Ukraine: Nature During Wartime

EPL Executive Director Olena Kravchenko, Kamianska Sich National Nature Park, October 2023.

We are humbled to report that our partners at Environment People Law (EPL) in Ukraine continue their courageous work to protect communities and the environment.

In October, EPL Executive Director Olena Kravchenko and members of her team were taking soil samples from bomb craters in Kamianska Sich National Nature Park when they heard drones approaching. They chose to remain, at risk of being bombed.

“Nature is the silent victim in Ukraine, and we have to be the voice of this nature,” says Olena in an interview published last week in Eugene Weekly.

Kamianska Sich was occupied by Russian troops in October and November 2022 then suffered further devastation when the Khakhovka Dam was destroyed in June 2023.

Olena’s team is analyzing the impact of war on Ukraine’s environment and making the case that the Russian assault should be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court as well as in Ukrainian courts, including as ecocide under Article 441 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code.

Last week, EPL attorney Solomiia Baran and EPL scientist and 2022 ELAW Fellow Kateryna Polianska were in New York City to participate in an event held alongside the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute, hosted by Open Society Foundations.

Solomiia and Kateryna helped make the case that the Rome Statute – which established the International Criminal Court for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression – should prosecute Russia for crimes against nature.

Solomiia and Kateryna were joined by representatives of the Institute for Environmental Security, International Renaissance Foundation, and Parliamentarians for Global Actions, as well as the Adviser to the Ukraine General Prosecutor’s Office, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Estonia to the United Nations, and the Counsellor to the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations.

We will keep you informed of EPL’s tremendous work under challenging conditions.

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide