Interview with Serghei Palihovici, Minister of the Environment

The National Waste Management System needs improvement!

A period of several months has passed since the Ministry of Environment has a new minister. Mr. Serghei PALIHOVICI, who has extensive experience in the field of public administration, was appointed to this position. In the last period of time, he held the position of Deputy General Secretary of the Government. His lordship accepted this position because he intends to change many things for the better in the field of environmental protection, including that related to proper waste management. You are, from what I have been able to see so far, a decisive person with character, who has a clear vision and courageous proposals to change the staff's attitude towards environmental issues. On the eve of the World Environment Day, I requested from Mr. Serghei PALIHOVICI, the Minister of the Environment, an interview about the current environmental problems, about the existing problems in the field of waste management, their selective collection, the implementation of high-performance technologies and new collection methods, which require to be implemented in the country. We now present the minister's vision regarding the problem addressed.  

"Waste Management" editorial: As we know, the World Environment Day was initiated on June 5 by the United Nations General Assembly, and by the Government Decision of May 31, 2010 in the Republic of Moldova, June 5 was declared the "Professional Day of environmental workers". How will the Ministry of the Environment and its territorial subdivisions welcome these important events?

Serghei Palihovici: This event is an important opportunity for governmental institutions, local administrations, non-governmental organizations, public and private enterprises, including the mass media, to mobilize through joint demonstrations, aimed at drawing attention to the need to protect environmental components. The protection of all environmental components is a field that requires a special but also a general approach in all sectors of the national economy. The sustainable development of a state cannot be conceived without a qualitative and acceptable environment from the point of view of the quality of life of the population. In this context, the Republic of Moldova has signed and ratified all international conventions in the field. My message to the citizens is to join forces to protect the environment, to make our country prosperous, clean and healthy. Events will be organized throughout the country to mark this day. Within the ministry, an Action Plan with the generic "Your Environment Week" is being developed, which provides for both organizational and practical measures. I, personally, will strive in my mandate to change the perception of this ministry, so that it is no longer viewed only as the one from where you can obtain an opinion, authorization, a project, a signature, but as a forum where beneficial strategies are born for the health of people and the environment in which they live. This is what I want, this is my vision.

"Waste Management" editorial office: In the first months of your activity as Minister of the Environment, you organized a series of meetings with NGO representatives. What was the purpose of these meetings and what did you learn from the information and accusations addressed to the ministry by the participants?  

Sergei Palihovici: During these 5 months of activity as Minister of the Environment, I had individual meetings and discussions with different categories of employees, starting with representatives of civil society, with leaders of companies and organizations in the field of the environment, with natural and legal persons from the business environment , not to mention subordinates from the Ministry of the Environment, the State Ecological Inspectorate, etc. Everywhere, the participants were active, open in addressing the problems they face in their day-to-day activities, as well as the shortcomings admitted by the ministry in the process of developing the ecological legislation. Most of the questions and discussions were devoted to the issues of collaboration and information of civil society regarding the latest versions of draft laws in the field of environmental protection, the waste law and other legislative-normative acts. From those present, friendly proposals were also submitted to the ministry. These proposals will be taken into consideration for completing the work plan of the ministry. Regarding some observations from some participants, we discussed them at the operative meetings of the ministry and made the respective conclusions so that they would not be committed in the future. I personally regret the fact that civil society was not familiar with the latest versions of draft laws in time, actors who were involved at the initial stage in the process of drafting these drafts. Indeed, the current draft law differs a lot from the original one and already the objections and proposals presented are accepted and included in the draft.

"Waste Management" editorial office: I believe that the draft law on environmental protection is the basis for the formation of the environmental constitution in the field of environmental protection. It is complicated in terms of content and difficult to read, it presents more of a scientific document in the field of environmental protection than a practical one. It seems to me that Law no. 1515 of 16.06.1993 is much closer to reality, clear in content and with many articles that are current but not fulfilled. For the simple reader, the draft law will not give anything, it will not be read or implemented. In order to get into the essence of the project, it is necessary for the respective person to have extensive knowledge in the field environmental protection and a scientific dictionary to decipher the phrases included in some articles. 

Sergei Palihovici: I have personally studied this bill, as well as the old law from 1993, and I can draw some conclusions. Law 1515 is the first framework law in the field of environmental protection. It is a good law that needs to be amended and supplemented. Many items already do not correspond to the pace of life, to the requirements of the European Directives. As a basis, it must be left and completed with the new requirements, with activities and efficient methods regarding the protection of the environment. I agree that in the new version of the law there are still articles that do not encourage us to do anything, they are just a collection of theoretical words. We want each article of the law to reflect a concrete problem that we need to solve. During the last months, changes for the better have been made in this bill. It is quite possible, soon, that we will have another meeting with the civil society regarding the final version of the law, in case it will not be discussed in the Parliament.

"Waste Management" editorial office: How can the situation be changed in the future??

The full interview with the Minister of the Environment can be read in the next issue of "Waste Management" Magazine, no. 6, which will be published in June 2015.