Lack of guidelines is one of the problems of effective EIA implementation
The main problems of mining companies in the application of environmental impact assessment (EIA) and recommendations for overcoming them were in the focus of an online discussion, during which the research of DiXi Group experts was presented.
Peculiarities of the EIA procedure, problems with its application, the impact of coronavirus on the implementation of EIA in Ukraine – these issues were considered on 29 October at the round table “Problems of the Application of Environmental Impact Assessment in the Extractive Sector and Ways of Their Solution”. Representatives of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Energy and Environment Inter-Factional Association, Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, State Service of Geology and Subsoil of Ukraine, Association of Gas Producers of Ukraine, National Extractive Industry Association, European Business Association, environmental associations and the public took part in the discussion.
Olena Pavlenko, President of DiXi Group, noted that Ukraine has many ambitious plans in its international obligations in the field of ecology and environmental protection: “This is both the Association Agreement and the Paris Agreement. Once we have signed these commitments, we must fulfill them. We decided to see [in the study – ed.] how these commitments are being fulfilled, how EIA can be improved so that all regulations, all requirements are preserved to the extent possible and information is available to communities, the public and journalists. And, finally, so that companies can apply EIA procedures as simply and quickly as possible.”
The study “EIA in the Extractive Sector: Practice and Problems of Application” was presented by Olha Polunina, DiXi Group Expert. “EIA is a tool for detecting potential negative impacts of economic activity on the environment and establishing measures to minimize such kinds of impacts at the planning stage of a project that is effectively applied around the world,” she said.
The study covers five main problems of companies during the application of the EIA procedure. Some of them are related to the specifics of the extractive industry, and some – to the shortcomings in the implementation of the Law of Ukraine “On Environmental Impact Assessment”.
The problems identified are as follows:
– a significant number of EIA procedures for a mining company;
– non-compliance with international legislation on EIA;
– no standardized approaches to the EIA report and opinion on EIA;
– no requirements for individuals/companies drafting the EIA report;
– “fictitious” public hearings in the EIA procedure.
Roman Shakhmatenko, Deputy Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources, noted that the ministry is developing guidelines. “The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources hears comments and proposals from entrepreneurs, the public, the expert community, etc. And the ministry is developing recommendations for the extractive industry and is always open for comments and proposals,” said R. Shakhmatenko. “In fact, it is difficult to develop universal guidelines that would apply to everyone. There are a lot of elements that need to be envisaged.”
Oleksandr Marikovskyi, Cochairperson of Energy and Environment IFA, Deputy Head of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Environmental Policy and Environmental Management, also noted that there are many problems in the EIA implementation procedure and, in particular, it is the lack of guidelines. According to him, the process of their development is ongoing, but is quite slow.
The DiXi Group study presented by Olha Polunina includes recommendations for the implementation of the proposed approaches that can ensure the speed, efficiency and transparency of the EIA procedure in Ukraine. You can read more about them in research and infographics.
According to Lesia Vasylenko, Cochairperson of Energy and Environment IFA, member of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Environmental Policy and Environmental Management, this round table launched a dialogue between all stakeholders.
“We will take the following steps already at the Committee within the framework of the existing task team for the improvement of the EIA procedure and strategic environmental assessment: whether there will be some proposals to improve the law, whether there will be proposals from the government for some government procedures, including for the development of the manual, which has been discussed a lot – these will be the issues that we will address within the Committee,” said L. Vasylenko at the round table.
The event was conducted by Energy and Environment IFA together with the USAID’s Transparent Energy project implemented by DiXi Group NGO.