On February 28 – March 3, 2017, 56th meeting of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee took place in Geneva. This session focused on progress achieved by relevant parties in implementing so called non-compliance decisions by the Meeting of the Parties, including in relation to Ukraine.
The discussion included a report by the committee member-rapporteur, interventions by representatives of the government and the public (the latter two participated via audio conferencing). The Committee decided to postpone the deadline for final reporting for Ukraine till Aril 1, 2017. The beginning of April was chosen for practical reasons – this is the latest time when the Committee can take into account steps taken by Ukraine since preparation of draft decisions to the Meeting of the Parties (MOP) in September is subject to timing limitations. At this stage, the Committee is satisfied with steps taken in relation to access to environmental information, but insists on adoption of a law on environmental impact assessment as a framework for public participation in decision-making. The representative of the Ministry of Environment informed about Ministry’s expectations regarding re-consideration of the draft law on EIA by the Parliament by the end of March. The representative of the public also expressed positive forecasts for this and said she agrees with Committee’s position that unless the law is adopted, the MOP should consider suspending special rights and privileges of Ukraine under the Convention.
The decision on Ukraine’s non-compliance with the Aarhus Convention, establishing environmental rights for citizens, has a long history back to 2003, when Ukraine started to build a canal to connect Danube and Black Sea. Key recommendation to Ukraine is to fill systemic gaps in the legislation in relation to access to environmental information and public participation in environmental decision-making.