2019-12-18 14:30:51

Vladimir Kosterin: the president's environmental policy should be built on the foundation of protecting environmental rights

Today Ukraine is a high-risk country, with one of the lowest life expectancies in Europe, mainly due to the huge number of environmental problems caused by ineffective government and corruption at various levels.

For almost 30 years, billions of hryvnias have been allocated for the functioning of specialized departments and the entire state apparatus, which was supposed to ensure compliance with Articles 16, 50 of the Constitution of Ukraine, guaranteeing the right to a safe environment for life and health, but the situation only worsened every year. Although, for the sake of fairness, I note that measures are being taken locally, there are responsible deputies who promote legislative solutions for the development of green energy and organic production, but in general the situation does not change dramatically.

Time passes, resources are spent, people still get sick and die. And those responsible for the loss of more than 10 years of life by people in Ukraine, primarily due to environmental factors, are not punished. Let me remind you that Ukrainians live on average 66 years, and not so far away from us in ecologically safe and economically developed Sweden – 80 years, in Poland – 74 years.

Today, relying on the support of international partners, Ukraine is already developing and adopting important strategic documents, in particular – the Law on Environmental Impact Assessment (IIA) and the Low-Carbon Development Strategy. But this regulatory framework will not have the desired effect without reformatting state policy on the principle of systemic stimulation of greening in Ukraine. And this requires action at several levels - from reforming the judicial system, revising existing laws, improving institutions for environmental insurance, to launching a full-fledged emissions trading system (climate exchange) and other important measures. These changes can only be implemented with the participation of real environmental organizations that have proven their effectiveness by real deeds.

The International Risk Reduction Foundation, which I head, has been implementing programs for the implementation of environmental solutions and technologies for ten years. The project for the protection of environmental rights, started in 2008 by our team, still on the basis of the Green Party of Ukraine, was successfully continued in 2015. This initiative, among other things, is due to interaction with the PACE Sustainable Development Committee in connection with the development of a pilot project on integrated risk management on the example of Ukraine. As part of this initiative, in 2011, the Verkhovna Rada hosted a forum on public-private partnership for shaping risk management policies, in which Mevlut Cavusoglu, then PACE President, took part.

In 2012, together with Bohdan Gavrilishin, for the first time in Ukraine, we presented the report of the Club of Rome "Blue Economy: 10 Years, 100 Innovations, 100 Million Jobs", in which Club of Rome member Gunther Pauli summarized the experience of entrepreneurs and scientists in launching business projects for solutions to both environmental and social problems.

To stimulate changes in society, the Risk Reduction Fund, together with lawyers and ecologists, has developed expert and legal tools to bring polluters to justice, gained valuable experience in protecting environmental rights, and revealed problematic aspects in the functioning of government bodies - starting with the work of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. , The State Environmental Inspection, the State Food and Consumer Services and ending with other state bodies that need to be reformed.

Since 2015, we have been actively working on judicial and legal work on several objects of different forms of ownership in the Kiev region, in order to reduce pollution and compensate people for the damage they received due to violations of environmental legislation, environmental and sanitary standards by enterprises; in particular, we are talking about the Tripolskaya TPP of PJSC "Centrenergo" in Ukrainka, the solid waste landfill in the Kiev-Svyatoshinsky district, the BRSM oil depot in the Vasilkovsky district and the Agromars company in the Vyshgorodsky district.

The lawsuits were filed on the basis of the collected evidence base and the conducted research, which took us more than a year due to the depth of the study, but we received reliable factual information about the relationship between pollution and the state of human health. In particular, government agencies were involved in the research: “Institute of Hygiene and Medical Ecology named after A.N. Marzeev "National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine, Kiev Independent Institute of Forensic Expertise; experts from the Ukrainian Institute of Green Economy, environmental auditors from EY, as well as Greenpeace specialists were also involved, who provided images from space and their decoding.

During this time, more than a thousand meetings have taken place courts, and in 2017 precedents of positive decisions were obtained (the case of a fire at an oil depot of the Belarusian Republican Youth Union) in favor of each victim for an amount of damage from 80 to 150 thousand UAH, and even 1 million UAH. This approach is practiced both in the EU countries and in the countries of the Anglo-Saxon legal system (Great Britain, USA), and it has shown its effectiveness for the formation of an effective environmental policy.

If an enterprise has caused damage to the environment and people, then it is obliged not only to compensate for the harm to people, but also to invest in the restoration of the ecosystem.

As a result of environmental activism, they have repeatedly tried to put pressure on me and my partners - from ridiculous custom articles in the media to pressure using administrative resources. The arguments of the polluters about expensive technologies, job cuts, paying large environmental taxes and fines do not hold up to scrutiny. Since this is just an attempt to maintain the current state of affairs, and not to seek through modernization and resource efficiency to increase the profitability and investment attractiveness of the enterprise and the region.

As an example, at the initiative of UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Program) in Ukraine in 2018, the introduction of additional financial mechanisms in the form of green bonds and the development of an appropriate regulatory framework began. As you know, the global market for "green" bonds is rapidly developing and provides access to a large pool of investors and investments.

Over the past four years, communities and local authorities have received a positive response and expressed interest in our practice, and businesses have also asked to change their approaches to the distribution of eco-taxes. The fact that only 20% of ecotaxes remain in place, and the rest is eroded in regional rads and the state budget without clear criteria for the effectiveness of the funds used, should long ago become the subject of consideration in parliament with a public discussion about which new tax model should be introduced (I have repeatedly raised the question of the need for an eco-tax labor reform).

Today, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has a positive charge for changing the system. This can be seen from many statements, in particular – from the public discussion of the situation in Krivoy Rog with the participation of enterprises and local communities. But so that good intentions are not used by corrupt officials at various levels for their own purposes, the President needs to build interaction with expert and public groups that have earned respect for many years of activity.

For more than 20 years, environmentalists, public organizations and honest journalists have formed a social request for the greening of the country; in particular, the journalists of the ecological TV channel "Tonis", which belonged to me until 2011. Society has become tense and has long been interested in improving the environmental situation, so the President and his team face a complex multi-level task. I hope that the green color used by the Servant of the People party will be filled with a real ideological meaning that unites Ukraine.

Source: enovosty.com