Strengthening the fight against environmental crime should be one of the main priorities of criminal policy. This was stated by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a video address recorded for a joint meeting of heads of law enforcement and other state bodies on compliance with environmental legislation, combating criminal offenses against the environment.
The Constitution of Ukraine guarantees every citizen the right to a safe environment for life and health. At the same time, according to the Head of State, today the deterioration of air quality, drinking water and food is an urgent problem that has a negative impact on life expectancy, morbidity, and this issue worries the whole world.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed that the population of Ukraine and the world is increasingly feeling the effects of climate change and growing man-made pressure on the environment - the processes of irrational use of natural resources, degradation of forests, water basins, agricultural lands, and inefficiency of household and industrial waste management have become widespread.
The President reminded of the ecological disaster from illegal amber mining. A number of steps have already been taken to legalize mining and prosecute illegal miners.
"However, there is still insufficient information on punishments for high-profile crimes in this area, especially those committed by organized groups. I would also like to hear what has been done to restore the forest lands, which as a result of barbaric amber hunting have turned into a desert,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy added.
The need to strengthen the protection of the forest fund of Ukraine remains an acute topic. In 2019, the President signed a law banning clear-felling on the mountain slopes of the Carpathian region.
"But citizens have not yet received adequate information about the eliminated criminal schemes in the field of timber circulation, including the imprisonment of officials involved in them. There is also a weak resistance to the smuggling of timber across the customs border of Ukraine," the President stressed.
The Head of State also focused on the exclusion zone around the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, where the unprecedented process of self-restoration of natural complexes inherent in this territory in the past has been going on for 30 years without human intervention.
“This is a unique process! Therefore, the main goal of the Chornobyl zone activity is to minimize the environmentally negative consequences of the accident and ensure unconditional safety in the management of radioactive waste," Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted.
"The scale and public danger of environmental crime require law enforcement and other government agencies to work at 200 percent of their capacity. Strengthening the fight against environmental offenses should be one of the main priorities of criminal policy," the President stressed.
The President reminded of his words at the UN General Assembly that the world has no spare planet.
"I can tell you today: we do not have a spare Ukraine. It should be flourishing, picturesque, with beautiful forests, clean seas, rivers, lakes and clean air, which the next generations of Ukrainians will breathe deeply. And everyone who prevents this - from criminals to civil servants who cover them, should look at the clear Ukrainian sky through the bars," Volodymyr Zelenskyy summed up.