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Journal number 4 ∘ Tsotne Iashvili
Key Aspects of Green Economy and Its Development Prospects in Georgia

(This work was supported by Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation (SRNSF) [PHDF-18-1264. Impact of Inequality on Economic Growth. Case of Georgia). 

For the last several decades, the issues of Green Economy have been receiving a lot of attention and more and more countries are trying to make it one of the main strategies for their development. It should be mentioned that, Green Economy does not necessary mean only environmental protection issues or an attempt to do less harm to the environment. The Green Economy is one of the means of economic growth, and it has a great impact on macroeconomic indicators. There are spheres where it is most effective and spheres where it is not advisable to use it. The article will discuss the prospects for Green Economy in Georgia and consider its macroeconomic impacts, outlooks and potential challenges along the way.  

Keywords: Green economy, green growth, macroeconomy, green economy in Georgia.

JEL Codes: O13, Q52, Q56, Q58


Intense discussions on Green Economy has begun in the early 90’s. Since then, more and more countries try to make it a top priority and a goal. Georgia is among the countries which has declared the Green Economy as a key direction of development and reflected it in the relevant documents. Many international organizations and unions are increasingly focusing on the issues of Green Economy and emphasizing its importance. For instance, the European Union.

The Government of Georgia has declared about the priority of Green Economy 1 year ago. (2018) and made an official statement in the “Basic Data and Directions Document for 2019-2022”. [20] In addition, the Association Agreement between the European Union and Georgia obliges the latter to develop environmental issues and to create conditions for the development of Green Economy, which respectively will become one of the key pillars of the country’s sustainable development.

In the framework of this study there will be an attempt to analyze the essence and concept of Green Economy, theoretical, practical and macroeconomic aspects of its formation. Also, identifying the positive and negative aspects of Green Economy formation in Georgia and formulate relevant recommendations. To accomplish the goals set out in the article, the following aspects need to be analyzed:

       • Assessment and analysis of the Green Economy concept;

       • Analysis of theoretical and practical issues of Green Economy formation;

       • To analyze the impact of Green Economy on economic development;

       • Review of macroeconomic aspects of Green Economy;

       • Prospects for Green Economy in Georgia and the main challenges for its formation.

         The Concept and Historical Aspectsof Green Economy

It could be considered that the first indirect thoughts about the concept of Green Economy were as back as the 1970s. The latter was facilitated by the report – Limits to Growth - by famous Club of Roma. [3] Where it was discussed the slowdown of exponential growth, whereas it required huge resources. Club of Roma divided these resources into 2 parts. Physical (food, energy carriers, water and etc.) and Social Needs. In the latter they refer to social stability, education and etc. [3, pp. 43-46.] Since then, high attention has been paid to this issue. “Green Parties” were forming. Talking about the Green Economy as one of the social sciences and, generally, as one of the directions of economics has been going since the 1990s, particularly since 1992, when the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) conference was held. Later on, the concept of Green Economy has further developed and was added the concept of “Green Growth”, which largely describes the concept of itself Green Economy and economic growth based on it. Nowadays, two basic definitions have been formulated that clearly illustrates the concept of Green Economy. The first definition offered by UN Environment Program is as follows: “Green Economy can be defined as an economy that results in improved human well-being and reduced inequalities over the long term, while not exposing future generations to significant environmental risks and ecological scarcities” [14] According to the second definition: “Green Growth means fostering economic growth and development, while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental service on which our well-being relies” [12]

Over time, the focus on Green Economy has increased. In 2009 UN announced Global Green New Deal (GGND). The aim of GGND was to reduce carbon dioxide dependence and ecosystem degradation worldwide. Besides, in 2012, in the frames of Rio+20 the countries agreed to develop concepts of Green Economy. [18]

Despite the fact that attention towards the Green Economy is growing, in terms of scientific literature there are no broad materials yet. For instance, up to 30% of research articles discuss Green Economy from the environmental standpoint.  On the second place there are articles discussing issues of practical implementation of Green Economy. The latter accounts for 20%. Only 15% of articles are devoted the economic aspects of Green Economy as well as economic growth and sustainable development. On the 4th place Green Economy is analyzed from the state and institutional point of view, which represents 12% of the scientific literature on this topic. [5]

