The status of Ukraine’s candidate for membership in the European Union, Europe’s involvement in the “green” reconstruction of Ukraine, the established system of accounting for Russia’s crimes against the environment, and the resumption of environmental impact assessment – are key needs of our country.
Ecoclub’s representatives discussed support for Ukraine in these areas with Minister for Climate and the Environment of Sweden Anika Strandhall at the Stockholm + 50 conference.
“The worst thing for the environment is war. We must join forces to document crimes against the environment and bring criminals to justice,” she said.
At a time when the European Parliament is considering shortening the timeframe for processing Ukraine’s application for EU membership, this could significantly weaken Ukraine’s position, as the strategic environmental assessment procedure is a requirement of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.
“It is interesting and important to talk about the consequences of the war in terms of environmental protection. This is something we have discussed a lot in the Swedish government. We are also trying to take the initiative in this area to support Ukraine,” said Annika Strandhäll, Minister for Climate and the Environment of Sweden.
The principles of European environmental and climate policies in all areas must be taken into account during rapid recovery measures and the planning of new capital construction. The EU should set an example for Ukraine in the implementation of environmental reforms during the post-war reconstruction and assist in every possible way.
“Before the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine, the “economy first” approach was almost key among politicians. We are very concerned that this may affect the country’s reconstruction plans. As a result, not only the war will harm the environment, but also rapid reconstruction.
The country’s economic recovery is important, but we must pay attention not only to the economy but also to the environment. We hope that the Swedish government will support Ukraine during the “green” reconstruction,” said Natalia Kholodova, Ecoclub’s campaigner.
Another priority that was highlighted during the meeting was the creation of a single structure that will collect and evaluate crimes against the environment. Currently, the documentation of crimes is carried out by the Ministry of Environmental Protection of Ukraine and several environmental NGOs, but there is still no single structure for assessing damages for further recovery of reparations.
“Our country is experiencing a catastrophe caused by Russia`s attack. Now Ukrainians need a goal that will unite them and serve as a guide to building a decent state. Preserved nature and a clean environment should be the key components. That is why we need the status of a candidate for EU membership. Without it, it will not be easy to ensure progress in environmental protection and to include environmental aspects in the rebuilding process, ” said Natalia Kholodova.
During the full-scale war and the post-war reconstruction period in Ukraine, the environmental impact assessment system, that was carried out before the construction of potentially environmentally hazardous facilities, was canceled. The weak institutional capacity of state environmental bodies and the approach of “economy first” leads to the unscrupulous investors` arrival in our country.
Also recently, deputies of the Verkhovna Rada adopted a bill, that cancels the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in rebuilding programs (in particular, rebuilding programs in regions and communities).