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the law of energy for sustainable development

EPL’s symposium was held in honor of EPL founder Svitlana Kravchenko

ELAW partners at Environment-People-Law say clean, green, energy independence will protect Ukrainians and fragile resources while boosting national security.  Energy was featured at EPL’s international symposium in Lviv last month: “Human Rights and Environment in a New Ukraine.

Ukraine has been identified as one of the world’s most energy inefficient countries and relies on imports to meet its energy needs.

“We depend on natural gas, coal, and uranium, and import about 40% of our fuel to meet our needs,” says Olena Kravchenko, EPL Executive Director. “Moving beyond fossil fuels should help reduce conflict in eastern Ukraine and will help us build a more sustainable new Ukraine.”

ELAW Staff Attorney Jennifer Gleason gave a presentation at the symposium: “Energy Independence for Ukraine.”  Jen teaches energy law at the University of Oregon School of Law and has worked with ELAW partners around the world to advance green energy.  EPL has called on Jen to help craft a sustainable energy plan for Ukraine.

“I arrived in Ukraine from Germany where our partners at UfU had hosted the 2014 ELAW Annual Meeting,” says Jen.  “Sound policies have helped Germany surpass its goals for obtaining energy from sustainable sources. We are eager to help EPL draw on this experience. The key will be getting citizens to engage in improving energy efficiency. “

We will keep you informed of ELAW’s work answering EPL’s call for help to reduce Ukraine’s dependence on energy imports, while improving energy efficiency and promoting generation of electricity from sustainable sources.

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director
@keenanmaggie

Related news:
Status of Crimea’s Natural Reserves Uncertain

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Status of Crimea’s Natural Reserves Uncertain

Eugene, OR, August 20, 2014 — Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide partners in Ukraine are concerned about the fate of protected natural areas in Crimea.  “The status of Charivna Havan National Park, Yalta Mountain Forest Reserve, Cape Martyan Reserve, and three other natural reserves are uncertain,” says Olena Kravchenko, Executive Director of Environment-People-Law, based in Lviv, Ukraine.

Olena explains:

EPL

“The situation is complicated.  These are lands owned by Ukraine, which has the right and obligation to protect them, but we keep receiving reports that rich Russians are turning parts of these parks and reserves into private estates.  However, there is no possibility to handle these territories properly at present because of Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea.”

Olena and her staff at EPL have worked for years to protect the environment through law in Ukraine.  EPL was founded by the late Professor Svitlana Kravchenko, a world expert on human rights and the environment.  EPL has a staff of 13.

While worried about the situation in Crimea, EPL recently celebrated a court order returning to public use similar state-owned, protected lands near Kyiv that the country’s ex-President Viktor Yanukovych had closed off for his private hunting.

“This is one of the first decisions in Ukraine that returns illegally expropriated state property to the public,” says Olena.  “Recreation areas must be accessible by the public and not passed to private hands.”

For more information, contact:

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide
maggie[at]elaw.org
@keenanmaggie

Smith Rock State Park, Oregon

Smith Rock State Park, Oregon

I am currently in Eugene on an ELAW Fellowship and nearing the end of my term at the University of Oregon’s American English Institute (AEI). I am a lawyer and have worked at Environment-People-Law (EPL) in Ukraine since 2007.

Thanks to ELAW, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, and AEI, I am able to study English while collaborating on my work with ELAW staff. At EPL we provide legal support to protect human rights and the environment. My work focuses on access to information, climate change, forests, waterways, biodiversity, and protected areas.

English proficiency is important to me. It allows me to collaborate on my work with ELAW and use legal and scientific resources that are not available in Ukrainian or Russian.

ua.2013.Nataliya.Horodetska and Heidi

Working with ELAW Staff Scientist Heidi Weiskel

One problem I am working on is the proposed construction of hundreds of small hydropower plants in the Carpathian Mountains. These projects would be dangerous for rivers, fish, and the forest, and violate the rights of local people. Here in Eugene, I have met weekly with ELAW staff and received their professional consultation on this problem.

My Intensive English Program at AEI is well organized and interesting. The teachers are highly qualified, including Peggy Dame, Lydia Shen, and Marko Mwipopo, who supervised my elective course.

American English Institute gathering

American English Institute gathering

Outside of class, AEI has weekly events to help students improve their English, including meeting with conversation partners, coffee hours, and volunteer work. My conversation partner is Brandon, a University of Oregon political science student who is thinking about law school and may one day volunteer at ELAW. While in Eugene, I’ve had the opportunity to do many things.

When I first arrived, I traveled with Professor John Bonine’s LLM students to Portland where we met with Columbia Riverkeeper, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, and visited Smith Rock State Park. I later attended the graduation ceremony for these LLM students.