On the concept of Green Economy, it should be mentioned that is does not fully mean less harm to the environment or sustainable use of resources. Green Economy is also one of the means of economic growth. But it requires significant initiatives and investments from both government and private sector. It is desirable that the whole burden of Green Economy formation process in not placed on households and customers who purchase, for example, “Green products or services” Green Economy requires the simultaneous involvement of all three economic entities in the process of formation, as a separate public or private sector will not be able to implement it unless the population understands the principles and concept of Green Economy. It should be also noted that the role of international organizations in shaping the Green Economy is significant. Green Economy is the cause of structural changes in the economy. Consequently, it has a significant impact on country’s macroeconomic performance, both in the short and long term.

Theoretical and Practical Aspects of Green Economy Formation

It is important to note, that Green Economy has the key areas and spheres of activities and sectors of economy where it is most effective. According to experts, the following sectors will be identified: [6]

       • Renewable Energy;

  • Green Buildings;

       • Clean Transport;

       • Water Management;

       • Waste Management;

       • Soil Management.

In order for Green Economy to be efficient and reach its objectives, it is important to meet the following principles:

    1. The principle of sustainable development;

    2. The principle of justice;

    3. The principle of dignity;

    4. The principle of security;

    5. The principle of engagement;

    6. Governing principle;

    7. The principle of elasticity;

    8. The principle of efficiency;

    9. The principle for future generations. [24]

It is interesting to discuss one principle here. According to the 3rd principle, Green Economy helps in elimination of poverty, creates positive social effects, creates new jobs and transforms existing ones into Green Jobs.

Speaking about overcoming poverty using Green Economy principles, it is important to point out one circumstance. Generally, poor people live in the disadvantaged and poor environment, because they cannot afford to pay respective price for a better conditions and environment. [11] However, there is another side to the formation of Green Economy – Poor people generally think less about preserving and taking care of environment. Therefore, when there is an opinion that Green Economy has the power to reduce poverty, government involvement in this case is needed to make the transformation process to Green Economy less painful. It should also be noted that as the net income of poor increases, so does their demand. However, whether this will have a positive impact on the environment or whether this process can reduce the environmental damage is not specified. In this respect, there is also an opinion on Kuznets’ reversed U-curve: The damage to the environment initially increases, the lower net income of population is. Then, as the per capita income increases, the damage to the environment is reduced. However, there is a little empirical evidence to support the latter. [11, pp. 498-501]. Also, as mentioned above, income growth is usually reflected in higher demand.  

In general, when it comes to Green Economy and environment, it is also important to consider how the environment and/or environmental damage affects net national income:

NNI= GNI-Dm-Dn,           ( 1 ) 

      Whereas, NNI represents Net National Income;

GNI is Gross National Income;

 Dm is depreciation of derivative capital assets;

 Dn  - is depreciation of environmental capital.

Adding to (1) R and A, where R is environment recovery costs (e.g. in fisheries or forestry and etc.) while, A – costs that are aimed of avoiding environmental damage (e.g. preventive costs). For instance, funds for the prevention of air, water and soil pollution and etc. Then the equation will have the following look:

NNI= GNI-Dm-Dn-R-A       ( 2 )

Green Economy is associated with high expenditures. These expenditures are incurred by both the public and private sector, as well as the population. It is also interesting to note that the economic policy alone cannot guarantee the development of Green Economy. The involvement of population in this process is significant and its role cannot be expressed solely in improving economic performance (e.g. income growth) More efficient engagement of household is needed. A good example of this is waste management/separation, which can be managed most effectively and efficiently with the full involvement of population. In this case any kid of sanctions or fines would be less efficient.

