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Economic Aspects | Natural Resource Aspects | Institutional Aspects | Social Aspects |Ukraine

NATURAL RESOURCE ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN UKRAINE

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  • Agriculture
  • Atmosphere
  • Biodiversity
  • Desertification and Drought
  • Energy
  • Forests
  • Freshwater
  • Land Management
  • Mountains
  • Oceans and Coastal Areas
  • Toxic Chemicals
  • Waste and Hazardous Materials

    AGRICULTURE

    In Ukraine, the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for sustainable agriculture. The Ministry of Economy and Regional (Local) Governments supervises rural development. The Government has created and adopted the National Programme of Development of Agricultural and Industrial Production and Rural Development for the period of 1996 to 2005; and the Programme of Development of Land Use.

    Agricultural land occupies 70% of the total national area; meaning that this part of the environment is under regular anthropogenic pressure. Improper storage and overuse of fertilizers and toxic chemicals are common problems. In 1992, 71,000 tons of pesticides were applied in Ukraine for an average of 2.2 kg/ ha. In 1994, the rate of pesticide application was 1.6 kg/ha of arable land. This compares to the world average of 0.5 kg/ha. Soil erosion remains a problem with 34% of the agricultural land being eroded by water and wind. Large investments are required for land reclamation; this represents a problem given the lack of resources.

    This information was provided by the Government of Ukraine to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

    For information on soil contaimination, click here.
    For information on soil protection, click here.
    To access the FAOSTAT Data Base for information by country, item, element and year, click here.
    For country reports on Plant Genetic Resources, click here.
    Click here to link to the Biosafety Information Network and Advisory Service (BINAS), a service of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which monitors global developments in regulatory issues in biotechnology.
    Click here to link to Country and Sub-regional Information on Plant Genetic Resources of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
    Click here to go to Web Site of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which includes information on the Codex Alimentarius and the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.
    Click here to access the Web Site of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
    Click here to access the sixteen international agricultural research centers that are members of the CGIAR.

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    ATMOSPHERE

    Ukraine signed and ratified the Montreal Protocol (1987) in 1988, while the London Amendment (1990) was signed in 1990 and ratified in 1996. The Copenhagen Amendment (1992) was signed in 1992. The latest report to the Montreal Protocol Secretariat from Ukraine was prepared in 1996. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed in 1992 and ratified in 1996; with the first report submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat in 1997. Ukraine acceded to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Transboundary Atmospheric Pollution in 1987.

    The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety, which is primarily responsible for the protection of the atmosphere, acts as the National Coordinating Mechanism for Sustainable Development. As a result of Agenda 21, a law on Atmospheric Air Protection was reviewed and partly revised on 16 October 1992. In order to phase-out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone depleting substances, a national programme to halt production and consumption of these substances has been developed.

    A steady decline in the amounts of toxic materials being discharged into the air has been observed over the last few years. This, however, is a result of the recent economic depression, and the decrease in production and transportation services. At the same time, 3286 industries have increased emissions of pollutants into the air to a total of 1 million tons. The main sources of air pollution are thermal electric power stations and the metallurgical industry that emit 32% and 38% respectively of the total pollution caused by stationary sources. Almost 70% of the electrical power is obtained by burning fossil fuel at thermal power stations. This pollution results from the use of outdated technology and the total absence of facilities for the recovery of sulphur and nitrogen oxides.

    The main source of pollution in large cities is road traffic (75-90% of pollutants). The chemical industry also adds to air pollution by emitting sulphur anhydride, oxides of nitrogen, hydrocarbons, and various volatile organic compounds. In addition, oil refineries also pollute underground waters. No substantial progress has been achieved in pollution control by the machine-building industry. Although its share in the total emissions of pollutants is relatively small, the specific contaminants are much more hazardous to health. For instance, the Dniprovsky Electrode Factory in Zaporizhzhya is responsible for only 3.5% of the total amount of air pollution. However, 80% of the pollutants are carcinogenic and are ranked as highly dangerous. Cement production continues to be the most polluting of the buildings materials industry, and its enterprises are doing the least in terms of implementing environmental protection measures.

    National capacity for the observation and assessment of air pollution is considered poor, and a national early detection system does not exist. Capacities for atmospheric research and information exchange are poor. However, Ukraine does participate in the Global Climate Observing System at the national level. For this purpose, 47 national observation stations were installed prior to 1990.

