On August 4, 2021, on the initiative of the UNP EaP CSF, an online seminar “Key Problems of Introducing Strategic Environmental Assessment as the Main Tool for Achieving Balanced Development of Local Communities” was held. The event was organized by the National Ecological Center of Ukraine. Scientists, experts, representatives of the public sector and UNP participants discussed existing obstacles that prevent local communities from developing their own development plans taking into account the interests of the environment and the health of residents.
Since 2018, the “Law on Strategic Environmental Assessment” has been in force in Ukraine, adopted on the basis of obligations under the Agreement with the EU, but the experience of its application shows that the approach to the implementation of such an assessment is often formal – this was one of the conclusions of the meeting. The problem appears already at the stage of determining the need for a SEA. Although the law clearly defines state planning documents as the object of the SEA, this definition is not clear and bypasses a number of management decisions that can affect the environment. This conclusion was made in his report “Screening of state planning documents and criteria for the need for SEA” Viktor Karamushka, Candidate of Biological Sciences, Associate Professor, Head of the Department of Ecology of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.
Ukrainian and European legislation is largely similar, and the existing differences leave the Ukrainian practice of strategic assessment largely ineffective, said Hennadii Marushevsky, Ph.D., leading researcher at the Research Institute for Social and Economic Development of the city. In the report “Imperfection of domestic legislation and the procedure for conducting SEA”, he focused on a comparative analysis of the Ukrainian law and the Protocol on SEA to the Espoo Convention, as well as gave examples of a qualitative approach to strategic environmental assessment in Canada and other countries.
The importance and practice of the public component at all stages of the SEA was discussed in the report of Admiral Makarov National University of Shipbuilding, Candidate of Technical Sciences Inna Timchenko “Public participation in the procedure of SEA projects of urban planning documentation on the example of planning the construction of RES facilities”. In particular, she analyzed the problems behind effective public participation in protecting their environmental interests: lack of awareness, legal ignorance, lack of proper communication with the authorities and the expert community.
During the discussion, other problems were outlined on the way of communities to balanced development. In particular, this is a conflict of interest within the authorities as customers and sea developers, the lack of an independent expert assessment of the SEA Report, the lack of certified report specialists, a low level of analytical tools and the lack of a scientific approach to the development of strategies, etc.
The use of strategic environmental assessment by communities as a procedure and tool for achieving sustainable development in Ukraine is hindered by a lack of knowledge and experience, methodological materials and well-established communication with the authorities, and this is the subject for the further work of environmental activists,” said Ruslan Havryliuk, Head of the National Ecological Center of Ukraine.
Working groups on environmental issues of the Ukrainian national platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and the Ukrainian side of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform are planning a number of joint measures in the autumn to deepen the practice of effective application of strategic environmental assessment in the development of their own development strategies by hromadas.
Information provided – Dmytro Ivanov, developer of the course “SEA – public instrument for monitoring the development of state planning documents”, head of the Kaniv subdivision of the National Ecological Center of Ukraine, RG3 UNP
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