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The principles of the state policy concerning the environment and its development in 1998 were formulated with regard to the socio-economic situation in the country and the actual situation in the national economic complex, which had not overcome the consequences of the economic management of the former regime.

The economy of Ukraine was originally centralized and characterized by great structural disproportions. An inefficient economic system led to non-rational utilization of resources and excessive consumption of energy. The system did not recognize the value of natural resources, did not stimulate to conservation and sustainable use of these resources, and was oriented towards production and gross output figures only. As a result of long-term disproportions in the allocation of productive forces under the conditions of the command-administrative economy, the technogenic impact on the natural environment of Ukraine still exceeds 4-5 times the levels in developed countries. Chemical, metallurgical and mining enterprises comprise a considerable share of the industrial sector. Use of outdated technologies and equipment, an extremely high concentration of potentially dangerous installations in certain regions, and worn-out technical equipment at industrial enterprises have created a considerable probability of serious emergencies and catastrophes with unforeseen after-effects for the environment.

As a result of such policy the economy of Ukraine is annually losing about 10% of gross domestic product due to decreased efficiency of capital funds, and non-rational use of natural and human resources. Resource consumption for the final national product almost thrice exceeds the world level.

  Such a situation requires an adequate and complex approach. Up to 1998 inclusive, the efforts at the political level aimed at resolving the environmental problems in Ukraine were concentrated on the following:

    Development and improvement of a new environmental policy;

     Integration of the environmental policy into the strategy of socio-economic reforms;

     Development of nature-protective programmes and projects in the priority areas;

     Formation of conditions and potentialities for expanding internal and foreign investments in the field of nature protection.

In 1998, the analysis of the causes of the difficult environmental situation in Ukraine (under conditions of transformation of the political system, transition to a market economy and a deep economic crisis) served a basis for the practical completion of a formulation of the principles for the present environmental policy, meeting internal requirements and also being a part of the Pan-European environmental process. The main principles of the state environmental policy have been ensured by the corresponding articles of the Constitution of Ukraine (1996), by a series of laws adopted in the period 1991-1998 and presented in the programme document “Main aspects of the national policy on environmental protection, utilization of natural resources, and guarantee of environmental safety”, approved by a Decision of the Supreme Council of Ukraine (No. 188/98 – BP of 5 March 1998). This document announces at the state level the long-term solution strategy for ecological problems within a system, and the coordination of objectives, tasks, mechanisms and tools. The document determines the priorities of nature-protection activities and nature use, as well as mechanisms of their achievement, and is the basis of the National Environmental Action Plan of Ukraine.
Due to the considerable number of complex ecological problems and rather limited resources available for their solution, the prioritization of sectoral activity proves to be one of the key tasks of the state environmental policy. In view of this, attention should be focused on long-term priorities of environment protection and rational use of natural resources, as determined in “Main Aspects …”, in particular:

    guarantee of ecological safety of nuclear facilities and radiation protection of the population and the environment, and minimization of the detrimental effects of the Chernobyl catastrophe;

    improvement of the ecological state of river basins of Ukraine and potable water quality;

    stabilization and improvement of ecological conditions in cities and industrial centres of the Donetsk-Dnipro region;

    construction of new and renovation of existing capacities of communal wastewater treatment facilities;

    prevention of pollution of the Black and Azov seas and improvement of their ecological condition;

    formation of a balanced system of use of natural resources and suitable restructuring of the production potential of the economy, and the greening of technologies in industry, power generation, construction, agriculture, and transportation;

    biological and landscape diversity conservation, development of nature reserves.

Development of the  Draft Conception of sustainable development of Ukraine (the project was approved by the central  governmental bodies and presented to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in April 1999) was also completed in 1998. The Conception is a political base for a harmonic combination of state strategies in the efforts to resolve the economic, environmental and social problems of the process of socio-economic reformation of society.

The formulated environmental policy is based on the use of ecological and economic instruments (for instance a system of payments for the use of natural resources and pollution of the environment) in the regulation of nature utilization. This policy stipulates a development and improvement of the environmental safety system through actions preventing environmental pollution and emergencies, and the ensuring of nuclear and radiation safety as well as biological and landscape diversity conservation.

The environmental policy is carried out by the development and implementation of certain national, state, regional, local and installation programmes and projects. In 1998, some of the programmes in the process of implementation were:

    National programme of prospective development of Nature Conservation Protected Sites in Ukraine (Decision of the Supreme Council of Ukraine No. 177/9 – BP of 22 September 1994);

    State programme of radioactive waste management (Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 480 of 29 April 1996);

     National Programme of environmental rehabilitation of the Dnieper Basin and improvement of drinking water quality (Decision of the Supreme Council of Ukraine No. 123/97 – BP of 27 February 1997);

    Conception of the conservation of biological diversity in Ukraine (Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 439 of 12 May 1997);

    State programme on the use of wastes of production and consumption for the period up to 2005 (Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 668 of 28 June 1997);

    Conception on protection and rehabilitation of the environment of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov (Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 1057 of 10 July 1998).

