Roundtable “Good Environmental Governance Goals and Objectives in the context of the Luxembourg Declaration Implementation” was held in Kyiv, Ukraine
On October 18, 2017, in order to mark the first anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Ministers of the EU Member States and Eastern Partnership Countries on Cooperation on Environment and Climate Change, UNENGO MAMA-86 in partnership with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources held a round table “Good Environmental Governance Goals and Objectives in the context of the Luxembourg Declaration Implementation”, with the support of the Project “Advancing Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine for the European Environmental Governance Reforms” funded under the EaP CSF Re-granting Scheme.
The participants agreed that, good environmental governance means the overall management concept, which includes strengthened institutions, enhanced policy and more active involvement of citizens (and various stakeholders) aimed to increase the effectiveness of environmental measures and the use of natural resources. The governance also refers to rules, processes and behavior that affect the exercise of authority, primarily with regard to transparency, participation, accountability, efficiency and cohirence.
The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine was the first among the related ministries of the Eastern Partnership to present its vision of the goals and objectives of the reforms aimed to improve the good environmental governance in the form of a Road Map for the implementation of the provisions of the Luxembourg Declaration. Introducing this document, the Deputy Minister Mykola Kuzio said that there are no ready-made models (in particular, institutions) existed that are suitable for any country, but there are universal principles, benchmarks and examples that help to establish an effective system of environmental governance for Ukraine, and there is a long way to go in order to gradually master these complicated tools. The particular difficulty is the transition from hierarchical, state-centralized post-Soviet institutions to horizontal, multi-stakeholder partnerships. This is especially important for the environmental efficiency, since according to the European approaches the environmental policy should be cross-cutting and deeply integrated into sectoral policies and governance at both the national and local levels. From this point of view, the non-traditional, “soft” tools, which, unlike the laws, provide flexible opportunities to achieve the goals, play an important role. For example, this Road Map is a “living” document that reflects the approved medium-term goals and objectives consistent with the provisions of the Declaration and the 20 achievements of the Eastern Partnership in 2017 and 2020, as well as objectives of the ongoing policy. The rest is under development, and may also be added later. Regarding the current policy, one of the most important priorities is the establishment of an information and analytical system for the preparation of evidence-based information for decision-making. Stakeholder engagement is very important in two aspects: as a value and as a practical tool for reaching common understanding and best results.
The Environment Sector Manager of the EU Delegation to Ukraine Oleksander Klitko emphasized the importance of applying a targeted approach to addressing complex environmental issues, where the result becomes noticeable only afterwards. He stressed that the dependence of the state of the environment on the environmentally friendly behavior of many enterprises and all citizens, as well as policies and legislation that introduce limitations and incentives, requires the joining of efforts of many stakeholders with the aim to preserve nature.
Chair of the Coordination Board of the UNENGO MAMA-86 Anna Golubovska-Onisimova emphasized that the achievement of good governance is a process that can be implemented gradually, according to the needs, priorities and capacity. In addition, the environmental governance can be used to strengthen the overall governance by providing entry points for participation, transparency, accountability, building trust and legitimacy. She presented the project deliverables, in particular the study of the concept of good environmental governance, and shared the findings. In particular, with regard to challenges to the good environmental governance commonly found in all the EaP countries, she noted that most important is the fact that the environment is a low priority on the state agenda, and this raises the following issues and risks: insufficient human and financial resources; low level of support from political leaders; administrative reform further weakening the environmental authorities and procedures; deregulation being carried out on account of the environment; environmental considerations being perceived as an obstacle to development priorities, etc. She also reminded that the Luxembourg Declaration raised environmental issues to the political level of the Eastern Partnership, and therefore many of the current challenges of the environmental reform can and should be addressed through multilateral cooperation within the Eastern Partnership.
Partner of the Project “Advancing Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine for the European Environmental Governance Reforms”, head of the Belarus organization Ecohome Irina Sukhiy outlined the situation with environmental governance in Belarus. She supported the view that the challenges of environmental governance in the EaP countries are very similar, in particular with regard to cross-sectoral coordination within the government. Thus, noting certain progress of the Ministry of Ecology in the development of SEA legislation as well as procedures for public involvement in the decision-making, she nevertheless underlined that as soon as the processes go beyond the ecological stakeholders’ community, the effectiveness of the new tools is lost.
Partner of the Project “Advancing Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine for the European Environmental Governance Reforms”, representative of the Moldovan Association Ecocontact Andrey Isac presented the latest achievements in the development of the environmental policy of the Republic of Moldova, and outlined the current institutional changes, commitments, plans and expectations in the context of implementation of the Moldova-EU Association Agreement. He also agreed with the similarity of challenges for the environmental reform for all EaP countries, and also stressed the need to eliminate the gaps between the planned and actually implemented measures, taking into account the importance of targets.
Representative of the “Environment.People.Law.” Sofiya Shutiak presented the aspects of the environmental governance reform at the local self-government level and demonstrated that the legislation, despite all the issues, contains the long-standing effective provisions that can be used to address the problems related to coordination and accountability of the local authorities in the environmental area. She also suggested that capacity building opportunities include the improvement of the educational level of local self-government bodies, establishment of effective communication between the central executive bodies and local authorities, formation of effective behavior patterns.
Natalia Andrusevych, WG5 CSP, RAC “Society and Environment”, commenting on good environmental governance in the context of implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement noted that many environmental reforms were included in the Association Agreement, and if good governance is considered a value, a principle, then the assessment of reforms in the environmental area should be based on this perspective. The question is whether the necessary mechanisms/tools are in place and whether the mechanism(s) complies with good governance. The public/population needs not only the mechanism; it should be operational in accordance with the principles of good governance (no corruption, involvement of the public, effectiveness, etc.).
Coordinator of the Water Programs of UNENGO MAMA-86 Anna Tsvetkova also emphasized that the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement is a powerful external factor that influences and sets the vector of reform, in particular, water resources management in Ukraine, ensures the implementation of values and principles of good governance in the water sector. However, the ongoing major changes in legislation, the implementation of the harmonized water legislation requires timely institutional and organizational reforms and the introduction of new water management tools: water resources monitoring programs, river basin management plans, financial instruments, etc. The same as in other areas, it is necessary to first determine the Water Strategy, the main goals and objectives for the legislation to support them accordingly.
GWP representative Andriy Demydenko added that the GWP proposes an approach whereby water is not a sector but an interconnector between sectors such as water supply, sanitation, food, irrigation, hydropower industry, cooling of power plants. He stressed the importance of redefining the place of environment in the society-economy-nature system, which is the main and fundamental, since both society and economy depend on the environment, which can exist without both, and in society there are still communities that get by without the economy.
Many participants spoke on the need to change consciousness, to educate a new generation, to provide education for local self-governments and awareness-raising for the population. All agreed on the importance of establishing a dialogue between the Ministry and the public with the participation of the EU Delegation, as well as monitoring the implementation of the Road Map and preparing a review of the progress in achieving good environmental governance within the framework of the Luxembourg Declaration for reporting at the Second Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and Climate Change to be held at the end of 2018.
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