The EAP Task Force (Task Force for the Implementation of the Environmental Action Programme for Central and Eastern Europe) was established in 1993, following a request to OECD from the Lucerne “Environment for Europe” Ministerial Conference. The mission of the EAP Task Force is to “guide improvement of environmental policies in transition economies of Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia (EECCA) by promoting the integration of environmental considerations into the processes of economic, social and political reform”. More specifically, the EAP Task Force:
The work of the EAP Task Force has evolved considerably since its establishment in response to new needs and a changing geo-political landscape. The very first cycles of work focused on facilitating environmental policy design. Since the late 1990s, an increasing emphasis has been put on policy implementation in the context of EECCA countries.
Work on water supply and sanitation was launched during a joint meeting of environment, finance and economy ministers in Almaty in 2000, and has been steadily growing in importance.
Since the 2007 Belgrade Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference, the Task Force’s work has been organised around two major areas: financing water supply and sanitation, and environmental policy implementation. Within these areas, work is conducted on policy instruments for greener economies, natural resources management, including water, and public and private finance for environmental and climate change programmes. This complements the previous work on a range of policy instruments, such as indicators and valuation, cleaner production and integrated pollution prevention and control, environmental compliance assurance, public environmental expenditure and environmental finance more generally.
In addition, the OECD helps EECCA countries to address cross-cutting issues such as progress assessment, environmental governance and capacity development.
The issue of water supply and sanitation came much more to the fore, reflecting the urgency of avoiding a collapse of the water sector in the region. Simultaneously, the cross-cutting activities placed the accent on policy implementation, and regulatory compliance and enforcement, as compared to previous work in support to the development of National Environmental Action Plans.
Thus, the historic and current thematic coverage has been quite diverse, including:
The shift of EAP Task Force work to the EECCA region required new working methods to be developed. Whereas policy analysis and dialogue – the traditional working methods of OECD – were appropriate for central European countries, the needs of EECCA countries required more direct engagement. Accordingly, the EAP Task Force implemented its work increasingly through demonstration projects that were designed to either develop or test tools that could support policy and institutional reform. The new approach helped secure important outcomes on the ground. More attention has also been given to capacity development, including through training. Implementing such activities has required closer cooperation with aid agencies, as well as environment ministries, in OECD countries. Due to a programme-based approach, applied over a long-term, the EAP Task Force has ensured country ownership and a high level of continuity.
The location of the EAP Task Force secretariat at the OECD has enabled the Task Force members to draw upon the policy analysis and recommendations prepared within OECD directorates and committees dealing not only with environmental matters but also financial and enterprise affairs, public management, economics, regulatory reform and others.
The members of the Task Force comprise the governments of Western, Central and Eastern Europe, North America, the Caucasus and Central Asia. International organisations and financial institutions, business and civil society representatives actively participate in the work of the Task Force.
The EAP Task Force meets once a year. Between the annual meetings a Bureau of the EAP Task Force provides guidance for the Secretariat on the implementation of the work programme. The EAP Task Force is co-chaired by Georgia and Germany.
Two expert networks support the Task Force work:
REPIN includes a former Finance Experts Network. These networks provide a mechanism for sharing information, disseminating good practices and agreeing on policy recommendations – among EECCA countries and between EECCA and OECD countries. The work through networks also provides an important means of enhancing the knowledge and skills of participants from EECCA countries. It also helps to promote ownership of the work by EECCA countries and to ensure that it responds to their needs.
Its major donors are: the European Commission, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. Other donors include Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, and the United Kingdom.