The real experience of the EU for Ukraine: level of the attitude to the environment through the eyes of the NGO e-Ecology members

Within one of the public organization e-Ecology project related to the familiarization with practical experience of the EU in the field of environmental protection at the household level, from 09/26/2015 to 03/10/2015 union members had a introductory trip to the European Union. The Coordinator of the NGO e-Ecology IT tools development and innovative services support Yuri Zaitsev share with us his impressions. Further, direct speech…

Interviewer: Yuri, please tell us how long have you been in the EU, what countries have you visited and what is your general impressions?

Coordinator Yuri Zaitsev: Hi dear colleagues!
I’ve been to the EU for 8 days. During this period I’ve visited Kingdom of the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria. I should remind you it was not the first such trip to the EU countries with the goal to discover their experience in the Environmental protection within the NGO e-Ecology project. Also, this year in May the representatives of the NGO e-Ecology visited beautiful cities Silkeborg and Copenhagen in Denmark.
As for the general impressions of the trip in the context of the environmental protection at the household level in these countries, they are not much different from previous ones that were in the Danish tour – it is almost perfect purity, both in the suburbs and in the central part of the cities – which is impressed me as Kyiv citizen!

AMSTERDAM
The first thing about Amsterdam that I should mention, is that there more channels than in Venice. Water labyrinth channels of Amsterdam can be considered as its main distinguishing and most charming feature. Amsterdam called the “North Venice” – 165 channels and more than 1,200 bridges, about three times more than in Venice. Channels of Amsterdam (in Dutch “grachten”), with longitudinal walkways provide not only the calm to a noisy city but it’s a part of the local culture. Interesting that it’s really hard to find any littered areas on the channel banks. The alley looks nice, they are perfectly clean. The rule “It’s clear not where it’s tiding up but where do not littering” together with a rather severe punishment for its violation working as it should, unlike our domestic experience.

Also I should note about perfect mechanism of household waste: people could not be charged for a long time for the litter utilizing but at some moment you could receive a bill for 200 € to pay to the company that is in time and with a great quality clean up the streets. And in this case “Great” – it is not an exaggeration … In the Kingdom of Netherlands there are several companies – suppliers of these services and when you go into a new apartment you should contact one of these providers in order to conclude an agreement with them for such services.
Every house resident has such agreement. But! You mustn’t pay the subscription fee every month! Instead, the service provider itself calculates the approximate amount you’ll have to pay for their services based on the footage and the number of people living in the apartment. And it works seamlessly…
More interesting – pipe water in the Netherlands is considered one of the cleanest in Europe, so it could be safely drink without fear for your health. Strongly forbidden to play it at your home…

Because I’m the Coordinator of NGO E-Ecology IT tools development and support innovative services, first of all I was interested in the issues of IT instruments used by local people in their everyday life.
It’s should be noted one of such interesting online user-oriented applications called «Buen alarm» which only works in the Dutch App store. The weather there not very predictable so this service that warns you about 15-20 minutes before it’s raining, is just super convenient and even necessary.
Overall, in contrast to Ukraine what I should mention, It’s a state focus on creating a comfortable and safe environment for residents. What we have declared in Article 16 of the Constitution of Ukraine in Amsterdam was implemented on practice. With sad I can only conclude the declarative of this article in the domestic interpretation…
In conclusion I would like to add that Amsterdam, literally called green. Why green? Because in Amsterdam more than 30 parks and gardens that attracts locals and tourists with its lush vegetation. In 2009 the European Commission nominated Amsterdam as one of eight finalists (out of 35 cities that participated in the competition) in the first ever award for environmental innovation – European Green Capital Awards. For Amsterdam, with a growing tourism industry to receive this award was a huge honor. Ok, let’s go to Switzerland.

