Ukraine on the Way to Sustainable Development: Integration of Rio Conventions Provisions into Ukraine’s National Policy Framework

03 Jul 2014

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How crucial is the need to take care of the environment? How long will the humans keep on consuming the gifts of nature – its resources, such as water, air, lands, forests – without proper control and limitations? How soon will come the time when we realize that we must be less prodigal and careless when using the natural resources - returning waste and causing ecosystem destruction instead? This issue is directly linked to the well-being of humans.

Most of the developed countries have already adopted their Sustainable Development Strategies (SDS). Their basic paradigm lies in the balanced regulation of the state’s economic and social policies, with a specific attention to protection of environment. The state of the environment is depending directly on the economic activity of the population inhabiting the nearby area.

Having signed the Association Agreement with the EU, Ukraine has the utter pledge to adjust existing policies and regulations to the requirements of the EU. A new UNDP/GEF project launched in Ukraine in April this year, has the final objective to produce a framework for sustainable development and a roadmap to it, in consultation with the leading experts, governmental staff from the key ministries, academia and civil society. The project’s primarily task is stated in the name of the project - Integration of Rio Conventions Provisions into Ukraine’s National Policy Framework.      

Three United Nations Conventions (on climate change, biological diversity, desertification) were adopted in response to a number of global environmental threats. They are referred to as the ‘Rio Conventions’. They serve as a roadmap to lead the countries along the sustainable development path. Ukraine ratified all three conventions.

On July 3 a national Conference gathered more than 150 experts working in various fields (ecology and natural resources management, national economy, social security, transport and infrastructure, agriculture, energy and education) to initiate discussions on the elaboration of the SDS. This topic was interrelated with the current environmental challenges of Ukraine and how sectoral policies are set up to respond to them.  

Inita Paulovica, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, when opening the Conference, emphasized that walking down the path of sustainable development requires a comprehensive approach, inter-ministerial and local-national level cooperation. “While this is extremely important, more than political will is needed. Governments alone cannot drive a transformation. Partnerships among people, community groups, organizations, business and academia are needed,” said Ms. Paulovica.

UNDP experts presented the preliminary results of the analysis of sectoral policies with regard to the integration of the principles of the Rio Conventions and outlined the most explicit gaps. Their final reports and overview will be presented for the review to the relevant ministries and state agencies and the leading experts in each corresponding field, with a number of consultative stakeholders meetings to follow. It is expected that as a result the experts will produce recommendations and proposed amendments to the current legislative acts and sectoral policies to better align them with the requirements of the Rio Conventions. The preliminary analysis shows that there is much to be done, but with the support from the key national agencies – Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, State Environment Investment Agency, fueled by the vibrant civil society and based on the approval and scientific substantiation from the academic institutions, positive impacts should be gained.

Jean-Francois Moret, Sector Manager. Energy, Environment, Green Economy, Civil Protection, of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, shared with the Conference participants a horizontal understanding of sustainable development, developed and applied in the European Union. He also noted that “What we should aim at is actually a change of individual mentalities, so that the society as a whole can evolve towards more sustainable development…”