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New partner municipalities, Fastiv and Nizhyn, host LEAP workshops

ULeap3_copyIn March 2016, two municipalities, Fastiv and Nizhyn, joined the second phase of the “Local Environmental and Energy Action Plans for Sustainable Development, Energy Diversification and Civic Engagement in Communities in Ukraine” (LEAPs Ukraine) project. In the middle of May, the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) hosted workshops to help kick off the development of local environmental and energy action plans in each of the new partner municipalities.

The overall purpose of the LEAPs Ukraine project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of State, is to contribute to the democratisation of Ukrainian society by: ensuring public participation in local decision making; improving local environmental and energy planning and resource management in Ukraine; and establishing effective communication between stakeholders to address and resolve environmental and energy-related problems. The project also helps: to promote communication, understanding and cooperation between stakeholders; to encourage collective responsibility for the environment and energy-related issues; and to enhance the knowledge of local authorities so that they can educate their citizens to be more conscious of the environment and energy efficiency.

The first workshop was held on May 18 in Nizhyn (pop. 75,600), a municipality in North-Eastern Ukraine (Chernigiv oblast). The event’s 41 participants represented various stakeholder groups from the business community, academia, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and local government. Prior to the workshop, the NGO “Ecoltava” conducted a public-opinion poll regarding the environmental situation in Nizhyn. According to 800 respondents, the main environmental concerns are the following: bad quality of roads (20.18 percent), waste collection and utilisation (18.84 percent), the quality of river water (12.54 percent) and bad quality of municipal service (8.36 percent) . During the workshop, the participants contributed their knowledge to the poll results to establish their own list of the top four municipal environmental problems: poor-quality drinking water; solid waste management; high energy dependency and low energy efficiency; and absence of public areas for recreation (green zones).

The second workshop was held on May 19 in Fastiv (pop. 47,937), a municipality in Central Ukraine (Kyiv oblast). One month before the workshop, the NGO “Zrostayche Maybutne” asked 1,023 citizens from 12 districts of Fastiv to identify key environmental problems. Locals expressed the greatest concern about the following: quality of drinking water (31.9 percent), waste collection and utilisation (23.2 percent), bad quality of roads (13.5 percent), quality of river water (7.7 percent), sewerage water (7 percent), and air quality (2.6 percent). The workshop’s 32 participants combined their opinions about with the poll results to obtain the following list of urgent environmental concerns: poor-quality drinking water; solid waste management; high energy dependency and low energy efficiency; absence of areas for recreation (green zones), road infrastructure, and low levels of public environmental awareness.

The LEAP workshops concluded with each municipality establishing a working group and assigning a focal point for developing a local environmental and energy plan this year. The next project steps to be taken were also announced, and working groups in Fastiv and Nizhyn will meet for the first time at the beginning of July 2016.