Stop Running Down the Ministry for Environmental Protection!
In launching a public pressure campaign, environmental NGOs have sent an appeal to the heads of three branches of power in Ukraine calling on them to stop the decline of the Ministry for Environmental Protection.
They point out that over the last 10 years there have been 7 different Ministers, and the ministry has faced restructuring on more than one occasion.
“The constant change of leadership and staffing policy of the latter, not based on professional considerations, place in doubt the ability of the Ministry for Environmental Protection to carry out effective and legislatively productive functions, to administer environmental protection funding. This is at a time when Ukraine desperately needs an environmental protection structure ready to stop the destruction of nature and carry out numerous international obligations.
Of particular concern is the assault on the environmental rights of the public, enshrined in the Aarhus Convention. Over many years the public had been making a professional input in the work of the Ministry. The work on drawing up and passing a Strategy for National Environmental Policy has become lacking in openness. The previous version of this was drawn up with public participation whereas the latest one has already been submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers although it has yet to be published on the Ministry’s website, not to mention there having been no public discussion.
The authors propose:
- that authorized bodies, with the help of European consultants, carry out an independent audit of the management capacity of the Ministry;
- that the Cabinet of Ministers, with the participation of the public and independent experts prepare and approve Provisions on the Stabilization and Consolidation of a System for Management of Environmental Protection which would fix a ban on changing the structure and main staffing of the Ministry more often than once in 5 years.
- that the Prosecutor General’s Office consider bringing to answer those responsible for violating Article 7 of the Law on the Protection of the National Environment. This states that environmental known is a mandatory qualifying requirement for all officials whose work is connected with the use of natural resources and has impact on the state of the environment.
- that the Cabinet of Ministers, at the demand of the public, make a submission to the Verkhovna Rada to have the Minister, O. Boiko, removed from his post;
- that the Cabinet of Ministers approve criteria for appointing high-ranking officials in environmental protection institutions: managerial professionalism; experience of environmental work; ability to uphold environmental values and to constructively cooperate with the public.
The appeal is signed by a large number of the most prominent environmental NGOs in Ukraine, including “MAMA-86”; the Ukrainian Environmental League; “Environment – People – Law” [EPL]; “Zeleny Svit” [“Green World”]; “Chysta Khvylya” [“Clean Wave”] and the National Ecological Centre [NECU]