In 1998 the main objective of the environmental protection activities was further development of the legal and methodological basis of nature management, environmental protection and nuclear safety.
The adoption by the Supreme Council of the “Main aspects of the national policy on environmental protection, utilization of natural resources, and guarantee of environmental safety” (5 March 1998) completed a long process of development of the major elements of the modern environmental policy of the country, which meets internal needs as well as international requirements. Further activities were aimed at stipulating the ecological priorities in the national and regional policies and local plans of development.
Environmental priorities are set in the strategic state programmes developed in 1998 – Programme of social and economic development through the year of 2010 “Ukraine-2010”’ Programme of activities of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine for 1998-99, Programme of structural reconstruction of the economy of Ukraine for 1999-2003, State programme of social and economic development for 1998 and 1999 (section “Natural resources and environment”).
One of the major activities in 1998 was improvement of the efficient mechanism of nature management and environmental protection. During this year the principle of fees collection for utilization of land, water and biological and mineral resources was enforced.
Due to a further deepening of the economic crisis and decline in production, collection of resource payments considerably decreased (UAH 133.2 million against UAH 203.9 million budgeted for 1998), which in turn reduced the financing of environmental protection and nature management programmes by the State fund for environmental protection.
At the same time the establishment of an adequate legal basis helped increase the effectiveness of the inspection activities. Thus, the total sum of the administrative fines by the State ecological inspection increased 1.3 times in comparison to 1997; the collection of fines has also been improved.
The usage of money collected in the form of fines for environmental pollution and utilization of natural resources is still ineffective, and this mechanism needs considerable improvement.
Given the scale and importance of the ecological problems generally caused by disproportional allocation of productive resources in the former Soviet Union and non-rational nature management, the environmental protection of the country is considered as important in terms of the national security system as are economic, military and energy safety. Such an approach is adopted in the Concept of the national security of Ukraine and other documents.
In order to improve the legal basis and specify the regulating mechanisms in the sphere of environmental protection, a series of conception documents have been developed together with new draft laws. This particularly pertains to such an important area as the processing of waste, where a lot of new laws an by-laws have been issued. Much work has been done to implement the state ecological examination on all levels of the executive power of the country.
Within the system of environmental protection, monitoring plays the leading role in providing systematic operational and reliable information about the state of the environment, which is a necessary element of correct decision-making.
During 1998, work in this area included mainly organization and coordination of a functional state system of environmental monitoring, development and support of the information systems of the Ministry for Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety of Ukraine and other executive bodies, and organization and support of a response system for nuclear and radiation accidents. At the same time analysis of the status and effectiveness of the activities of the departmental monitoring networks in 1998 shows major obstacles due to the general economic crisis in Ukraine. This has resulted in limited financing of all the projects and programmes related to ecological monitoring and environmental protection and aimed at increasing the level of ecological safety in the country.
Considerable legal and programming activities have taken place in the area of rational utilization of natural resources. Specifically, measures to rectify the after-effects of mining activities in the country have been developed and implemented, thus preventing the deterioration of large territories. Air pollution by industrial enterprises was reduced by 7%. The area of national parks and reserves was increased considerably compared to 1997 (by 91,500 hectares).
The proper coordination of implementation of the current state programmes (National programme for ecological recreation of the Dnieper Basin and improvement of the quality of potable water) and development of new ones (Programme of formation of a national ecological network, Programme of gradual reduction of the use of leaded gasoline in Ukraine, National programme on preservation of the flora and fauna through the year of 2015) has been conducted.
In the area of nuclear and radiation safety Ukraine, in accordance with the Constitution of the country and international commitments, focused its efforts on protection of its population and environment against radiation after-effects caused by the use of nuclear power and sources of ionizing radiation. The main mechanism of this protection is the state regulation of nuclear and radiation safety through development of a proper legal basis, the functioning of the state bodies of nuclear and radiation protection with proper authority and resources, implementation of allowed use of nuclear energy in the economy, close supervision of this activity, conduct of the state ecological examination, state supervision of the principle of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and establishment of a functional system of contingency planning and accident readiness.
During 1998 Ukraine achieved certain progress in implementing the terms of current law and meeting its international commitments relating to nuclear power utilization. In February 1998 the Supreme Council of Ukraine adopted the law “On population protection against the after-effects of ionizing emission” and prepared many other new draft laws which are now being considered by the Supreme Council of Ukraine (Parliament).
Certain advances have been made in international environmental cooperation. The focal points of this activity are as follows:
Conclusion and implementation of bilateral agreements on cooperation in the area of environmental protection with countries with which cooperation is a national priority;
Ratification of international treaties and conventions of national priority and development of national plans of implementation of these agreements;
Introduction of principles of the pan-European environmental policy developed in particular in the such documents as “Environment for Europe”, “Health and environment”, “Transport and environment”.
Implementation of measures stipulated by the strategy of Ukraine’s integration into the EU, particularly harmonization of the environmental policy with that of the EU;
Attraction and utilization of technical assistance in the area of environmental protection, nuclear and radiation safety and rational usage of natural resources.
A symbol of international recognition of Ukraine is the selection of Kyiv to host the fifth ministerial conference “Environment for Europe” in 2002. Non-compliance of Ukraine with the assumed financial commitments under the concluded agreements, caused by a worsening of the economic situation in the country and the need to look for non-traditional ways of meeting the commitments and allocation of funds, is still a negative factor in the international activities of the country.
The key issues of the current ecological policy of the country have a dual orientation.
First, institutional and technological developments will introduce new energy-saving
production processes, which in turn will improve the environment and public health.
Second, it is necessary to implement a system of control and technological support, which
will reduce the technogenic load on the environment once production starts increasing.