Environmental Challenges in Poti Region: What do we have to change?

Ecology is a more and more pressing topic which is related to many problems everywhere throughout Georgia. But especially in the city of Poti, which on the one hand is one of the most important ports in the whole Black Sea Region and on the other hand is immediately situated nearby the Kolkheti National Park which covers an area of 28 940 ha of land, the question of how to combine economic development and ecological sustainability is especially important.

Against this background, the Heinrich Boell Foundation organized a regional debate on the topic of “Environmental Challenges in Poti Region: What do we have to change?” on the May 15th 2010 in Poti.

As usually common for the format of the regional debates, there were experts invited to give grounded input. This time Ketevan Tskhakaia and Elene Gamkrelidze, both Professors at the Kutaisi State University and members of the Environmental NGO “Spektri” introduced themselves and their current work to the interested audience. Teimuraz Dundua, assistant to the Mayor of Poti in environmental concerns, reported on the environmental related work the city has been done and stated the main challenges they were facing in their work. The debate was moderated by local journalist Lasha Zarginava.

Especially thrilling and emotionally debated were the topics of the waste management, which is not only difficult because of the rising amount of consumer’s waste, but also hazardous waste like medical and electronical waste. Another difficult but pressing problem is that of ballast water dumping in Poti Harbour, which presents an immediate threat to the environment in as well as around the harbour. Related to this, the discussion on costal preservation in the light of the growing need for construction materials, which is situated and mined on the coastal line showed, that there is a discrepancy between economical and ecological demands. Although the problem has been existing throughout the last approximately 50 years, the growing ecological awareness, especially of newly build NGOs, gets the topic now on the agenda. These new NGOs are eager to raise the local awareness for ecological questions and do grass root work on protecting the environment in and around Poti. The pollution of the nearby PaleastomiLake is a topic of their work as well as working in cooperation with schools to raise the ecological awareness among children.