wastewater flow remains alarming. Absence of the drainage station, new construction around the lakes and agriculture aggravate the situation. These problems are increasing risk to the lake’s ecosystem, leading to loss of endemic types of flora and fauna (biodiversity), and reduction of fishery and change of ecological-hygienic situation to the worse.
- The problems of treatment, storage and disposal of industrial and municipal waste are of no less danger to security. The mining companies are the biggest contributors to the waste generation. Waste management is underdeveloped as no waste sorting or recycling takes place at Armenia's landfills.
- In an attempt to offset a six-year-old energy crisis caused by blockades by Azerbaijan and Turkey, the Armenian government in mid-1995 reactivated the nuclear power plant at Metsamor, closed since 1988 after a catastrophic earthquake. Environmental groups opposed reopening of the plant, since it poses an environmental threat. Despite the availability of abundant renewable energy sources in Armenia the Government is working toward building a new Nuclear Power Plant at Metsamor.
- The process of ground erosion and pickling, initiating desertification, developed on the territory of the Ararat plain, the main agricultural area. The plain is constantly undergoing anthropogenic influence of Yerevan and city agglomerations. Ararat cement and gold-mining factories, the nuclear power-station and the international airport are sources of air, water and agricultural lands pollution and are conductive for deterioration of soil quality, polluted with ions of heavy metals. Soil intoxication is yet another problem and a result of reckless use of pesticides, in order to increase the yield. Usage of DDT has poisoned both soil and the rivers.
- Another threat to security is the critical situation of forest resources. Armenia is one of the low forest-covered countries, as its forests cover less than 10% of the total land area. Hence, the continuing deforestation of already scarce forest resources presents a significant environmental threat, combined with destroying consequences for habitats, irreversible losses of biodiversity, etc. Deforestation and overgrazing are provoking erosion and desertification. Specifically, major problems to wetlands and waterbirds are water loss, water balance disturbance, soil deterioration, pollution, garbage dumping, over-exploitation, factors of disturbance, invasive species. As of 2001, 7.6% of the total land area in Armenia is protected. Also as of 2001, 4 of the nation's 84 species of mammal were endangered, as were 5 species of bird and 3 species of reptile. Endangered species include the Barbel sturgeon, Dahl's jird, and the field adder.
- Special attention is required by the ecological problems of Yerevan. The rates of town building have sharply grown in the last years. General cutting out of trees in the parks and public gardens has turned “light cities” into a chain of architecturally unacceptable structures. Instead of permissible 7%, over 50 % has been built on. An uncontrolled garbage jam is being observed. Drinking water supply doesn’t meet the standards and air pollution is not controlled yet. The emission of dangerous substances caused by means of transportation has roughly risen. Bringing ecological public transport down to a minimum had a negative effect on urban environment quality especially according to indicators of noise, safety and risk.
- Caucasus region already suffers serious consequences of climate change on biodiversity and deposition of ice and snow. One of most obvious effect on nature will be landscape zones shift towards higher altitudes. Species extinction within the region is reaching alarming rate. Armenia is sharing some of the same ecosystems and biodiversity of the Caucasus region. As a result of climate change, the country is facing a shift in the distribution of key ecosystems; increased desertification and decreased river flow due to increased temperature and lower precipitation; decrease in agriculture; loss of pasture land productivity; increase in vector-borne diseases (like cholera, plague and malaria).
Volunteerism in Armenia has manifested itself in various forms, from the so-called “compulsory, coercive volunteering” with the former Soviet government, which mostly required that citizens provide free services to public projects, to “natural, freewill volunteering”. The Armenia Democracy and Governance Indicators survey of 2005 found that 66.7% of Armenian citizens were engaged in charitable or volunteer activity.
Pollution charges in Armenia are levied on air pollution from stationary and mobile sources, water pollution, and “placement” (i.e., storage and disposal) of waste.
- Program of Reconstruction of the Ecological Balance of Lake Sevan (1998),
- Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan of the Republic of Armenia (1999),
- NAP on Combating Desertification in Armenia (2002),
- SPA Development Strategy and Action Plan (2002),
- National Forest Policy and Strategy of the Republic of Armenia (2004), National Forest Programme of the Republic of Armenia (2004), Action Plan of Supporting Measures for Illegal Forest Loggings (2004),
- National Profile on Chemicals and Waste Management (2004),
- Implementation Plan 2005-2010 for the National Action Plan on Implementation of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Republic of Armenia (2004),
- Concept for Reduction of Harmful Emissions from the Motor Transport (2004), Set of Measures on Reduction of Harmful Emissions from the Motor Transport (2005),
- List of Measures on Fulfilling Obligations Assumed by the Republic of Armenia Under a Number of Environmental Conventions (2004), List of Measures for Intersecting Issues on Three Conventions – “On Bio-Diversity”, “On Climate Change” and “On Desertification” (2005),
- State Environmental Monitoring Concept of the Republic of Armenia (2006), Implementation Program for 2007-2011 on Issues Derived from the State Environmental Monitoring Concept of the Republic of Armenia (2007),
- National Water Programme of the Republic of Armenia (2006),
- National Program 2006-2009 on Implementation of Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation among RA and European Community and its Member States Addressed to the Integration in European Union (2006),
- Concept for Introduction of new biotechnology of artificial reproduction of populations of endemic species of fish of Lake Sevan (2006).
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Practical examples of socially responsible corporate behaviour from Armenia’s largest companies are frequent but they are mostly “stand-alone” activities, not embedded into the companies’ core strategies. This can possibly be explained by the fact that some Armenian companies do not recognise or even recognise but ignore the relationship of CSR to business benefits. Many of the Armenian corporations view CSR as a one-way obligation rather than something that provides tangible benefits and a lasting competitive advantage to their organisations.