    The Government has not contributed towards ongoing efforts under the Montreal Protocol and its implementing mechanisms due to financial constraints. Ukraine received US$175,000 of bilateral support from the Danish Agency of Environmental Protection in 1995/96.

    The Government has made efforts, within the framework of the United Nations and its European regional commission, to convene regional conferences on transport and the environment, and has adopted regulations to encourage industry to develop safe technologies. United Nations bodies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have participated in efforts to strengthen the scientific basis for decision-making, and intergovernmental organizations have participated in efforts to prevent stratospheric ozone depletion.

    This information was provided by the Government of Ukraine to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

    For information on sources of air pollution, click here.
    For information on the ozone layer over Ukraine, click here.
    For information on emissions, click here.
    For information on air quality in Ukraine, click here.
    Click here for national information from the Web Site of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
    For the access to the Web Site of the Ozone Secretariat, click here:

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    BIODIVERSITY

    In Ukraine, the Convention on Biological Diversity was signed in 1992 and ratified in 1994. The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety is responsible for the conservation of biological diversity. The Presidential decrees on the Conservation and Development of the Natural Reserve Fund of Ukraine and on the Reservation of Virgin Land (1993) were to a large extent a response to an active campaign launched by NGOs such as the National Ecological Center of Ukraine. In addition, the Law on Fauna was passed in 1993.

    The area of natural reserves should reach 5% of the national territory by the year 2000, according to the Government's new programme of activity. To date, 6,450 protected areas have been established totalling 1,665 thousand ha (2.8% of the country's territory compared to over 10% in many western countries). This includes 15 nature reserves and 5 national parks. Nature reserves in Ukraine protect about 80% of the species of natural flora, but the existing network is still insufficient to protect all the genetic values of plant and animal wildlife, and the diversity of ecosystems.

    The establishment of additional natural preserves is underway. The extension of the system was reaffirmed as a state priority through the decree On the Conservation and Development of the Natural Reserve Fund of Ukraine. Nevertheless, the status of certain landscapes of profound biodiversity, historical, cultural, and recreational interest remains unclear.

    This information was provided by the Government of Ukraine to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

    For information on protected areas, click here.
    For information on threatened species, click here.
    For access to the Web Site of the Convention on Biological Diversity, click here.
    For access to the Web Site of the CITES Convention, click here:
    For the Web Site of the CMS Convention, click here:
    For the Web Site of the Convention on the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage, click here:
    For the country-by-country, Man in the Biosphere On-Line Query System, click here:
    Click here to link to the Biosafety Information Network and Advisory Service (BINAS), a service of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which monitors global developments in regulatory issues in biotechnology.
    Click here to go to the Web Site of UNEP's International Register on Biosafety.
    Click here for the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Biosafety WebPages

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    DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT

    No information available.

    For access to the Web Site of the Convention on Desertification and Drought, click here.

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    ENERGY

    A Law on Energy Saving has been adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament. The State Committee on Energy Saving was created in 1995, and the State's programme of Energy Saving is in the process of being approved by government.

    In Ukraine, one of the main sources of air pollution is thermal electric power stations that emit 32% of the total pollution caused by stationary sources. Almost 70 % of the electrical power is obtained by burning fossil fuel at thermal power stations. This pollution problem results from the use of outdated technology and the total absence of facilities for the recovery of sulphur and nitrogen oxides.

    This information was provided by the Government of Ukraine to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

    For information on energy in Ukraine, click here.

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    FORESTS

    The Ministries of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety, Forestry, and Agriculture are in charge of forest resource use and protection in Ukraine. The Government has developed a Programme of Development of Forests and Forest Industry Complexes to the year 2015 to improve forest resources management and protection. A Forestry Code was established in 1994.

    Forests cover 14.3% of Ukraine's territory. The overall resources of wood are estimated to be 1.3 billion cubic meters while the annual demand from the national economy is 40 million cubic meters.

    The Carpathians, covering only 4% of the country's territory, produce a third of the forest resources of Ukraine. Forest areas occupy 53.5% of this region. They have global significance and act as lungs for the densely populated and highly urbanized European continent where they are located. These forests, however, are unfortunately endangered by timber-cutting, soil erosion, destruction of natural vegetation, overgrazing, chemical contamination and acid rain. The main approaches to the improvement of the ecological condition of the Carpathians include a complex of measures including biodiversity conservation and afforestation.