However, worth to mention, that economic theory is well aware of practice of imposing taxes and sanctions on the environment damage, to mitigate its negative externalities. For example, the Pigouvian Taxes. [17] The purpose of this type of taxation is to reduce the impact of externalities, since the economic activity implies that, at least some minor damage environment will have. The second way is to obtain permissions on environment pollution. However, in both cases, the results in economic and environmental terms are almost identical.

There are other approached towards the above-mentioned: Regulation may turn out better solutions that any other direct taxation. In this sense, regulations may, on contrary, facilitate the development of technologies. [10] According to Porter, environmental regulations can lead to both technology encouragement and the development of entrepreneurial innovations. In particular, entrepreneurs may be encouraged to develop and obtain new technologies or to run their business within existing technologies but using innovative methods. The latter not only protects the environment, but also stimulates economic growth and development.  

Macroeconomic Aspects of Green Economy

It is important that, before the country announces Green Economy policy, to analyze its role and impact on the economy. In general, scientists e.g. [8, pp. 6-10] consider that there are several macroeconomic levels that need to be addressed when talking about the Green Economy:

       • The first is to address issues of inter-generational agreement over how the overall well-being will be disturbed or utilized. The impact of decisions made on the well-being of future generations should be considered in the current period;

       • The second is to study and consider the impact that environmental degradation has on aggregate supply, while environmental protection measures-on both aggregate supply and aggregate demand;

       • The third issues concern economic growth, which is also related to Green Growth.

The reason for the economic growth is often and largely due to structural changes in the economy. Therefore, since the Green Economy itself involves a significant change in the structure of the economy, its factors must also be considered. Scholars: [8], [1] believe that the Green Economy should be viewed in the light of structural changes in the economy as the technological revolution or even the industrial revolution.

       • The fourth and final level is how to fund global initiatives.

The formation of Green Economy is linked with investments. Otherwise, those economic spheres that are involved in the formation of Green Economy and do not make appropriate investments, in some cases in technologies, in some cases in human resources, will not be able to keep up with structural changes in the economy and may even stop economic activities.

Investing in the Green Economy (which is unavoidable if the country wants to develop Green Economy) in the first few years leads to decreasing the potential economic growth. However, in the long run it has a positive effect, for instance, on employment and also reduces environmental risks. Therefore, has a positive effect on reducing the costs connected with elimination of those risks.

Therefore, it is very important for the countries such as Georgia to consider the impact of above-mentioned factors. A good example of this might be the Georgian Government’s decision that the Administrative Code of Georgia has banned to manufacture, sale and import of plastic and non-biodegradable bags since the April 11 of 2019. Appropriate fines were imposed. [22] As the result, 50 plastic and non-biodegradable bag factories were closed forever, or temporarily unless the technological rearmament takes place. Consequently, the employed labor force remained unemployed. [16]

Current situation on the market is as follows: Despite the fact that the ban has been in place since April 11, 2019, plastic and non-biodegradable bags are still being sold on the market. New biodegradable bags have not been yet fully introduced into the Georgian market. Thus, in the process of Green Economy formation, the legislative framework and the administrative tools for its enforcement are very important. Which should ensure the introduction of basic regulations and the enforcement of relevant laws, in case of non-compliance. In this case, so far, it seems that this law is no being implemented efficiently, which can be considered as a significant weakness of the transformation to Green Economy. Consequently, in Georgia, we have concluded that a number of factories have been stopped and number of unemployed persons has increased. When it comes to product prices. New biodegradable bags will be 1.5-2 times more expensive that existing ones. Factories that want to stay on the market will have to rearmament and to invest in technologies. 

Consequently, it is important to focus on the impact that the process of Green Economy formation has on employment.

       Green Economy can create new jobs – Green Jobs – in sector of the economy such as:

       • Renewable Energy;

       • Construction;

       • Transport;

       • Agriculture.

