The independence of Ukraine, and the building of an open democratic society and market economy have revealed the depth of the environmental crisis and given our country an opportunity for positive development.
The environmental policy of Ukraine has been formulated during the years of independence. In March 1998 the Supreme Council of Ukraine approved "Main aspects of the national policy on environmental protection, utilization of natural resources, and guarantee of environmental safety". This document contains a long-term strategy aimed at resolving the environmental problems in Ukraine at the state level.
The declared policy is based on a unified solution of the economic and environmental problems, and creation of motivation and conditions for the solution of environmental problems at the national, regional, local and installation levels.
Due to the considerable number of environmental problems of different magnitude as well as rather limited resources for their solution, the establishing of priorities is one of the key tasks of the state environmental policy. In accordance with "Main aspects of the national policy on environmental protection, utilization of natural resources, and guarantee of environmental safety" (1998) the long-term priorities of environmental utilization of natural resources are as follows:
guarantee of the environmental safety of nuclear installations and radiation safety of the population and the environment, reducing to a minimum the harmful influence of the after-effects of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant catastrophe;
improvement of the ecological state of the Dnieper River Basin and the quality of drinking water;
stabilization and improvement of the state of the environment in the cities and industrial centres of the Donets-Dnieper area;
construction of new municipal sewage purification works and reconstruction of those in operation;
prevention of pollution of the Black and Azov Seas and improvement of their environmental state;
formation of a balanced system of nature utilization and an adequate restructurization of the economy's production potential, ecologization of technologies in industry, power generation, civil engineering, agriculture and transport;
protection of biological and landscape diversity, and development of nature-reserve science.
Practically new nature-protection laws have been enacted during the years of our independence.The Ministry for Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine have developed and the Supreme Council of Ukraine has adopted the Land (1992), Forest (1994), and Water (1995) codes and a Code on Mineral Resources (1994), as well as the Laws of Ukraine "On Environment Protection" (1991), "On Nature Reserve Lands" (1992), "On Wildlife" (1993), "On Environmental Examination" (1995), "On Utilization of Nuclear Power and Nuclear Safety" (1995), "On Handling Radioactive Waste" (1995), "On Waste" (1998), "On Flora" (1999), etc.
The basic elements of formation of an economic mechanism for nature utilization and nature protection activities have been developed and introduced. Introduction of ecological-economic factors has created stimuli for the rational utilization of natural resources as well as real sources of financing of nature-protective activities.
A separate section "Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety" was established in the State budget as of 1994 for covering expenditures connected with recreation and maintenance of natural resources. The section estimates expenditures for protection and rational utilization of water, mineral and land resources, creation of forest stands and forest-shelter belts, protection of the Nature Reserve Lands, and maintenance of local nature-protection bodies.
A system of target funds for environment protection at the general state and local levels was introduced in Ukraine in 1992. In 1998 they were included into the corresponding budgets.
Rather important experience concerning the activity of environmental funds has been accumulated for the time of introduction of the system of environment protection funds in Ukraine.
As regards the future, the only productive way to prevent ecotechnogenic threats is to switch from a pattern of merely reacting to events (accidents and catastrophes) and create a system of preventive safety control, undertake a reorientation of the scientific and technical potential for the development of new equipment with a guaranteed level of safety, and introduce programmes for safety control and a legal framework for control of the technogenic environment.
The conception of national security of Ukraine distinguishes among the priority national interests of ensuring environmental safety, and introduction of ecologically safe technologies in all spheres of society and its activities. The Ministry for Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety has to play its own rather important part in the realization of the above conception.
Environmental problems have no national boundaries. When solving the environmental problems of Polissia, Ukraine favours the recreation of the "green lungs" of Europe.
When improving the sanitary conditions of the water environment of the Azov-Black Sea area, and when working with ecological recreation of the Dnieper and its basin, our country favours reduced tension in the solution of regional and global problems. A democratic Ukraine with a clean environment and a stable economy is not the only dream of our people, but also to become a full-right member of the European and world community.
In keeping with the main ideas and principles announced at the UN conference on environment and development (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), Ukraine has declared its intention to strive for sustainable development, which provides for a balanced solution of socio-economic tasks, and of problems of securing a favourable state of the environment and the natural-resource potential, with the purpose of meeting the vital requirements of present and future generations.
The parity of relations in the triad: man-economy-nature, which provides for the transition to a way of interrelations between nature and society characterized as the epoch of noosphere is the basis of sustainable development.
Sustainable development generalizes the process of revival and recreation of the national gene pool, entails active involvement of the general public, guarantees the individual's rights and freedoms, environmental protection and formation of conditions for recreation of the biosphere and its local ecosystems, and is oriented towards a reduced level of anthropogenic impact on the environment, and a harmonized development of people and nature.
The Ministry for Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety has developed a draft Conception on sustainable development of Ukraine. The Conception declares that Ukraine can provide for sustainable development by the efficient utilization of all kinds of resources, structural-technological restructurization of production, and the use of the creative potential of all members of society for the construction and prosperity of the state.
Environmental protection and rational use of natural resources aimed at achieving sustainable development of Ukraine shall not be considered as an end in itself, but as an integral part of the development process.
The idea of sustainable development concerns not only the present, but also future generations. This means equal rights for all generations and all people of every generation, efficient use of potentialities, and a balanced character of societal development and nature protection.
I hope that the objective representation of the environment processes in the "National Report on the State of the Environment" will favour nature-protective activities, and a comprehension of the necessity to realize its priorities in all spheres of life.