The National Interests Advocacy Network ANTS, together with partners and the Prometheus platform, presented a free online course «Assessment of environmental damage from russian aggression».
«The project we are presenting today would not be possible without the financial support of the US State Department, namely the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL). Why is this course important? Figures of environmental damage from armed aggression of the russian federation must be supported by evidence in order to be accepted by judges in international courts. Therefore, it is necessary to collect all the evidence correctly, record and calculate everything correctly.
We want to attract environmentalists, journalists, representatives of local governments and conservationists and encourage them to take our course, which is open from today. It’s absolutely free. You can go in, register and take the course. We have a big country, and it depends on each of us to properly fix the environmental crimes of the russian federation,» said Olena Sas, coordinator of the project «Together for Environmental Democracy, Justice and the Rule of Law in Ukraine,» funded by The U.S. State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) Network «ANTS».
The course has several blocks, including economic and technical evaluations, legislative framework, etc.
Oksana Abduloeva, expert in environmental impact assessment, candidate of biological sciences, member of the expert group for the development of scientific recommendations for recording and assessing damage to the environment from the war at the Operational Headquarters of the State Environmental Inspection, emphasizes that in her training block she tried to reflect as correctly and correctly as possible record environmental damage and assess it.
«The fact is that it cannot be done in any arbitrary way. After all, you need to keep the ultimate goal in mind – to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for damages and receive these compensations. They will become the basis for the restoration of the environment in the future, as well as for the restoration of conditions for the health and well-being of people. Therefore, today, almost the only legally correct way is to use those methods and methods that are legally recognized, and we rely on this in our part of the training course devoted to technical evaluation.»
Journalist, ecologist, retired Armed Forces officer Oleg Listopad noted that in his part of the course it helps to see which aspects to focus attention on and which questions to ask officials correctly.
«The officials, I am convinced, are not ready to answer some questions, because they have a worked-out algorithm: the losses amount to so much and they add a few words. And in fact, there are much more questions,» says Oleg Listopad.
The expert is convinced that this course will be interesting not only to domestic, but also to foreign mass media, because the ecological consequences of russia’s military aggression will be felt not only by Ukrainians, but it will take years to restore the environment.
«The attention of the foreign press is very important. In order to receive funds for restoration, it is necessary to create mechanisms for seizing russian assets, part of which will be directed to compensation for ecological damage, he said. “Lawyers, including those from Western countries, are now helping to improve international legislation, analyzing what problems there are, developing certain mechanisms, and they must be written about.»
Oleksandr Stavniychuk, head of the environmental control department of the Department of Environmental Control and Methodology of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, emphasized that the Ministry of Justice has currently registered seven methods for calculating damages caused by russian aggression against Ukraine.
«In particular, damages are already being calculated in four directions. These are land, soils, atmospheric air, water resources. The State Environmental Inspection is working in this direction, and almost 2 trillion hryvnias in damages have already been calculated. And this is only the beginning, because there is still a lot of work to do. We still need to calculate the damages related to the forests and the nature reserve fund,» he said.
At the same time, he added that the preliminarily estimated damage to Ukraine’s subsoil due to the war is 10 trillion hryvnias.
«These funds are very large, and our main goal is for them to be compensated. For this, at the state level, relevant specialists have been working with international partners for months to determine this path,» said Stavniychuk.
Maria Ilyina, head of the ecosystem assessment department of the natural resource potential of the Institute of Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, noted that the damage to the environment is extremely large, but the real figure of damage may be much higher.
«Why? First of all, because the calculated damage and losses are not for all elements of the environment, not all negative connections and consequences are taken into account, and, first of all, this is due to the lack of data, and the fact that this is an extremely complex and complex work. In addition, the public, authorities, and specialists in one or another field do not have access to those territories, which are currently most affected by military actions».
According to her, when the territories are de-occupied, it will be clear how catastrophic and global the damage caused by the war is.
«It has to be said that the environmental consequences have quite an accumulative effect, often unpredictable, one that can increase over time,» she said.
Experts emphasize that nowadays it is extremely important to record the damage caused to nature correctly and in detail, and add: for this, it is not necessary to be an environmentalist. Ordinary citizens can also join the process.
«We want to show them the way in which they can help record this damage to the environment and subsequently document it in such a way that it is possible to submit the really collected evidence to the relevant judicial or compensation authorities to collect compensation for the damage caused,» says Oksana Abduloeva.
It is worth noting that from the course «Assessment of damage to the environment from russian aggression» you can learn:
- how is the technical assessment of damage caused to the environment by russian armed aggression carried out?
- how the economic assessment of losses is carried out, what methods are used and how to make calculations?
- what laws, regulations and other regulations help in this work and how they can be used?
- how to properly speak, write, film, show about the consequences of russia’s war against Ukraine for the environment and people’s health.
The most successful students of the course will be invited to participate in the summer Eco School, where they will have the opportunity to improve their knowledge in live communication with the course teachers.
«The process of restoring the environment will last for decades. Environmental damage assessment is also a long process that will last for years, provided we carefully work together on technical assessment, economic calculations and legal work with international justice institutions. The course is the first introductory step on this path,» says Olena Sas.