Kyiv, 27 May 2019 The pre-election discourse on a sustainable environment and energy sector in Ukraine lags behind global trends in environmental security and climate change, but the green agenda priorities set out in party manifestos ahead of Ukraine’s upcoming parliamentary election show they could still help protect citizens' rights to a clean and safe environment.

That was the overall assessment of the green agendas in the political programmes of parties and candidates in 2019 presidential election given at the “Green Agenda at the 2019 Elections: Mission Possible” discussion held in Kyiv on May 21 by the UN Development Programme in Ukraine and the Society and Environment Resource and Analysis Center, with the financial support of Sweden.

"Some kinds of environmental problems worry practically all inhabitants of Ukraine,” said UNDP Ukraine’s Andriy Zayika, Sustainable Development, Energy and Environment Portfolio Manager.

“Only 1.8% said that they were not concerned about environment-related issues, according to sociological studies conducted by UNDP,” Zayika said. “At the same time, the presence of clear policies on environmental protection and sustainable energy in the programs of political parties or candidates are a decisive factor for almost half of Ukrainians – 46.5% said that this would definitely or rather influence their voting choice.”

“That means the citizens of Ukraine want environmental issues to be addressed. Responses to the global climate challenge, tackling the garbage and industrial pollution problems, and a vision of a transition to a low-carbon and recycling economy should become an integral (policy) priority of political parties and their leaders."

Lawmaker Valeriya Zaruzhko, a member of the “Green Power Shift” Inter-Factional Deputy Association, noted the important role of the Ukrainian Parliament in shaping green policy.

"The Verkhovna Rada should work to prevent environmental problems and take on the best European experience in this area,” Zaruzhko said. “Introducing the European norms and rules stipulated in the Association Agreement with the European Union into national legislation is our action plan to protect citizens’ environmental interests.”

“The green agenda includes priorities that are consistent with the goals of sustainable development, our European aspirations and state long-term priorities, so each party has to have its stance.”

Analysing the election programmes and speeches of presidential candidates in Ukraine, experts from the Society and Environment Resource and Analysis Center recorded growing interest in environmental issues among candidates for the post of head of state. Some 64% of election programmes contain issues on the green agenda, which is 25% more than in the 2014 presidential election.

"We have not sought to see which of the candidates have the ‘greenest’ program and will be more attractive to the voter,” said Natalia Andrusevych, Society and Environment’s board chairperson, presenting the results of the analysis results.

“We aimed at determining the place of green issues in the pre-election discourse,” Andrusevych said. “Our analysis has shown that the priority of green issues in the national political agenda is increasing, which is clearly reflected in the election programmes of presidential candidates.”

“However, the programs do not include the entire range of green issues. They are aimed at overcoming the existing threats rather than presenting a vision of the future green development of the country. The topic of the green agenda in the pre-election discourse, as well as many other relevant areas, is not devoid of populism, and the pre- election green discourse itself lags far behind the current global trends in this field.”

During the event, MPs and representatives of political parties, public environmental organizations, think tanks and the media discussed the role of civil society and the media in creating demand for political parties to include green issues in their manifestos.

In particular, representatives of a coalition of 17 environmental NGOs shared the results of a campaign called "Ecological Agenda for Presidential Candidates."

"We understand that the president's mandate does not foresee an ecological component,” said Iryna Chernysh of the SaveDnipro Initiative Group.

“But it is the president who signs the laws that determine the state's environmental policy for years to come,” Chernysh went on. “Our campaign was a test for the environmental consciousness of the candidates, so we asked them about European integration in the field of environment, protection of natural resources, reform of the permit system, the use of proceeds from environmental taxes, and so on. And 2 of 5 presidential race leaders answered with their position on our agenda. Is this a lot or a little? We don’t undertake to evaluate it. But this is rather better then absence of environmental issues in the candidate’s discourse. We will not stop, and we’re continuing to work together with partners to request that political parties, political experts and opinion leaders provide clear answers to all citizens about how their political choices will affect the state of the environment, their quality of life and well-being.”

The participants in the event also discussed the possibility of introducing a ‘green’ pass mark during the 2019 parliamentary elections, and how this could be done with the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders and opinion leaders. The experience of European countries in promoting the issues of climate change, closed-loop economics, an environmentally conscious lifestyle, and support for low-carbon technologies, where party leaders compete to offer ideas on how to address these specific issues, is very interesting, experts agreed.

They said such approaches could also be used and become widespread in Ukraine. The green agenda priorities presented on March 19, 2019 in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine could also become a unifying factor for civil society, and indicate what ‘green’ questions should be addressed in the political programs of parties and their leaders, the experts said.

"Green Agenda at 2019 Elections: Mission Possible?" was held as part of the “Support to the Parliament of Ukraine on Sustainable Energy and Environmental Protection” project implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in Ukraine with the financial support of Sweden.

Media inquiries: Yuliia Samus, UNDP Communications Manager, yuliia.samus@undp.org

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