A recent survey found that few Slovenians were familiar with the Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) – even those affected by it, such as the employees of companies and organisations whose activities have an environmental impact, those responsible for preparing an environmental risk assessments and legal experts dealing with environmental issues. The survey also revealed a certain amount of confusion regarding environmental liability, as well as a lack of tools to help companies and organisations subject to the ELD understand environmental liability and act appropriately. As a result of these shortcomings, the ELD is currently poorly implemented in Slovenia. It is often unclear who is liable for potential environmental impacts, who is responsible for damage control and prevention, and to what extent measures are compulsory.
The ECOLEX LIFE project aimed to inform and engage key audiences and stakeholders in Slovenia on the ELD, including the presentation of practical implications, in order to improve its implementation. It also aimed to encourage prevention and remediation of any potential environmental impact or eventual damage. The project set the goal of raising the awareness of target audiences on the ELD by 20% as well as increasing administrative capacity and boosting support for environmental liability implementation instruments.
Specifically, the ECOLEX LIFE project aimed to:
- Improve the expertise and knowledge of stakeholders to enable them to bring about a change in behaviour and awareness;
- Promote the development of databases for the collection of data on the actual status of ELD implementation by individual environmental sectors (water/wastewater, solid waste management, air quality, energy generation, transport etc.);
- Provide resources for carrying out assessments and developing tools to support the notification of environmental damage;
- Provide technical guidance to help local authorities determine significant environmental damage; and
- Serve as an example of how to develop an insurance policy for operators.
The ECOLEX LIFE project achieved its main objective of raising awareness on ELD and providing key tools for interested stakeholders. Its key output, the EcoLex System, is online and fully operational. The system contains a comprehensive resource of all environmental legislation, an environmental guide with all necessary information regarding the ELD and related issues, a risk assessment tool and a news section ECO-Clipping.
The project prepared a comprehensive ‘List of identified shortcomings in Slovenian legislation with regard to the environmental liability’ and a proposal for amending the Environmental Protection Act. The team also developed a risk assessment tool - available free of charge – as well as a sample of insurance policy, which was presented to three insurance companies. Furthermore, the project carried out 24 workshops and 31 webinars, along with a three-day training workshop.
More than 1 600 stakeholders have already registered to the EcoLex System, including over 100 NGOs, 850 companies and 260 public bodies. The ECO-Clipping weekly newsletter has more than 1 400 subscribers. The system will remain an online subscription service, ensuring the sustainability of main project results.
The Croatian Ministry of the Environment and Energy has showed interest in the project from the very beginning, as the issues in Croatia are similar as are in Slovenia.
The number of ELD cases registered in 2019 was 13, an improvement from only one registered in 2017. It is not possible to accurately determine the extent to which the project is responsible for this increase, but it should be noted that it is the only such initiative in Slovenia reaching all key stakeholders.
The EcoLex System, developed within the project, will be commercialised after the project end. In case of successful initial commercialisation, the system will be scaled-up to cover all environmentally relevant legislation, not only specific to the ELD. The software, developed for the EcoLex system, can in fact be relatively easily adapted to cover any legislation.
Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).