SkyNews: What damage is Putin’s war doing to the Planet?February 28, 2023
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Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine has been going on for more than a year. The war not only causes terrible suffering among people in Ukraine, but also has a significant impact on the environment and biodiversity.
European and Ukrainian NGOs made a joint statement to the international community with 10 steps that will reduce harm to civilians and reduce the harmful impact of war on the environment.
- Strengthen Ukraine’s emergency response capacity. A crucial step to prevent and mitigate serious
pollution incidents at hazardous facilities, which includes the repair of damaged critical infrastructure, the
clearance of mines and unexploded ordnance, and land remediation measures at affected sites.
- Secure the demilitarization and de-occupation of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. All actors
must refrain from using this facility for military purposes. This is the most effective way to prevent a
catastrophic nuclear accident.
- Support ongoing work to identify, document and assess environmental damage and its impact on public
health. Stakeholders, including international organizations, academia and civil society are monitoring harm.
Improving coordination of this work and complementing it with on-site assessment of contaminated areas
and health surveillance is crucial to address current and future environmental and related public health
issues. Such foundational work must be systematically supported.
- Humanitarian actors and demining organizations should address environmental factors in their field
operations. This should include the identification and integration of environmental risks, as well as the
unintended environmental consequences of response operations.
- Develop mechanisms and structures to ensure accountability for the damage to Ukraine’s environment.
This includes support for the collection and archiving of evidence, the identification of best practice for
environmental reparations, as well as developing the international architecture required for state
accountability for environmental damage.
- Ensure Ukraine’s recovery is green and sustainable. With hundreds of billions of dollars already earmarked
for the cost of recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine, it is vital that concerns about climate change,
biodiversity loss and pollution are considered, and that the reconstruction is carried out in a way that
prevents the further degradation of Ukraine’s environment.
- Mainstream environmental protection in military doctrine. With the war ongoing, Ukraine’s military and
supporting international actors should ensure that policies aimed at minimizing damage to the environment
are integrated into training and planning, and share targeting data, where possible, with relevant authorities
and organizations to improve effective environmental response.
- Maintain visibility for the environmental dimensions of the war. States and non-state actors should
raise the environmental dimensions of the war in Ukraine in discussions at all relevant multilateral fora
and international agreements, and as part of wider exchanges on both the peace and security and
protection of civilians’ agendas.
- Address the impact of war on the climate. The war’s direct emissions, and those linked to shifts in
regional and global energy supplies, have highlighted the importance of addressing military and conflict
emissions in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and in debates
on climate change and security.
- Develop a global Environment, Peace and Security agenda. This war has highlighted the risks that
armed conflicts create for both the local and global environment; lessons must be identified and used to
underpin a more coherent and coordinated UN-wide approach to the environmental dimensions of armed
conflicts.February 24, 2023
Conflict and Environment Observatory
Zoï Environment Network
ICO “Environment – People – Law”
Resource & Analysis Center “Society and Environment”
NGO “Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group”
Centre for Environmental Initiatives “Ecoaction”
NGO “Danube-Carpathian Programme”
Razom We Stand