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Discussion of the Road Safety Reform

On February 11th  the "Georgian Alliance for Safe Roads" (GASR) organized a high-level round-table meeting under the project “Effective Solutions for Safer Roads in Georgia” supported by EWMI ACCESS. The meeting brought together representatives of Georgian CSOs, heads of the parliamentary committees, MPs from the ruling party and the Speaker of the Parliament, Deputy Minister of Interior, Vice Mayor of Tbilisi and others.

Speaking of the amendments to the law on road traffic submitted to the Parliament in 2015 and advocated by GASR and other partner CSOs, the Speaker of the Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze and Majority Leader Archil Talakvadze stated that the Parliament is ready to pass the new law during this Spring Session. They said that thanks to the recent awareness-raising campaign, public opinion was now largely supportive of government intervention to reduce casualties and road accidents in Georgia. The government of Georgia was also strongly supporting the amendments. The Parliament plans to move fast to finalizing the discussion and making bold and effective decisions.

In response to “top killers” such as over-speeding, drunk-driving, illegal maneuver etc., GASR experts shared their policy paper recommendations prepared through ACCESS funding on the best model of penalty points, invisible/mobile cameras and unmarked traffic patrol (so called “contactless patrolling”) envisaged under the draft law.

Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs (MIA) underlined readiness to get the feedback from various stakeholders and shape the draft law accordingly. Full article about the meeting is available at ACCESS website.

Selection of Participants for the Non-Profit Management Training Program

In January 2017, EWMI ACCESS and its partner ‘Center for Training and Consultancy’ announced the opening of the third round of the 5-month certified training program in Management of Non-Profit Organizations. The program is designed for NGO managers and covers all aspects of the NGO and Project Management. Out of 75 applications, 21 participants were selected through an open competition. Training sessions will start in March 2017.

Economic Policy Research Center Presents Project Results

On February 23, the EWMI ACCESS Grantee “Economic Policy Research Center” presented results of the project that aimed at helping Georgian farmers and small processing enterprises to comply with DCFTA standards.  As part of the project, the Economic Policy Research Center conducted an in-depth analysis of the implementation of several responsibilities undertaken under the DCFTA. This included a) the mandatory registration-identification of domestic animals; and b) the state programs for farmers’ assistance and their compliance with DCFTA standards. Based on the analysis, two policy documents were prepared and presented to decision-makers and other stakeholders at the meeting. Key findings and recommendations are the following:

  • Explaining the purpose and process of the animal registration-identification, as well as motivating roughly 300,000 households owning up to 1.8 million units of domestic animals is a challenge for the government. Although the government has already introduced new legislative regulations, their implementation in practice is being significantly delayed. This is a serious issue as in 2020 these regulations will become mandatory for every household.
  • Various assistance programs carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia are focused on increasing the productivity and quality of Georgian products in general, which ultimately increases the competitiveness of Georgian products. However, these programs have less emphasis on DCFTA regulations. Georgian households need more targeted assistance in order to comply with new standards such as hygienic norms, packaging and labeling directives, introducing HACCP and Global Gap standard.

An intensive awareness-raising campaign was held within the project over the past few months. Information meetings were held in 5 regions of Georgia (Kakheti, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Kvemo Kartli, Shida Kartli, and Guria). In addition, local consultation centers in partner CSOs offices were set up and regional coordinators were actively involved in consulting interested farmers. As a result, more than 1000 farmers and producers received comprehensive information on DCFTA directives in these regions. A special guide book for farmers on EU regulations in the agricultural sector was also prepared and disseminated widely. In addition, the Economic Policy Research Center launched the web portal for Georgian farmers (georgianfarmers.wordpress.com) that provides practical information about DCFTA regulations. Around 200 articles, blogs and info-graphics were posted on the portal.

The project was funded by EWMI ACCESS.

