The most effective way to solve struggles in a conflict world is to start dialogues between all sides. It is always a difficult and time-consuming process, but in the long run it allows consensus to be reached.
Recently, the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation launched an extremely important Dialogues project. With the participation of professional facilitators (moderators), participants discuss various aspects of the environmental situation in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, such as flooding of mines, deterioration of soils, mine gas emissions, etc.
So far, six dialogues have taken place, and each such meeting helps people on both sides of the line not only to listen but also to hear each other to solve common problems.
«I am convinced that only inclusive dialogue can lead to lasting peace. Involving as many parties as possible in the reconciliation process will allow hearing and taking into account the views of people with different and even polar views on the situation, which is essential for stable social relations»,– said project coordinator at Right to Protection CF Natalia Proskurenko.
Apart from the formal agreements, which are conducted with the participation of world political players, there are a number of other dialogue initiatives aimed at finding a solution to the situation with the conflict in Donbas. After all, being in their information bubble, politicians sometimes lose touch with ordinary people and do not feel their needs, and pressing issues often disappear from the agenda of high-level negotiations. Informal peacekeeping dialogues exist to create links between citizens with varying degrees of influence on the processes taking place in the country.
Environmental problems are almost always postponed. If left without attention those can have very tangible consequences. Such are the risks in the conflict-affected Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Closing and flooding of mines in the territory controlled and not controlled by the government of Ukraine can pose a serious danger to water bodies, soils and air, as well as to the health of local residents.
The participants of our dialogue project who are the experts in the field of ecology are trying to develop recommendations for joint action on both sides of the line of demarcation, in order to prevent the environmental catastrophe.
During the dialogues, environmental experts noted:
«For a long time, the development of our country has been characterized by unbalanced consumption of natural resources and with low priority of environmental issues. The root cause of Ukraine’s problems is the predominance of energy and resource intensive industries that have a negative impact on the environment. Coal mining regions of Ukraine have a high rate of industrial facilities: mining and processing, metallurgy, energy, chemicals, etc. These areas are also the most densely populated. Approximately 20% of the country’s population lives in the areas where mining operations are carried out, and the volume of housing construction in recent years has reached 30%. Intensive and long-term use of mineral resources in the coal basins of Ukraine has led to significant changes in the environment. The main factors of influence are: high concentration of mining companies in a small area, high level of production and lack of funding. The massive and almost simultaneous closure of coal mines and the destruction of the relevant infrastructure associated with the conflict have significantly upset the ecological balance, in turn leading to dangerous environmental changes in an area of almost 30,000 km2. The main technical and environmental problems are: destruction of the underlying surface, soils and vegetation as a result of explosions and the use of military equipment; flooding of mines and the surrounding area and the possibility of outflow of mineralized mine water to the surface with the formation of flooded areas; groundwater pollution; almost complete cessation of treatment facilities and damage to radioactive and toxic waste storage facilities; pollution of the atmosphere and lithosphere by chemical products, which are formed as a result of ammunition explosions. As a result of the ongoing conflict in large areas of Eastern Ukraine, there is no practical possibility of conducting ecological monitoring of techno-ecosystems of industrial complexes of coal mining enterprises. Now Donbas is an anomalous region with high chance of mass flooding of the mines (up to 70%), which accelerated with the beginning of the armed conflict in 2014, is in a state of regional mostly uncontrolled rise of groundwater levels, subsidence and deterioration of environmental parameters».