    This information was provided by the Government of Ukraine to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

    For information on forest resources, click here.
    For information on reforestation, click here.

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    FRESHWATER

    The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety of Ukraine, and the State Committee on Water Resources are the bodies mainly responsible for freshwater resources. The law on the Protection of the Natural Environment was adopted in 1991. It is the main law regulating environmental protection. A new Water Code of Ukraine was approved in 1995.

    In 1992, the President of Ukraine signed a decree outlining measures that should be undertaken to improve the ecological condition of the Dnipro river and its catchment area. Under this decree an Extraordinary Committee was organized to address the problem. In 1996, a special programme for the improvement of the quality of the waters of the Dnipro river basin and its drinking water was adopted by Parliament.

    There are more than 22,000 rivers with a total length of over 170,000 km in Ukraine. They belong to the catchment areas of the Black, Azov, and Baltic seas. Rivers and reservoirs are polluted mainly by organic compounds (mostly from domestic wastewater), nitrogenous compounds, heavy metals (from energy production), phenols, and petroleum products (from housing and communal services and the ferrous metal industry). The most heavily polluted rivers include the Zakhidny Bug and the Siversky Dinets, and those in the area of the Azov Sea.

    The capacity and effectiveness of water purification facilities cannot meet the increasing demand for wastewater treatment. In some cases this leads to the accidental discharge of polluted wastewater to the environment. Only 45% of the waste water discharged into the Dnipro River, for example, is treated. This river is very significant to the country: its surface and underground resources supply water to two-thirds of the Ukrainian population. Its ecosystem has been destroyed to a great extent due to the intensive consumption of water; and the discharge of pollutants from industries, agriculture, and sewage. This situation has been aggravated by the serious contamination from long-living radionuclides following the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986. The result is eutrophication of water-bodies, decline of fish stocks, heavily polluted water and river sediments (toxic chemicals, heavy metals, etc.), and unsatisfactory water quality for industrial, agricultural, and domestic use. In addition, the pollution of underground water represents a growing problem.

    Society and science are not yet fully aware of the consequences of transforming the huge Dnipro River into a cascade of fairly shallow reservoirs. It would be hard to find another place where a river ecosystem has been destroyed to such an extent. Although this transformation was accomplished for economic reasons, the benefits now seem rather vague, while it is clear that the environment has suffered seriously. The Dnipro Basin can only be restored if a cooperative international programme (including Russia and Belarus) is implemented for its ecological rehabilitation.

    Phosphates received from transboundary rivers originate mostly from Romania. Other sources include Russia and Belarus. Close cooperation with these neighbouring countries needs to be promoted and enhanced.

    In 1992 Ukraine joined the International Environmental Programme for the Danube River Basin and Catchment Area which is financially supported by Central European Countries (CEC) and by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Subsequently in 1993, the Ministry of Environmental Protection of Ukraine and the Extraordinary Committee on Ecological Problems of the Dnipro river signed a protocol with the International Centre for Development and Research (Canada) to improve the ecological state of the Dnipro river. Under this protocol, financial support is expected from the Canadian government for this intergovernmental project.

    This information was provided by the Government of Ukraine to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

    For information on sources of water pollution, click here.
    For information on drinking water, click here.
    For information on water use, click here.
    For information on water quality, click here.
    For information on waste water treatment, click here.

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    LAND MANAGEMENT

    In Ukraine, the State Committee of City Building and Architecture, the Ministry of Agriculture, the State Committee of Land Resources, and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety supervise the planning and management of land resources. The Government has developed and started to implement the Programme (Conception) of Development of Land Use, the State and Regional Programmes of Land Protection from Water and Wind Erosion, and the State Programme of Natural Environment Protection and Rational Use of Natural Resources. A Land Code was established in 1992.

    Ukraine has the richest and most fertile land in Europe. Of the 60.36 million ha of total land resources, 69.4% is agricultural land, 14.3% is forest land, and 2.4% is under housing. Anthropogenic and technological environmental impacts have been steadily growing and have reached critical limits in specific areas, leading to soil degradation.