CSR Club Members Hold Meetings Between Businesses and CSOs

Corporate Social Responsibility Club (CSR Club) members undertake various initiatives in order to facilitate cooperation between CSOs and business companies and encourage businesses to assume corporate social responsibility. In February, two joint meetings were held between businesses and CSOs to support the employment of CSO beneficiaries in business companies.

The first meeting was held on February 21st between the management of ‘Wissol Petroleum Georgia’ and CSOs, where the parties agreed to submit a list of CSO beneficiaries to the company. The company could then provide jobs to selected individuals, focusing on poor and socially disadvantaged groups. Consultation and coordination processes regarding this matter will continue.  

At another joint meeting on February 23rd, the insurance company ‘GPI Holding’ presented their employment strategy to the invited CSOs. They provided information on the planned GPI Holding Employment Fair and encouraged CSOs to submit their beneficiaries' contact information so that these people are involved in the recruitment process. GPI Holding is planning to recruit 300 sales assistants around the country. 

In February the CSR Club’s second board meeting was held where members summarized their past activities and discussed future plans and priorities. The Club plans to create a database of activities of member organizations, hold public lectures on CSR, and support media with reporting on CSR issues. The empowerment of women, as well as support to inclusion of people with disabilities, remains the Club’s main priorities. Another major focus will be public awareness-raising about CSR, especially among students.

The CSR Club was founded in May 2015 by EWMI ACCESS partner CSO ‘Civil Development Agency’ (CiDA) and the PR Communications and Marketing Company GEPRA. The Club currently unities 80 businesses, civil society, and educational organizations. Its mission is to promote corporate social responsibility in Georgia and facilitate interaction between businesses and CSOs. ACCESS supports CIDA and CSR Club members in planning and implementing joint (business-CSO) initiatives.

Training in Business and Human Rights

In 2011, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), a framework that assigns responsibility to States and companies for preventing and addressing business-related human rights abuses. Three years later the UNHRC called on all of its Member States to develop National Action Plans to promote the implementation of the UNGPs within their respective national contexts.

In its Human Rights Action Plan (2016-2017), the Government of Georgia has committed to developing a “comprehensive Action Plan on business and Human Rights for 2017-2018”. In order to kick-off the National Action Plan preparation  process, the Human Rights secretariat (under the Prime Minister’s Office) together with CIDA and the Public Defender’s Office has requested the Danish Institute for Human Rights to facilitate a two-day introductory training workshop on business and human rights, with particular focus on the Action Plan development.

20 representatives from the government, CSOs and the Ombudsman’s Office attended the training that was held on February 17-18. The training was held with support from EWMI ACCESS and other donors.

UN Global Compact Network Georgia’s General Meeting

On February 3rd the UN Global Compact Network Georgia’s first general assembly took place. The Network members and several international organizations attended an assembly that was led by the head of the Board, Mr. Valeri Chekeria, and the UN Global Compact Network (UNGC) contact person in Georgia, Ms. Salome Zurabishvili. Ms. Zurabishvili presented the specifics how the Georgian Network functions and updated the members about the new UNGC’s initiatives. The board members (Adjara Group, Georgian-American University, and Microfinance Organization “Crystal”) presented CSR practices of their organizations and their experience of cooperating with the UNGC Georgian Network. Future plans were also discussed.

Last year, EWMI ACCESS grantee, CiDA, became the secretariat of the UNGC in Georgia, while a CiDA representative, Ms. Zurabishvili, became the Network’s primary point of contact. Global Compact is the world’s largest initiative promoting the sustainability of Corporate Social Responsibility and is based on 10 core principles encouraging businesses to observe human rights, labor rights, environmental protection and anti-corruption practices. Over the last year, CiDA, with the support of EWMI ACCESS, has been actively promoting these principles to be adopted by Georgian business companies. As of today, 33 organizations have joined the UNGC Georgian network, pledging to observe the above-mentioned core principles in their policies and practices.

ACCESS is a five-year, $5.5 million USD civil society development initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development and implemented by the East-West Management Institute (EWMI). USAID administers U.S. foreign assistance programs providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide.