Tbilisi is undoubtedly a beautiful city, which is why it has become one of the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations. The city has made remarkable progress in overcoming the problems that blighted Georgia’s economy since independence, but there is still plenty of room for improvement as the city expands to cope with the demands of constantly increasing tourist numbers.
Many of the city’s current problems will be resolved over the next five years through the implementation of the Green City Action Plan (GCAP), which was approved by the municipal authorities on 29 September. The Plan was initiated by the City of Tbilisi together with support from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), with additional financial support coming from the Czech Republic.
The Plan covers a wide range of improvements to Tbilisi’s infrastructure including transport, water and waste management, energy production and efficiency, plus the development of local industry.
One of the main criticisms of Tbilisi is the poor quality of the air in the city. According to research, around 90% of Tbilisi’s air pollution comes from diesel-powered transport, with all of the city’s buses and minibuses running on the fuel. Diesel is also used by many private cars, the majority of which are more than 15 years old. The city has already taken steps to address this issue as a result of acquiring up to 200 new buses that will be fueled by compressed natural gas, which is significantly more environmentally-friendly. The GCAP will extend this initiative to cover the rest of Tbilisi’s bus fleet.
In addition to renewing the buses and minibuses, the GCAP will also upgrade the city’s traffic management system, expand non-motorized transport and optimize the road infrastructure network. As a result of these changes, GCAP forecasts a reduction in CO2 emissions by around 450,000 tonnes per year.
The Plan is also looking to save around 55 million m3 of water per year through its improvements to the water and sewage infrastructure in the city.
In total, the Plan is estimated to cost in the region of €412 million, half of which should be financed by the government of Georgia or private sector companies.
The EBRD has already invested over €2.8 billion into Georgia to date, covering 205 projects. Promoting sustainable and environmentally sound investments is one of the Bank’s top priorities for the country. The GCAP is based upon the EBRD’s Green Cities Programme, which was adopted in 2016, utilizing over twenty years of experience of investing in municipal and environmental infrastructure. Tbilisi is the second city to adopt a GCAP, with the first being Yerevan in Armenia.
In summary, this is great news for all residents and visitors to Tbilisi, ensuring a healthier, better standard of living for all and making the city an even more attractive destination.