Georgia is a mountainous country with rich biodiversity and varying climate and precipitation. Almost the entire infrastructure, industrial and agricultural lands are located in the lowlands. About half of the area is farmland, constituting mostly of hay land and pastures due to the mountainous structure. Arable land often requires land reclamation measures. The key environmental problems in Georgia include pollution to air and water, land degradation, forest degradation and loss of biodiversity, affecting the provision of ecosystem services negatively.
Like other republics of the USSR, Georgia suffered severe environmental degradation during the Soviet period, when economic policies emphasizing heavy industry cared little for their environmental consequences. As a legacy of these policies, Georgia now suffers from serious pollution. Air pollution is a problem in the major cities, particularly in Rustavi, which has a giant steel plant and other metal and chemicals production. Traffic is another great contributor to the pollution of an air. In the last years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of cheap, old, dirty diesel vehicles— all while pollution testing is virtually non-existent. Additionally, the public transport system is not sufficiently developed and therefore a significant proportion of the population uses private vehicles as the preferred mode of transport. Furthermore, the Kura River and the Black Sea are heavily polluted with industrial waste.
Georgia is a party of the UNFCCC since 1994.The country fulfils its reporting obligations to the convention by submitting the National Communications on the Climate change. In 1996 Georgia started developing the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) approach to fulfil the Strategic Action Plan for rehabilitation and protection of the Black Sea as part of the Bucharest Convention. In addition the Statistical Yearbook of Georgia includes the following environment and natural resources related sections: forest area and forest stock; reforestation; forest fires; fresh water consumption; waste water discharge into surface water bodies; number of stationary sources of air pollution; emission of pollution into the atmosphere; air pollution by industrial pollution from stationary sources, and natural reserves and national parks.
Georgia has been particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, such as the 2002 earthquake, periodic droughts, the sever flood in 2015 and the Borjomi forest fire in 2017. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and magnitude of natural disasters such as flood and droughts.
Nowadays, environmental policies are receiving increasing attention from Georgian policy and decision makers, who are starting to recognize that sustainable development is about a profound change of policies that drive systemic transformation of production, consumption, and behavioral patterns. The list of the country’s environmental challenges is long. Current policies and instruments lack the rigor to effectively reduce pressures on natural assets and protect public health from poor environmental quality. Georgia does not have a comprehensive assessment of the cost of inaction to environmental degradation linking it to economic growth, poverty, and shared prosperity.
Georgia has also taken up responsibility to work on the clean development mechanism under the Kyoto protocol. Furthermore, Georgia has a yet largely untapped potential for renewable energy, especially in micro hydropower and wind power practices, but also solar, geothermal and biomass sources provide a potential. It further highlights several areas needing attention, such as air and water quality, waste management, land and landscape management, and nature resource use and protection.