We found that issue of burning agricultural waste can largely be attributed to improper and/or a lack in waste management, and the failure to enforce laws. As a result, burning crop residue becomes the easiest and cheapest option to guarantee the rapid completion of the harvest campaign, and the preparation of the land for the next growing season.
But how can we “solve” this case? We cannot just turn our backs to this problem as it impacts our lives.
UNDP Ukraine’s Accelerator Lab works in stages, starting with the exploration of a problem, then mapping existing solutions, followed by running experiments to test solutions.
So having explored the problem, we went on to map existing solutions. Luckily, there are plenty of ideas for remedying these issues, for instance:
1. Increasing the use of satellite monitoring technologies;
2. Raising awareness of sustainable agriculture, such as low/no till farming;
3. Utilizing crop residue for bio-energy, and;
4. Recycling biomass to create animal feed, household products, and so on.
Interventions to limit the severity of the burning of leaves, crops, and peatlands can be made at the local policy level. However, there is potential to elevate these issues to the national scale. While cultural norms surrounding the burning of organic household waste can be solved by local/micro interventions, the issue of crop residue burning and peatland fires requires interventions in land, water, and waste management at the central policy level.
Having mapped out potential solutions, the next stage is to experiment with various formulas of stakeholder collaboration. In the coming months, UNDP Accelerator Lab in Ukraine plans to partner with local and international stakeholders to design and organize experiments in various communities in Ukraine to tackle the practice of burning grass and organic household waste.
We will try to discover which combination of the following restrictions and incentives work the best:
1. Promoting non-burning culture among young people, seeing them as the agents of change in household behaviour;
2. Creating engaging communication campaigns that will lead to peer pressure being applied to those who continue burning practices;
3. Increasing fines and reinforcing the capabilities of local authorities to respond to burning cases;
4. Promoting and facilitating alternative uses of organic waste, such as composting, a cattle food source, construction materials or biofuel;
Or perhaps you have some even better ideas? If you have any insights on this topic or simply would like to participate in the design or the implementation stages of our experiments, please contact the UNDP Ukraine Accelerator Lab at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working to improve air quality in Ukraine not only provides benefits to the citizens of Ukraine, it also contributes to global progress in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 11, target 11.6 of which states: “By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.”
The next burning season starts in early spring, and we plan to be prepared. For autumn 2020, results from the spring experiments will be examined, and the best solutions could then be scaled up to work at the national level. The knowledge gained from Ukraine’s experience could even be shared with other countries facing similar environmental issues.
In the end, we hope to have the case of the Foul Fog solved forever!