Summarizing results in the environmental sector with Ina Coșeru, head of the National Environmental Center, within IPN’s series “2020 in Review: Good and Bad Aspects”.
An aspect that marked the environmental sector in 2020 is the initiative of irrigating farmland from groundwater, which was promoted in the election campaign by incumbent President Igor Dodon, amid the criticism leveled by civil society. Ina Coșeru said irrigation with groundwater means salinization of soil and its transformation from fertile soil into saline, unfertile soil. This is disastrous for the country.
The situation in the field of wastewater remained unchanged, without any improvement. Civil society was warned on different occasions that sewage is not treated and seriously pollutes the environment. There are now over 180 non-functional wastewater treatment stations, which pollute groundwater and turn it into sewerage.
The waste management situation also didn’t change. More than 3,000 unauthorized waste dumps are reported annually. To improve the efficient management of waste in the Republic of Moldova, a lending agreement with the European Investment Bank for implementing the national waste management strategy was signed last year, but nothing happened in this sector this year.
Climate change and the drought affected a lot the agricultural sector and trees continued to be cut down illegally. The wooded areas represent 11.3%, which is an indicator that leaves the country without water. Afforestation is one of the measures for adapting to climate change is and the degraded land that is extensive in area should be treated the first.
Among the good actions this year is the drafting of new laws that derive from the Association Agreement between the EU and the Republic of Moldova, like the law on air protection and the law on industrial emissions. But these bills are yet at the stage of debates.
Environmental activists are preparing for the next Eastern Partnership Summit that will be organized next spring. The nongovernmental sector hopes the Government of the Republic of Moldova will be very ambitious and will undertake a part of the objectives and commitments set down by the European Union in the European Green Deal that was adopted last year so as to increase the effectiveness of environmental protection. For the purpose, financing is needed from the state budget, the local public authorities. This can be done through the National Ecological Fund that accumulates €15 million a year. The money should be used primarily for environmental protection projects, not only for building water piping systems or for particular political interests.
There are necessities in the environmental sector in times of a pandemic too. They will exist and will grow and the people’s health will be affected. This year they have discussed a lot the people’s health, but a connection should be made between the state of the environment and the population’s health. The pandemic this year generated even more waste (medical waste, masks, gloves) for which solutions in the Republic of Moldova do not yet exist. Everyone should realize that the management of medical waste should be improved. The pandemic will pass, while the environment will remain with the same or even with more serious problems.
The priorities for 2021 are related to the management of wastewater and waste, stopping of illegal felling of trees, afforestation of the Republic of Moldova, implementation of measures to adapt to climate change, implementation of the Paris Agreement with ambitious national contributions that will remove the climate change pressure exerted by different sectors of the economy. If the country continues to live in conditions of a pandemic, the people should be reasonable and consume more rationally and should lead a healthy lifestyle, while the authorities should not use up all the money available in the state for the health system as there are also other necessities, such as the economy, education, environmental protection, concluded the head of the National Environmental Center.