Kyiv, 19 December 2018 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ukraine and the Government of Sweden presented a new joint biennial project “Support to the Parliament of Ukraine on Sustainable Energy and Environment”, with funding of US$ 556,000, and launched the formulation of a “green” agenda – policy priorities for environmental protection and sustainable energy in Ukraine – involving representatives of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, governmental institutions, diplomatic missions, the business community, scientists, and experts from non-governmental organizations.
According to a sociological survey conducted by UNDP in cooperation with the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in November and December 2018, the top five ecological problems of the greatest concern to Ukrainians include: contamination of water bodies and substandard quality drinking water (59.9 per cent); deforestation (59.1 per cent); air pollution (51.6 per cent); and environmental pollution by domestic waste (47.8 per cent) and industrial waste (34.2 per cent). Furthermore, every third respondent complained of soil degradation and yield loss, while every fifth complained of climate change and atypical weather conditions or phenomena (floods, storms, and other natural cataclysms). In the opinion of 82.7 per cent of Ukrainians, the authorities do not do enough to address the current problems in this domain. This sends a clear message to lawmakers and political leaders that demand for including a “green” policy in the country’s agenda has already been emerging actively in society. Additionally, almost half of Ukrainians (45.6 per cent) believe that a clear stance on environmental protection and sustainable energy in the programmes of political parties and candidates could become a deciding factor for them in the voting.
“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a foundation for achieving a better and more sustainable future. They aim at addressing global societal challenges, particularly environmental ones, related to climate change, environmental degradation, and deterioration of people’s living conditions. The new UNDP/Sweden project will work to build the capacity of the Parliament of Ukraine as one of the key partners in achieving the SDG-related national targets. First, to achieve many targets legislation will need to be changed. Second, Members of Parliament understand better than anyone else the political and social context they are working in, and are in the best position to find out what they can and should do to enable the Parliament to make a significant contribution to SDG implementation. Besides, Members of Parliament have a unique opportunity to function as a connective link between people and authorities, to adopt and promote human-centred laws and policies, and to ensure implementation of the “leave no-one behind” principle”, said Blerta Cela, UNDP Deputy Country Director for Ukraine.
“The project team will cooperate closely with the parliamentary committees and the inter-faction ‘Green Power Shift’ association of Parliament members, which should become a key forum for promoting the institutionalization of necessary systems and make the Parliament an active participant in achieving the SDGs in the sustainable energy and environment area”.
The Parliament’s leading role in handling environmental matters is also confirmed by sociological survey results: every fourth Ukrainian believes that parliamentarians have the greatest impact in this field. The Government occupies the second position, in the respondents’ opinion, with local authorities being third.
“These issues are highly important in Sweden and there is a general consensus in the country about prioritization of environmental issues and a “green” agenda in the society. Environmental protection, higher energy efficiency, climate change mitigation and adaptation have a direct impact on economic development, increase in the number of “green” jobs, and improvement of the investment climate in the country. We are happy to share best practices and experience in fields like energy efficiency, reduction of industrial pollution, waste and natural resources management. This happens due to a number of ongoing reform support projects, but we also see a growing interest from Ukrainian business, and this is an essential element of success. Environmental challenges know no borders, and that is why we are happy to support this initiative, which promotes both a stronger institutional basis and the Ukrainian parliament’s better work in this area, while advancing integration with the EU in accordance with the Association Agreement”, said Martin Hagström, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Sweden to Ukraine.
During the last fifteen years, the number of groups of like-minded parliamentarians representing various factions, as well as groups established by political parties, has substantially increased. Such inter-party groups enable parliament members with common interests to discuss the promotion of the laws and policies reflecting those interests, and allow them to overcome inter-party barriers and foster dialogue between members of various factions that can subsequently be used to reach consensus and encourage their common ideas within various party groups and within the entire parliament. The Green Power Shift inter-faction association was created to update a political discourse on the “green” agenda and to support “green” legislative initiatives and draft laws.
“The ‘green’ agenda is what is sorely lacking for ensuring Ukraine’s sustainable development. Most legislative initiatives are not coordinated with each other: on the one hand, we declare for renewable energy while on the other, we suggest burning waste at a ‘green’ tariff rate. Comprehensive analysis of initiatives expected to have environmental impacts would ensure that ‘green’ matters are addressed in Parliament and harmonize the draft laws adopted with each other”, said Ostap Ednak, MP, Co-Chair of Green Power Shift.
“I believe that we as parliamentarians and representatives of the public must monitor Ukraine’s compliance with its commitments for the reduction of emissions under the Paris Agreement, insist on a decrease in energy intensity, and facilitate favourable conditions for development of renewable energy sources. Such actions would allow Ukraine to make itself environmentally safe for its people’s life and health”.
“’Green’ issues must take their rightful place in political debates for 2019. People want to know how political parties and their leaders suggest we address the development of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, electrical transport, organic agriculture, circular economy, environmental protection, counteracting climate change, and many other important issues for the country”, emphasized Oleksii Riabchyn MP, Co-Chair of the Green Power Shift.
The event included a discussion among representatives of the Parliament, governmental institutions, non-governmental and expert organizations, and business associations about the key initiatives that correspond to Ukraine’s paramount international commitments that must be prioritized on the “green” agenda. Participants agreed that the agenda should be founded on the Sustainable Development Goals, with an expert analytical team involving stakeholders working around a number of topics. These include low-carbon development, climate change control and adaptation, reducing industrial pollution, improving energy efficiency and developing renewable energy sources, waste management, sustainable forestry management and sustainable agriculture, water resource management, and mitigation of the environmental consequences of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the United Nations' global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP is on the ground in more than 170 countries, helping them find their own ways of addressing global and national problems in human development. www.ua.undp.org
The UNDP Project “Support to the Parliament of Ukraine on Sustainable Energy and Environment” aims to provide members of parliament and relevant parliamentary committees with quality analytical support on better legislation making, organizing consultations and round tables for partners, developing communication products, and engaging various stakeholders in discussions on energy and environmental protection matters. The Project is being implemented with financial support from Sweden. For more information about the Project, see https://bit.ly/2Pz09YZ
Sweden is one of the few countries allocating 1 per cent of its national income to development cooperation and humanitarian assistance across the globe. In 2014, Sweden launched its regional cooperation strategy with Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans and Turkey, with Ukraine its largest recipient. The strategy is aimed at implementing reforms in three key areas: enhancing economic integration with the European Union and developing a market economy; stronger democracy and respect for human rights and a more developed state under the rule of law; and improving environmental conditions, mitigating climate change and its adverse environmental impact and strengthening resilience thereto. Sweden is a long-standing partner of Ukraine. Since 1995, it has invested considerable political, financial and human resources in the country. In 2014-2020, reform-related cooperation with Ukraine will amount to about €175 million, making Sweden the seventh largest donor in the country in terms of scale.
Green Power Shift IFA is an inter-faction association of 22 members of parliament from various political forces and unaffiliated MPs. It is aiming to renew political discourse on the “green” agenda and to support “green” legislative initiatives and draft laws.
Andrii Zaika, UNDP Programme Coordinator, Sustainable Development, Environment and Energy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yuliia Samus, UNDP Communications Team Leader, email@example.com