    This information was provided by the Government of Ukraine to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

    For information on land use, click here.
    For information on the state of the soil, click here.
    For information on contamination of soils, click here.

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    MOUNTAINS

    The Ministry of Economy and Regional (Local) Governments, and the National Academy of Sciences are primarily responsible for sustainable mountain development. A special law On the Status of Mountain Human Settlements was adopted in 1995 to facilitate sustainable mountain development.

    The goal of the Ukranian Government is to promote the Carpathian Mountains as a recreation zone for the population of Central and Eastern Europe. One of the ways in which this will be achieved is through the introduction of environmentally friendly technologies to reduce the industrial impact on the region. International cooperation from all Carpathian countries is very important, and some results from this cooperation have already been achieved. In 1993, a Global Environment Facility (GEF) financed project Conservation of Biodiversity in the Carpathians was signed.

    This information was provided by the Government of Ukraine to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

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    OCEANS AND COASTAL AREAS

    The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea was signed by Ukraine in 1995. In addition, Ukraine has signed and enforces the Convention on the High Seas and the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter.

    The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety, as the Ministry responsible for Sustainable Development, is the agency mainly accountable for ensuring integrated planning and implementation for oceans and coastal areas. The national system of natural resources management is primarily based on a sectoral approach. Inter-sectoral centres for decision-making are required to achieve an integrated approach.

    Recommendations from the Code of Conduct of Responsible Fishing will be included in a new law on fishing. The Government plans to integrate its national policy on oceans into the National Sustainable Development Strategy. It also plans to integrate a coastal area management programme into the strategy. Existing coastal zone or area management plans do not encompass all marine activities within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) of all investment projects are now required, and a fee for natural resources use has been introduced.

    Major groups participate in an advisory capacity towards national processes at national and local levels. There is ad hoc participation to private sector processes by, for example, small-scale fishermen and indigenous people. The Government develops and participates in capacity-building and training programmes to foster the sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources.

    The state of the Black and Azov seas and their coastal environment has improved due to a decrease of both production and sea pollution. Nevertheless, substantial pollution has caused hydrological changes influencing coastal areas. The discharge of pesticides and highly mineralized drainage water promotes sedimentation and the degradation of sea inlets and bays. Fish stocks have declined remarkably over the last five years.

    The ecological condition of the Azov and Black seas can only be further improved if environmental improvements occur in the catchment areas of their rivers. A national programme focusing on ecological improvement of the Dnipro river, including measures in the Donetsk-Dnipro region, are the main activities to date.

    The Government suggests the formation of an investment infrastructure under market economy conditions to identify the steps requiring international cooperation for the prevention, reduction, and control of marine environment degradation from land-based activities. The Government also emphasizes the need for international cooperation to implement an effective monitoring system. Ukraine actively participates in the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Black Sea Environmental Programme. The country also promotes and supports the integration of projects planned and implemented by UN system organizations. The Government does not participate in the development of a Global Ocean Observing System.

    This information was provided by the Government of Ukraine to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

    For information on fish catches, click here.
    To access the Web Site of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, click here:

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    TOXIC CHEMICALS

    The Ministries of Environmental Protection and Health exercise control over the use of toxic chemicals. These ministries establish standards, use limitations, and regulations.

    There are serious problems and difficulties in the management of toxic chemicals. The treatment and storage of highly toxic wastes has not yet been solved in Ukraine. Approximately 2.7 million tons, 3.2 millions tons, 1.3 million tons, and 1.7 million tons of toxic chemicals have been released into the environment in the Donetsk region, the Dnipropetrovsk region, the Kirovograd region, and the Mykolayiv region respectively.

    Too many toxic chemicals are still being used in Ukraine. Cooperative farms and the "Silhospkhimiya" association are storing 12.7 million kg of 150 different kinds of pesticides that are now prohibited because of their extreme toxicity.

    This information was provided by the Government of Ukraine to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

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    WASTE AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS

    Solid Waste and Sanitation

    The State Committee of Settlements and Utility Affairs supervises the management of solid wastes and sewage waters in Ukraine. A special law on wastes will be developed in 1997.

    Every year the economy of Ukraine consumes 1.3-1.5 billion tons of natural materials (25-29 tons per capita). Most of these materials are returned to the environment as industrial and consumer wastes. Rough estimates show that if this trend continues, the quantity of waste will reach 25-30 billion cubic metres by the year 2000.

