Promoting sustainable development in Modova by defending the right to a clean environment

A clean environment is maintained if only people do not abuse of the resources provided by nature and adopt an respectful attitude towards it. Maintaining a clean environment involves also the conservation, improvement of living conditions and the perpetuation of the ecological balance and ecosystems which human being is a component part of. In these circumstances, the individual is entitled to have access to information sources which present the state of the environment and also each person can appeal to justice if the rules of keeping clean and healthy environment are violated.

In this context, due to the support of the U. S. State Department, through the Democracy Grants Program, Grant Program of the Lithuanian Embassy in Chisinau, the National Environmental Center launched the project "Promoting sustainable development in Moldova, by defending the right to a healthy environment", which aims to strengthen the civil society in order to get an active involvement in the elaboration and implementation of environmental policies and legislation of the Republic of Moldova and  to increase the awareness on basic human environmental  right- the right to a healthy environment.

This project appeared as a result of  The Resolution of Environmental NGOs Forum held in February 2011, the document states a poor cooperation between environmental civil society and the Ministry of Environment, regarding the elaboration and implementation of environmental policies, an almost absent cooperation between NGO sector and weak involvement in the environmental decision making  process because of mediocre knowledge about the real state of things, and the unfamiliarity with involvement mechanisms for improving the situation.

The main objectives of the project aim to raise public opinion awareness on environmental pollution cases; to train civil society representatives on how to defend the right to a clean environment; to strengthen the cooperation between civil society and the Ministry of Environment and other relevant ministries in the field of development and implementing environmental policies and legislation;  to involve the public in commenting on the Environmental Strategy of Moldova for the 2012-2022, which is in the process of development.

The process of Environmental democracy started in Lipnic village (Ocnita rayon) by organizing public hearings on the pollution case of the locality with sewage waters from Ocnita District Hospital. The purpose of these hearings was to bring together decision-making factors in order to find out viable solutions to this serious case of pollution. Thus, on the 8th of June 2011, the National Environmental Center, the Director of the District Ocnita Hospital, the mayor of village Lipnic, Section Chief for Water Resources and Atmospheric Air of the State Ecological Inspectorate and Vice-President of the Association "Hyde Park" met about 45 citizens from Lipnic village, where the above mentioned case, as well as the problem of the quality of water from shallow wells were discussed. An important moment of the meeting was the testing water to nitrate concentration. Thus in 36 cases out of 61 tested, it was found that the concentration of nitrates overcomes the allowable limits. The dialogues regarding the impact of consumption polluted water on health are reflected in the movie "We are what we drink". Afterwards, an appeal that describes the case and builds support for eliminating pollution by waste water treatment station in the village Lipnic, was submitted to the Ministry of Environment. Subsequently, on June 21 2011, it was organized the training "How to defend our right to a healthy environment?”. The target group of the training were the members of the environmental NGOs who are interested in legal issues related to the protection of this right. The purpose is to enhance the involvement of civil society in monitoring the compliance of environmental legislation in their localities and to act appropriate, in order to detect legislation-breaking cases. The results of the training and the movie were presented at the Conference of Aarhus Convention, held in Chisinau during June 27 – July 1 2011.

Thus, being on its first stage of elaboration, the National Environmental Strategy 2012-2022,  the National Environmental Center, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Regional Development, initiated the regional public consultations in Chisinau, Cimislia and Balţi (June 27-29). The goal of these consultation was to examine the draft of the strategy, the general objectives of promoting sustainable development and green economy, to discuss the integration of environmental requirements within socio-economic development of the country at national and local level, setting sector goals and indicators in the environmental field, to discuss the role of local authorities and local partners, public associations, in developing, promoting and implementing the strategy. These events joined together, the representatives of the Regional Development Agencies, District Councils, municipalities, Ecological Inspection and associations which contributed to the improvement of the content of the strategy with their recommendations.

This project is a component part in the process of strengthening the voice of the civil society in Moldova on respecting the right to a healthy environment.