President of Ukraine

Andriy Yermak, Margot Wallström held the second meeting of the Ukraine War Environmental Consequences Work Group

16 September 2023 - 10:15

Andriy Yermak, Margot Wallström held the second meeting of the Ukraine War Environmental Consequences Work Group

The second meeting of the Ukraine War Environmental Consequences Work Group was co-chaired by Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak and former Deputy Prime Minister, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden Margot Wallström.

The meeting was also attended by video links by: President of Ireland in 1990-1997 Mary Robinson, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius, Professor, CEO of the European Climate Foundation Laurence Tubiana, Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Brazil in 2010-2016 Isabella Teixeira, Vice-President of the European Parliament Heidi Hautala, and a member of the Swedish Parliament, Rebecka Le Moine. From the Ukrainian side, Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Ruslan Strilets, Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin, advisors to the head of the President's Office Daria Zarivna and Oleksandr Bevz participated.

Opening the meeting, Andriy Yermak said that the ongoing Russian aggression continually increases the number of crimes against the Ukrainian environment, making the effectiveness of the activities of this international work group extremely important.

The Head of the Office of the President emphasized that environmental protection, like other aspects of the Ukrainian Peace Formula, requires a shared vision and efforts.

"The environmental direction aims at developing and implementing a comprehensive plan for Ukraine's environmental recovery from the consequences of the war. The appropriate mechanisms that will be developed for Ukraine and applied should be universal and effectively prevent crimes against the environment in the world, be reflected in the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly and other documents of the international law system," he is convinced.

As Margot Wallström said, what is happening in Ukraine today is important for the entire world.

"We must have a strong response to the war against the environment and support all efforts to hold those responsible for these crimes accountable," she is convinced.

Margot Wallström presented the framework document of the international work group, which defines three priorities of its work: the most complete assessment of the damage caused to the environment, the search for the best strategy for determining and ensuring responsibility and compensation for these crimes, and recommendations for Ukraine's post-war transition to a green economy.

Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said that Ukraine is investigating 14 cases of ecocide committed during Russia's aggressive war against our country. A total of 252 war crimes resulted in environmental damage have already been recorded. On June 6, on the day of the intentional blowing up of the Kakhovka HPP by the Russian occupiers, an investigation into war crimes and ecocide was launched.
Kostin emphasized that Ukraine has become the first country to make efforts to prosecute environmental war crimes and ecocide.

According to Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine Ruslan Strilets, today, about 700,000 hectares of Ukrainian forests are located in the occupied territories or in the combat zone, 2.4 million hectares of forests are in the liberated territories. These forests need restoration. 20% of the protected territories of Ukraine were affected by the war. Currently, 10 national parks, eight natural and two biosphere reserves are under Russian occupation.

Strilets said that the mission of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has prepared a project to assess the environmental impact of the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP dam, and the development of an environmental restoration program is expected. Ukraine has planted hundreds of hectares of the Kakhovka Reservoir's bottom with annual plants to protect against dust storms and the spread of alien species.

To restore natural ecosystems, the implementation of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Green Country program to plant 1 billion trees continues. In particular, over 112 million forest seedlings were planted in the spring, and at least 90 million trees are planned to be planted this autumn.

Following the meeting, a framework document of the Ukraine War Environmental Consequences Work Group was adopted. It states that the group will devote the coming year to utilizing expert knowledge in all of the aforementioned areas to advance recommendations that will help Ukraine move toward a green future, protect its environment, and achieve due justice for the damage inflicted.