Swe­den sets eco-trends in Ukraine, pro­motes sus­tain­abil­ity and re­cy­cling

Kyiv Post - - Business - BY DARIA SHULZHENKO [email protected]

Ef­fec­tive waste man­age­ment, sus­tain­able con­sump­tion of goods, re­cy­cling and re­duc­tion of plastic pol­lu­tion has made Swe­den one of the most sus­tain­able coun­tries in the world.

And now, this Nordic coun­try of nearly 10 mil­lion peo­ple, pro­vides Ukraine with a great ex­am­ple to fol­low and sup­ports the lo­cal environmen­tal move­ments.

To raise aware­ness about cli­mate change and to as­sist Ukraine`s pub­lic or­ga­ni­za­tions that op­er­ate in the field of en­vi­ron­ment and energy ef­fi­ciency, the Kyiv-based Em­bassy of Swe­den has al­lo­cated over $7 mil­lion in 2018 in help­ing Ukraine to be­come more en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly.

Apart from the mon­e­tary as­sis­tance, the em­bassy brings pub­lic­ity to the prob­lem of cli­mate change in Ukraine, ar­rang­ing events where peo­ple learn more about re­cy­cling and up­cy­cling, as well as talk about the im­por­tance of sus­tain­able con­sump­tion of goods.

“It is im­por­tant for the whole world as the cli­mate does not have any coun­try bor­ders,” says Linn Här­fast, the head of a sec­tion of eco­nomic and cul­tural af­fairs at the Em­bassy of Swe­den in Ukraine.

Här­fast, who lives in Kyiv since 2017, says there is a need to keep on shar­ing the Swedish ex­pe­ri­ence with Ukraini­ans.

“This (cli­mate change) is the big­gest is­sue of our time, and we can make a change for the fu­ture,” says Här­fast.

“If we do not start to be­have dif­fer­ently, the planet would be not liv­able in the near fu­ture,” she adds.

At­tract­ing pub­lic­ity

Swe­den`s rep­u­ta­tion as one of the most sus­tain­able coun­try be­gan in 1972 when it hosted the first United Na­tion`s con­fer­ence on the en­vi­ron­ment that has led to the cre­ation of the United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme — the cur­rent top global environmen­tal au­thor­ity.

In 2014, the Em­bassy of Swe­den launched a pro­gram to help Ukraine in meet­ing Euro­pean and in­ter­na­tional environmen­tal, cli­mate and energy stan­dards, pro­vid­ing Ukraine with in­vest­ment grants, tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance and sup­port­ing pub­lic or­ga­ni­za­tions. The pro­gram will op­er­ate un­til 2020.

“Swe­den has good knowl­edge, ad­van­tage, and ex­per­tise, and that is why we fo­cus on (en­vi­ron­met),” Här­fast says.

And in March 2019 Swe­den has once again proved to the whole world that it re­ally cares about the en­vi­ron­ment — over a mil­lion stu­dents all over the world joined the school strike for cli­mate, ini­ti­ated by 16-years-old Swedish stu­dent Greta Thun­berg.

“We be­lieve that we have the ex­pe­ri­ence that can be shared with Ukraine,” says Maria Lyp­i­atska, the em­bassy’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer.

Ukraine has also fol­lowed the Swedish ex­am­ple, and on March 15, nearly 50 ac­tivists gath­ered in Kyiv to raise aware­ness about cli­mate change and its ef­fects on the planet, de­mand­ing the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine to im­ple­ment ac­tive cli­mate pol­icy.

Even though Ukraine still has no ef­fec­tive waste man­age­ment, Här­fast says she can see some pos­i­tive changes.

“There are so many ini­tia­tives go­ing on in Ukraine re­gard­ing this (re­cy­cling), like No Waste Ukraine for in­stance,” Här­fast says.

“I think this will make peo­ple re­cy­cle much more, and the trend will take off in Ukraine as well,” she says.

That is why the Swedish em­bassy, to­gether with the Kyiv-based char­ity shop Laska, launched a “Nordic Night Swap” event, at the Kyiv His­tory Mu­seum on April 13, where peo­ple could bring their old clothes to be ex­changed for some new items.

Ac­cord­ing to Lyp­i­atska, they aimed to show peo­ple what sus­tain­able con­sump­tion is, as well as to en­cour­age them to buy fewer clothes and em­pha­sized how the fash­ion in­dus­try pol­lutes the en­vi­ron­ment.

“The idea of up­cy­cling and re­cy­cling is highly pop­u­lar in Swedish so­ci­ety, so we also wanted to draw at­ten­tion to this in Ukraine,” Lyp­i­atska says.

With the help of Kyiv`s or­ga­ni­za­tion No Waste Ukraine, and the pro­ject “Batareiky, Zdavaite­sia” (mean­ing “Bat­ter­ies, give up” in Ukrainian) the em­bassy also in­stalled some waste sort­ing boxes in its of­fice in March, urg­ing its em­ploy­ees to re­cy­cle and sort lit­ter.

New trends

But it is not only about re­cy­cling and sus­tain­abil­ity, as the em­bassy also brings some new trends and habits to the coun­try, such as plog­ging — a com­bi­na­tion of jog­ging and pick­ing up lit­ter.

Founded in Swe­den in 2016, plog­ging has be­come pop­u­lar world­wide only two years af­ter, and on April 6 the em­bassy held its first plog­ging event at Kyiv`s Trukhaniv Island, gath­er­ing nearly 100 par­tic­i­pants.

Lyp­i­atska says they were sur­prised by the num­ber of peo­ple who de­cided to at­tend the plog­ging event.

“Peo­ple start to think about the im­pact their lives have on the en­vi­ron­ment, and in my opin­ion this is great,” Lyp­i­atska said.

Kyiv-based Hanna Aheieva, who at­tended the event, says she heard about plog­ging prior to it but wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence the “au­then­tic Swedish way of plog­ging.”

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Lyp­i­atska, plog­ging in Swe­den dif­fers from the one in Ukraine, as the Nordic coun­try is less pol­luted and the amount of lit­ter on the streets is dif­fer­ent as well.

“We have faced the prob­lem that peo­ple were fo­s­ued on col­lect­ing lit­ter, and not on the run­ning, so at the end, they could no longer carry the heavy bags,” Lyp­i­atska says.

She also says they man­aged to gather a “small truck full of lit­ter,” and also sorted it with the help of No Waste Ukraine.

And even though Ukraine is only at the ini­tial steps to­wards re­cy­cling and sus­tain­able con­sump­tion of goods, Aheieva be­lieves that even such small steps as plog­ging can help im­prove the sit­u­a­tion.

“It is im­por­tant for Ukraini­ans to learn how to clean up af­ter them­selves and how easy it is to pick up garbage while jog­ging, and, there­fore, make the en­vi­ron­ment a lit­tle bit cleaner,” Aheieva says.

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Peo­ple run dur­ing a plog­ging event or­ga­nized by the Em­bassy of Swe­den in Ukraine at Kyiv’s Trukhaniv Island on April 6, 2019. Plog­ging is a new Swedish eco-trend that com­bines jog­ging and pick­ing up lit­ter. (Vik­to­ria Zhukova)

Karolina Jozic (L), a coun­selor at the Em­bassy of Swe­den in Ukraine, and Mar­cus Brand, the em­bassy’s se­nior ad­vi­sor, at­tend a plog­ging event at Trukhaniv Island in Kyiv on April 6, 2019. (Vik­to­ria Zhukova)

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