Environmental priorities were also reflected in the strategic state programmes developed in 1998: Action Programme of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine for 1998-99; Programme of Structural Reorganization of the Ukrainian Economy for the Period 1999-2003; State Programme of Social and Economic Development for 1998 and 1999 (section “Natural Resources and Environment”), and, finally, Programme of Socio-Economic Development of Ukraine up to 2010 “Ukraine – 2010”.

The most important measures emerging from the above programmes were included in the plans of economic and social development of the regions and districts. Such regional programmes as the Programme of State Support of Complex Development of the city of Lviv for 1998-2002; State Programme of Socio-Economic Development of the city of Kyiv for the Period up to 2010; State Programme of Socio-Economic Development of Donetsk Region for 1998-2010; Conception of Economy Reformation in Kherson Region, etc., could be mentioned in this connection.

It has been recognized that concrete measures for implementation of the national environmental policy must be concentrated at the regional and local levels. Thus the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine as to “Main aspects of the national policy on environmental protection, utilization of natural resources, and guarantee of environmental safety” (No. 671-p of 17 August 1998) contains further steps in the implementation of the environmental policy :

    Development and implementation of local environmental action plans (control term of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of 30 June 1999);

    Development and implementation of the mechanisms of realization of a regional (local) environmental policy;

    Maximum integration of the environmental policy into the strategy of regional (local) plans of socio-economic reforms;

    Development of interrelations with local authorities and other interested parties.

In view of the complex realization of the environmental policy, it is important to outline the problems requiring priority. Several criteria may be used to estimate the efficiency of the introduction of an environmental policy. Firstly, these are the figures concerning the state of the public health: life expectancy, birth- and death-rate ratios, and dynamics of age and sex allocation throughout the country and in certain regions. Secondly, the figures of development and efficiency of the system of environmental management, and, primarily, the systems of inexhaustible (sustainable) utilization of natural resources. Thirdly, there are the indices of the state of the environment: the level of pollution of the atmospheric air, water bodies, and land resources, the value of recreation zones and reserve territories, and the richness of biologic diversity. Simple analysis shows that these three criteria are closely related: human health is affected by the environment quality, and thus the indicators of public health and those of environment health depend on the level of development of an environmental management system. For 1998 these figures  remain dismal.

Though the anthropogenic pressure on the environment, as well as the pollution of the air and water environment, have decreased in recent years, these positive changes are mainly a result of the long-term economic crisis, the decline in output being their most essential indicators. The measures to improve the state environmental management system carried out in recent years have absolutely played and continue to play a progressive role, but these positive changes in the state of the environment are still based on factors reflecting the economic situation. This is confirmed by the following fact: the rates of decline of  energy generation in recent years were lower than the rates of decline of production. This means that production is becoming more and more energy- and resource-consuming. The inadequate processing of a steadily increasing amount of wastes from production and consumption is also a cause of concern.

The task of the environmental policy for the immediate future will be twofold. Firstly, improvements at the institutional and technological levels have to reverse the negative tendencies of production towards a decrease of resource and energy consumption. Secondly, it is necessary to ensure a system of management, control and technological maintenance which will not permit an increase of the technogenic pressure on the environment once production starts to increase again.

Among important systemic problems to be solved there is the problem of environmental priorities. The authorities consider these problems to be less significant than the economic priorities, in particular increased production rates. When it comes to the environment, decision-makers and leaders in the various sectors of the economy have yet to put their ideas and declaration into practice. In this respect key efforts are expected to be undertaken by the environmental  sector, which has to develop the methodology of introduction of the environmental policy.

In view of the intersectoral character and the necessity of a systemic approach, the solution of the problem of integration of ecological priorities into the strategy of socio-economic reforms requires:

    Development of concrete mechanisms of such integration;

    Formation of new and improvement of existing mutually advantageous forms of partnership between the sectors, in     particular when it comes to development and introduction of different level plans;

    Formation of a new methodology of development and implementation of the action plans;

    Development of new and improvement of existing mechanisms of raising funds for nature protection activities.

 In addition to the above problems, there is a problem of enforcement of legislation. In spite of a rather well-developed legislative base there has been no essential efficiency of the nature-protection laws. The complex character of the problem requires detailed analysis.

There clearly is an awareness of the serious situation in the field of nature protection and an understanding of the necessity and urgency of dealing with the environmental problems in the country. There is a systemic vision as to mechanisms and approaches to problem solution as well as a desire and objective preconditions for such solutions. This gives  hope that the state will overcome the negative tendencies connected with the environment in the immediate future.



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