However, there is, of course, a second opinion that the Green Economy will lead to the abolition of existing jobs and if there are no respective investments then it will lead to structural unemployment. As the Green Economy requires more efficient and up-to-date technologies and does not imply only rational use of resources, modern technologies without the respective knowledge and education will lead to job losses or it will be occupied by more highly skilled workforce that may come from abroad due to technology transformation and diffusion. During the formation of Green Economy, in ceteris paribus, marginal cost for companies’ increases, as well as decreases sales, which in turn results in a lower number of employees. [2] But it should be mentioned that, even within the Green Economy framework there are still place for jobs such as, for example, marketing managers, sales managers, human resources specialist and etc.

It should be noted that the Green Economy will create new jobs in sectors of economy such as:

  • Electric Vehicle Manufacturing – Software Engineers, Electrical Engineers, etc.;
  • Wind and Solar energy sector – Environmental Engineers, Industrial Product Managers, etc.

That is why it is important to invest not only in technologies but also in education in order to train relevant workers and specialists.

The table below [13] shows possible effects of Green Economy on employment, both positive and negative ones, also duration of works, its stability, sustainability and etc.

The Impact of Green Economy on Employment

Table N 1

As the Table shows, Green Economy can really create new jobs as well as maintain existing ones. However, the latter needs extra efforts in the short-run. In particular, this involves investments. Also, important is the fact that companies will have to consider both increased competition and strict regulations. However, it is important to consider the role of the government. The government should have clearly defined position towards this issue. It should facilitate the transformation process on Green Economy. The latter may be expressed in both the introduction of benefits and the development of special programs.

Green Economy Formation and Key Challenges in Georgia

Green Economy in Georgia has no long history. About the direction of Green Economy and its formation was announced just over a year ago. However, Green Economy has become one of the top priorities for the country’s development and has also incorporated into the country’s “Basic Data and Directions Document for 2019-2022”. According to BDD, one of the priorities for the country has become not only Green Economy, but also Green Growth. [20] The Government of Georgia aims to promote the development of Green Economy and encourage Green Growth. The document also says that Green Economy helps reduce business costs over long term. But, it is not mentioned about the costs involved in transforming to Green Economy in short-term. However, should be noted that the document also states that the government will support and encourage specific initiatives. For example, the production of eco food.   

In General, it should be emphasized that Green Economy cannot create new vast number of jobs in agriculture. But it can help maintaining long-term jobs.

The document also mentions the Ecotourism and Renewable Energy. Also, introduction of resource saving technologies, etc. One of the tools mentioned to facilitates all the above-mentioned is – Start-Ups. Its establishment and popularization.  

In addition, the creation of conductive conditions to Green Economy in Georgia is provided by number of documents. For instance, Social-Economic Development Strategy of Georgia: “Georgia 2020”. [19] Besides, Article N 301 Of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Georgia.

The United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) and other international institutions have studied those sectors of economy that have greatest potential to become part of Green Economy and create stable Green Jobs. [15]

Sectors with Green Jobs Potential

Table N 2

It should be noted that, sub-sectors in some above-mentioned sectors do not have a potential to create Green Jobs or engage in the Green Economy at all. For instance, such as the cement manufacturing in industry sector. Also, the chances of aviation in transport to fall within the Green Economy are low in the nearest future. 

To assess Green Economy in the country one can use the Global Green Economy Index (GGEI). GGEI evaluates existing and potential Green Economy in several countries. The index measures the efficiency of Green Economy in 130 countries. Both quantitative and qualitative indicators are used to calculate it. [9]

The index is significant not only for assessing country’s Green Economy performance or potential but, also for attracting investors.

Calculation of the index has begun in 2010 and since 2018 there has been a record for Georgia as well. According to index, out of 130 countries Georgia is ranked 45th and account for 0.5183. Which is an average. The top three countries are Sweden, Switzerland and Iceland with 0.7608, 0.7594 and 0.7129 respectively. The last place is taken by Bahrain (0.3304).

According to the index, Georgia ranks 23rd out of 40 countries in Europe. While Georgia is the best performer among the Eastern European Partnership countries.

Global Green Economy Index in EaP

Diagram N 1 


 Source: by Author based on GGEI data. [9]

As mentioned above, there are sectors of economy where the outlook of Green Economy is quite high. Therefore, it is important that in the country where Green Economy is set up, consider sectors where the latter is particularly well-functioning and these sectors play a decent role in the country’s economy and employment.