I have enjoyed attending Saturday Market and the Ukrainian Catholic Church. I toured Greenhill Humane Society, watched American football, and woke to raccoons playing in the trees outside my window.

In my last two weeks, in addition to my English studies and work with ELAW staff, I will visit local courts, learn more about recycling processes, and possibly travel to Seattle or Portland.

Thank you ELAW for hosting me, and to everyone who helped while I was here.

Nataliya Horodetska
ELAW Fellow

ELAW advocates from around the world are fighting to hold governments accountable for including legally required information on official websites.

EPL Staff, Liza Aleksyeyeva (far right)

Recently, Ukraine’s Environment-People-Law (EPL) advocate Liza Aleksyeyeva wrote to ELAW, “I am happy to share with you the following news. On August the 30th, District Administrative Court of the city of Kyiv ruled on the case brought by Environment-People-Law against the Ministry of Environmental Protection of Ukraine regarding ministerial official web-page. In the lawsuit… EPL claimed that the absence of information on main responsibilities of the departments of the Ministry, on multilateral environmental agreements, reports on their implementation and enforcement, and the state of realization of environmental programs is illegal. The court declared defendants’ actions to be illegal and ordered the Ministry to change its webpage in order to comply with the law. Furthermore, the court ordered the Ministry to report to the court within one month after the decision becomes effective as to what they have done to execute the decision.”

In their arguments to the court EPL relied upon access to information principles established in the “Aarhus Convention” (officially, the “UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters”) to which Ukraine is a signatory.

EPL also drew the court’s attention to the lack of electronic access to national assessments on the state of the environment, nor to any lists or registers of polluters, registers of permitting decisions and many others.

ELAW partners around the world responded with congratulations and descriptions of similar problems in their own countries.

One advocate from the Philippines wrote, “What an inspired case and a nice victory!! We too have so many laws requiring the production of so many of these plans and annual status reports and they are never on websites. One just has to assume they don’t have a plan as required by law, or if they do, they don’t want anyone to measure them against the plan.”

Another from Russia wrote, “This is very important victory for promotion of the Aarhus principles especially in the EECCA countries!”

Carla Garcia Zendejas, an ELAW partner in Mexico, shared the positive outcome of her efforts to require accountability from the Mexican government for placing required information on its websites:

“This is a marvelous victory!! I should share some of our experience in Mexico with the government’s mandatory requirement for publication of a broad list of information online. I have been part of efforts in the state of Baja California to push for the proper implementation of the municipal and state websites by carrying out citizen monitoring and then grading of the government’s work. Which is then presented statewide in press conferences –the 9th was held last August. (This all comes after the evolution of our Transparency Law and the inclusion of language pertaining to electronic and digital access to public information in our Constitution as well.)

It has only been through this public pressure and systematic monitoring of each of their mandatory responsibilities to present: employee names, assignments, salaries, budgets, rules, memos, meeting minutes, role call, voting history, agreements, programs, bidding processes, annual reports, financial reports, income, expenses, suppliers, and many other data that the websites have improved.

I congratulate your efforts and this great victory and hope that before long you may see needed changes!”

These victories in Ukraine and Mexico are just a sample of the important work ELAW partners are doing around the world to ensure access to the information we need to make informed decisions about our environment.

Glenn Gillis
ELAW IT Manager


Olena Kravchenko in 1986

Olena Kravchenko in 1986

Twenty-three years ago today, a steam explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant sent a plume of radioactivity over the western Soviet Union, Europe, and the eastern U.S. Large areas in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia were badly contaminated.

Just five days later, unaware of the danger, ELAW partner Olena Kravchenko marched with hundreds of children in a May Day parade near Kyiv. She marched again on May 9, to celebrate a Soviet victory in World War II. The Soviet government did nothing to prevent these large gatherings so close — in both time and distance — to the contamination site.

“Many in my generation have died of thyroid cancer. We had no idea there was any danger,” she says.

The Soviet government didn’t even admit there had been an accident until radiation set off alarms in Sweden. Residents of Prypiat, site of the reactor, were evacuated but no one else was given cause for alarm. In late May, Olena’s father traveled to Prypiat to organize a train to rescue 100 children.

Olena is making sure that Ukraine never again pays the high price of state secrecy. Olena now works at Environment-People-Law, Ukraine’s leading public interest environmental law organization. She is Editor of EPL’s journal and helps teach communities how to access environmental information.

Olena traveled to Eugene for the ELAW Annual Meeting in February and inspired colleagues from around the world with her dedication to making the planet safe.

Thank you Olena!

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director

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