The Espoo Convention has opened a case file to investigate whether Ukraine complies with international obligations on environmental protection. One of the reasons to question this is due to the case of ‘Svydovets’. This is a huge touristic complex that is planned to be constructed in the Ukrainian Carpathians. The Svydovets project may cause significant transboundary environmental impacts.
Please read: Ski resort or low impact tourism
Huge tourism complex
The plans for Svydovets are ambitious. More than 22 000 visitors per day, around 60 hotels, 120 restaurants, 33 ski lifts, and 230 km of slopes. These huge numbers will have a major impact, or even completely destroy, the biodiversity of the Svydovets mountains.
European Wilderness Society visited the Svydovets area, and continues to contribute to the protection of this unique Carpathian mountain massif. We also constantly inform the audience about the newest affairs on this issue. The latest development is that the Implementation Committee of the Espoo Convention has opened a case file regarding huge tourism complex “Svydovets”.
The Espoo Convention, is the multilateral agreement under the UN Economic Commission for Europe. It sets out the obligations for countries regarding major projects with significant adverse transboundary environmental impacts. And these impacts should be assessed at the early stage of planning.
The source of the Tisza river, a main tributary of the Danube, is located on the territory of the planned tourism complex. Yet, the construction of a sewage network and the planned use of huge amounts of water for artificial snow threaten to change the water cycle of the Tisza river. Furthermore, it may have adverse effects for downstream communities in Hungary and Romania.
On 3 May 2018, Hungary officially declared itself as an affected Party under the Espoo Convention. Until today, Ukraine has not answered Hungary’s written request for detailed information on the project. And this amounts to a violation of Article 3 of the Espoo Convention regarding the notification of potentially affected Parties.
Espoo Committee decision
In November 2018 Bruno Manser Fund, another international supporter of Svydovets’ nature, filed a complaint for the attention of the Espoo Implementation Committee regarding the Svydovets project. Consequently,
Espoo Implementation Committee considered Svydovets issue on its
recent 44th session on 12–15 March 2019 in Geneva.
This Committee requests the Ukrainian government to provide detailed information on the planned Svydovets tourism complex. It also calls to justify the procedure with regard to the environmental impact assessment. In addition, information should be provided by August 09, 2019. Besides, Hungary and Romania will declare whether they have been adequately informed about this large-scale project. A newly published report on this meeting is available.
Other supportive activities
In December 2018, European Wilderness Society supported Free Svydovets with the submission of the Appeal on Svydovets to the Carpathian Convention. Nevertheless, Free Svydovets did not receive official answer from the Carpathian Convention Secretariat yet. However, as it was announced by the representative of the Ministry of Environment and Natural resources of Ukraine, Ukraine is preparing a report on this issue.
Furthermore, the Ministry recently sent an order and substantiation to the Transcarpathian Oblast State Administration to proceed further with the creation of the protected area on Svydovets.
And this should happen as soon as possible, since the ownership of the Svydovets land started to change.
We are still able to save the fascinating Svydovets with its glacier lakes, old-growth forests, clean water and fresh air for our health and for our next generations!