For these purposes, it will be interesting to review Georgia’s gross output picture in terms of Green Economy perspective. Gross output of Georgia’s economy as of 2018 in percentages is as follows: [23]

Georgia’s Total Output Structure as of 2018, %

Diagram N 2

 Analyzing Georgia’s gross output by sectors and considering other factors, it would be optimal to start to implement Green Economy from the agricultural sector, as its share in the economy is currently quite low, while in terms of employment (self-employment) is one of the biggest. Also, agribusiness output has been declining since 2014 (see diagram N 3)

Share Agribusiness Gross Output in Country’s Gross output, %

Diagram N 3

Source: Geostat.ge [23]

If the agricultural sector starts to form a Green Economy, then country will not only achieve sustainable development in agriculture and agribusiness but also create long-term Green Jobs in this sector. In addition, the formation of Green Economy in agriculture will also promote the growth of ecotourism and agritourism. Given the fact that tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in Georgia and also one of the key priorities. Thus, implementation of Green Economy principles in the agricultural sector will be the most efficient and also the fastest. It will have less negative social impact.

As for the other sectors, implementation of Green Economy principles in construction sector is not advisable at the given stage. As construction it is a very dynamic sector that is developing rapidly. However, this sector also faces challenges. In particular, new economic policies and regulations against the excessive debt have made it increasingly difficult to obtain various types of loans, including mortgages. Consequently, there are quite a number of new regulations in this sector and implementation of Green Economy policies in the construction sector, will inevitably lead to increased business costs in the short-run. In turn it will lead in a rise of their product or service price. All of this will not have a positive impact on the development of this sector. As for the industry, which is ranked number one in Georgia’s gross output, it is likely to be very painful to apply the principle of Green Economy. Not only economically but socially wise as well. Even the developed countries, despite the considerable efforts, still fail to achieve great success in implementing Green Economy regulations.[1] It is therefore, important that the transition to Green Economy begins from the agricultural sector in Georgia.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Green Economy is not only about sustainable and rational use of resources; it is much more than environment protection. Green Economy is complex and related to the macroeconomic aspects of economy, such as, for instance, employment. Green Economy is a complex phenomenon and is linked to the structural changes in economy.

       It is important to consider the following recommendations when implementing Green economy in Georgia:

      • Establishment of broad legislative framework that will have efficient administrative enforcement tools;

       • When forming Green Economy, the economic sector should be selected on the basis of number of principles: For example, sector’s employment opportunities within Green Economy, potential to participate in Green Economy, as well as, costs and impact on both short and long-term macroeconomic indicators; 

       • In the process of transition to Green Economy, it is important to consider the fact that government, private sector and households must act together in its formation;

       • The government should bear in mind that Green Economy requires a large amount of investments and often this process will be long-term. Therefore, it must consider the short-term social and economic effects that accompany the transformation process;

       • It is desirable if the government is involved in the process of improving the GGEI. Also, improving other related indexes;

       • The government should do its utmost to facilitate the distribution and maximum availability of investments flow related technologies;

       • Dissemination of technology-related knowledge and training of relevant personnel is required. 

Given the above considerations in relation to those sectors of the economy that have the highest potential of Green Economy, then it can be said that Georgia, generally, has a good potential to make Green Economy one of the key areas of development. This is evidenced even by the index of GGEI. Calculating the index for Georgia started in 2018 and in the first year Georgia took a decent place. One of the main reasons for this probably is the great potential country’s environment has to offer to Green Economy, in general.

It is important that the country views the transformation strategy and goal of Green Economy as a primarily economic event. Any decision in the process must be taken in accordance with this principle. If the country deliberately and step by step makes complex changes in this direction, then Green Economy can indeed become the cornerstone of sustainable development. 


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[1] E.g. Germany has postponed its decision to reduce Greenhouse gas emission since it is not expected to be implemented by 2020. Source: www.commersant.ge