NGO “All-Ukrainian Organization “Green Fund. Overcoming Environmental and Humanitarian Disasters” (hereinafter referred to as the Green Fund) is an independent Ukrainian non-governmental organization specializing in the protection related to environmental and humanitarian issues, having a 6-year history of activities.
Under the auspices of the Green Fund, successful cases of practical implementation of the principles of the Aarhus Convention were implemented in Ukraine, which resulted in a qualitative breakthrough in the legal environment and the introduction of effective mechanisms of obtaining information from state authorities on the state of the environment, public participation in decision-making and access to justice with regard to environmental protection, including the formation of positive judicial practice. Thus, thanks to the online platform created by the Green Fund, any person has an access to a simple and understandable mechanism for submitting Aarhus-related requests on environmental issues and receiving official answers.
The Green Fund team also closely cooperated with colleagues regarding a then-innovative class action on environmental issues, filed from the residents affected by a fire at an oil depot in the village of Kriachky, Vasylkiv district, who received monetary compensation for damages caused. Implementation of such an action became possible thanks to the efforts and legal support of Greco Law Company; they brought the first class action in the history of Ukraine.
The war is not only infrastructural destruction and deaths among the population, it also brings danger to people through the creation of humanitarian, social and environmental crises, both in the areas of active hostilities and shelling, or on the territories they occurred before, and in the areas where hostilities and shelling did not take place. For this very reason, there are threats of mass destruction of flora and fauna, contamination of the ambient air, water resources, forests or lands, as well as other events that can cause an environmental disaster.
The aggressor country and its troops commit ecocide to our nature, polluting the air, water bodies, forests and soils of Ukraine, and all this already results in irreparable changes, which will have a long-term negative effect. This is a violation of the provisions of the Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, which requires belligerent states to protect the environment from “large-scale actions” and to prevent “long-term and serious damages”. It is certain that such crimes must be punished, and the victims must receive appropriate compensation for the damages caused to them. Currently, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, the damages to the Ukrainian environment caused by the armed aggression of the russian federation amounts to more than USD 46 billion.
Since the beginning of hostilities in Donbas in 2014, and especially due to the full-scale invasion since February 2022, a catastrophic damage has been caused to the natural environment of Ukraine, which, in turn, negatively affects the health of the population.
The Green Fund advances the initiative to consolidate the efforts of various experts to solve the following high-priority tasks:
– to record the facts and amounts of the damage caused, in particular, the negative impact on environmental health, and the development of effective measures aimed at protecting the environment;
– to develop and implement comprehensive and large-scale non-governmental programmes for monitoring and supervising the state of environmental health, with the aim of identifying and assessing both the current regional and national state, and specific risk factors, including those caused or intensified in connection with hostilities;
– to assess relevant foreign practices and experience in environmental health issues for their further implementation in Ukraine, update relevant national legislative instruments and procedures, methodological support for interaction between state authorities, as well as allocate this type of damage as compensable;
– to use the mechanism of filing class action for damages caused by the negative impact of the war on the natural environment, human life and health.
The Green Fund, together with the team of Greco Law Company, uses best endeavours to develop mechanisms and approaches for determining the damage and compensating for damage to environment, biological diversity, and health of Ukrainian citizens.
The class action is an effective tool to make russia to compensate for these damages, which will enable victims of russian military aggression to effectively protect their environmental rights and receive compensation for the damages caused.
head of the NGO “All-Ukrainian Organization “Green Fund.
Overcoming Environmental and Humanitarian Disasters”