SWITZERLAND
Based on the experts researches the magazine Forbes made a rating of the cleanest countries in the world. First by the environmental achievements was Switzerland. The Index by the environmental achievements gained 95.5 points out of 100 possible. By eight indicators: water quality, sewage, forest health, restrictions on the pesticides usage, etc., – the state showed 100% result. Base on the environmental conditions average length of life in Switzerland is 81 year. In Ukraine – 62 years…
It seems there are nothing to add but I still have reserved a number of thesis for the report …
From numerous interviews we know that everyone who has visited Switzerland, delighted with the cleanliness but we know that this was achieved through the unique system of waste sorting which is already practiced in many countries. But Switzerland proved quite to the extreme. Almost absurd but it works incredibly good!
Almost everything is sorted. This system does not know exceptions – everybody is required to lay out all the garbage in different containers. This is a full democracy, the implementation of which involves all; and yet it is a complete lack of democracy where individual objections and discussions are not accepted: if you disagree, pay a quite significant penalty. That’s how it works! Because you like to live in cleanliness?

Among the Swiss there is a “legend” (by the way this is a real story) that once a man on his way to work just threw through the car window the household waste in a paper bags. Special “garbage” Police have found him. As the result – the offender was tried and imposed a fine of 6000 francs for the disposal of garbage and cleaning trails, 3,000 francs for violating the law and 530 francs as a ship costs. Together it is 9530 francs for the trick! It seems in our country you could unload the full garbage track exactly near the Environmental inspection office and go away…
In conclusion, I would like to share my own thoughts about the subject: what is the secret of success!? In my opinion the secret is citizens. Swiss people instructed themselves to clean up their own country. Another was only a matter of time. The conclusion is simple – people want – people do! That’s it … Go ahead and next point on our route – Austria.

AUSTRIA
I’m not going to say a lot about Austria, just note that this country called as a standard in the environment sphere. And really, do you know any other country in which every year thousands of people who would like to have a tour to the incineration plant which is positioned in the center of the Austria capital – Vein; where 50% of the capital – the green area; where cyclists feel much more confident against the car drivers?
And now the main argument: international company Mercer every year make a research of quality of life in 223 cities, and the Austrian capital this year led the ranking for the fifth time in a row. One of the most important points in this research – the environment.
Watch by yourself …

Interviewer: Yuri, tell me please, in conclusion, a few words about your vision about how we can change the situation at home in Ukraine?
Coordinator Yuri Zaitsev: it’s difficult question … but I’ll try to formulate my thoughts. As a specialist in IT sphere – volunteer in the area of environmental protection, I prefer to simplify the formula of success so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel … Here is my formula of success = quality formation of social consciousness + effective public-management mechanism. That’s all!

Neither the first nor the second component didn’t have any attention for the 24 years of independence, and before that Soviet Union principles do not provide for individualization …
In other words, we build and build “the common good” just before the elections and in a government paper reports. A live example! My colleagues and I we’ve developed the “Interactive eko-problem register” I would recommend to discover it and compare the number of concerned citizens made records with the number of solved problems in fact …

The picture is very awful and this is a real result! But at the same time, I believe that the governmental environment reports are impressed by their optimism! If you discover these, as we say “from the ceiling” painted figures, it seems that the Switzerland has even worst results …
According to the reports we have solved all these problems … However they are solved only on papers and in the officials heads…

And what about the formation of public opinion related to this? Remind me please – someone, sometime, somewhere saw environmental social advertisement?! On the TV, media and even where …
And even if there exists people who wish absolutely free to do that, ask – how much they should pay for such advertising … No one of them could pay such amount of money. State is indifferent the officials have no time for that, they are building a bright future.

Dear friends! Perhaps my publication is a bit pessimistic but I still believe that together we can overcome that challenge facing us today. I beg you do not be indifferent do not stay aside and to be involved to the environment protection events only together we could protect our home against world landfill and our descendants will be proud of us.

Faithfully yours, country and environment,

The Coordinator of the NGO e-Ecology
IT tools development and innovative services support
Yuri Zaitsev

The NGO e-Ecology head,
PhD in Public Administration
Volodymyr Moroz

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