    In 1992, industrial waste originated primarily from fuel production enterprises and energy plants (13.8 million tons of ashes and slag), and coal mining and coal treatment enterprises (99.6 million tons). Significant amounts of waste also come from other mining industries, ore-dressing facilities, chemical works, and the military industry. Seventeen billion tons of various waste is dumped in Ukraine and stored in an area occupying 53 thousand ha (or approximately 0.09% of the total area of the country). Recycling this waste could be an important source of raw materials for industry and serve as a basis for future sustainable development.

    The proportion of repeated use of materials to total consumption of raw materials in Ukraine is steadily rising and reached 20% in 1992. This figure has recently decreased due to the general downturn in the Ukrainian economy.

    This information was provided by the Government of Ukraine to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

    For information on solid waste, click here.
    For information on generation of waste, click here.

    Hazardous Waste

    A special procedure for the implementation of the Basel Convention will be developed in 1997 according to the Programme of Activity of the Ukrainian Government. The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety (MEPNS) and its State Ecological Inspection have control over the use of hazardous wastes.

    In 1992-93, foreign companies made further attempts to bring raw materials into Ukraine that turned out to be hazardous wastes difficult or expensive to treat elsewhere. This was possible due to the deficiencies of the Border and Customs Codes of Ukraine and the absence of regulations prohibiting the importation of such materials to Ukraine.

    Given this situation, the MEPNS promoted a resolution for the development of a List of Chemicals and Materials regarded as hazardous waste which would be prohibited from importation into Ukraine. This list was adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers in 1993. Guidelines for the importation of recycled materials and waste that can be used in Ukraine have also been issued. In addition, the Government adopted a decree on Procedure for Issuing Permits for Import to Ukraine and Transit Across its Territory of Waste Materials (Secondary Raw Materials) in 1994. Environmental services were organized at the country's borders in 1996.

    This information was provided by the Government of Ukraine to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

    For information on soil contaimination, click here.
    For direct link to the Web Site of the Basel Convention, click here:

    Radioactive Waste

    Ukraine has signed the Convention on Urgent Warning in the Case of a Nuclear Accident and the Convention on Help in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or an Emergency Situation. The country passed the Law on the Use of Nuclear Energy and Radiation Safety in 1995. The Ministries of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety, and Emergency Situations are responsible for the radioactive waste problem. A number of regulations have been recently adopted. The system of regulation on the management and radioactive wastes will be further developed in 1997-1998.

    Storage of radioactive waste (RAW) and the use of radioactive material is a pressing problem in Ukraine. The country is still dealing with the consequences of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident. In 1992, a detailed survey of the radiation levels in the Ukraine was undertaken. Contaminated territories cover an area of 41,000 square km (equal to the area of a country like the Netherlands) containing a population of 2.5 million people. Today the radiological situation of the area is determined by such long-living radionuclides as cesium 137, strontium 90, isotopes of plutonium and americium. Such a mixture is extremely hazardous due to various individual impacts and the transfer to the human organism.

    In 1986, an entombment was built over the destroyed Chernobyl power unit, isolating the remains of the radioactive material (calculated at 20 million Ci of radioactivity) from the outside environment. This shelter was always intended as a temporary measure, and in 1992 Cabinet adopted a resolution for a competition to ensure the ecological safety of the construction. The problem is so complicated and severe that no particular project could provide an overall solution. In 1993, a joint French, German and Ukrainian project "Resolution" emerged with some solutions. The next stage is to determine who will carry out the work.

    In addition to Chernobyl, there are more than one thousand sources of radiation applied for industrial, agricultural, medical and scientific purposes. Radioactive materials are also used by the military. More than 70,000 cubic metres of RAW are dumped or stored by the uranium and mining processing industries. The latter are a substantial source of radioactive pollution .

    As an independent state, Ukraine now faces the problem of treating used nuclear fuel (among the former Soviet republics only Russia has the proper facilities for recycling). At present the used fuel is stored in temporary reservoirs at nuclear power plants, but many of these reservoirs are almost completely full. This is an extremely serious problem which must be dealt with soon.

    This information was provided by the Government of Ukraine to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

    For information on caesium deposition after Chernoybl, click here.
    For information on nuclear power plants, click here.


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