A symbiotic living together with the biosphere (nature, environment) is that an integral part of any effective society which allows to get economic and social benefits and also to ensure a constant state development. Accordingly, socially and environmentally responsible business is not only the present time requirement but also is an integral part of the transformation process in Ukraine.
Iryna Myronova, a participant of the program “Young Generation will Change Ukraine” talks about her experience introducing the concept of sustainable development in industrial Ukraine.
The member of Ukrainian National Scout Organization PLAST, graduate of the of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”, an active member of HS “Green Wave” and an ecologist, you have been working for several years in Concern Galnaftogaz (a chain of filling stations “OKKO”). As an ecologist, why did you choose the industrial company and how your knowledge helped the company to become more environmentally conscious?
Being a student of the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” I was interested in business and the environment interaction. As a rule, it is accepted to blame the business in the destruction of the environment due to the depletion and pollution of natural resources. Afterwards it is impossible to save the environment without changing business approaches. Because every business works to meet the different needs of its customers, ordinary people which choose goods and services in accordance with standards of cost, quality, environmental, different people have different decisive factors.
These people have chosen municipal administration and the government that regulate business activity, particularly in environmental matters.
A social request as an influence competency on environmental social and economic policy in different societies are different. During the studying in USA in BARD Center for Environmental Policy and Marlboro’s MBA in Managing for Sustainability I went deep in the topic of responsibility and interaction with stakeholders. My work in Concern Galnaftogaz allowed me to apply my knowledge in practice. My role was primarily to raise important social and environmental issues in the company and looking for solutions in common.
How Ukrainian enterprises open/ready to accept the concept of sustainable development and to its implementation in their activities?
The concept of sustainable development is difficult to understand for everyone, not just for enterprises, especially when transfer it to the operational level. Very often companies in the environmental and social initiatives see only the additional costs; therefore, they do not hurry to implement such initiatives. My job is to find solutions that will save resources, reduce risk, improve reputation, increase customer and workers loyalty and local communities as a result is the investment in their long-term prosperity.
Do social and environmental components play a crucial role in making investment decisions on such enterprises as Galnaftogas?
Social and environmental company practices must meet the requirements of investors. It is not the crucial role of
course, but the basic necessary condition for cooperation with such institutions as EBRD or IFC. The obligatory part of every loan agreement is an environmental and social action plan that the company agrees to implement and allocate the necessary resources. Another important document is the plan of interaction with stakeholders, which includes a system to respond to the request of interested parties. Every year during the term of the loan agreement the company must report on the implementation of this action plan and on requests of the parties concerned and companies’ reaction to it.
Which exactly innovations and approaches to ecological innovations and practices of corporate social responsibility you have learned during the program “Young Generation will Change Ukraine” in Norway and which one did you implement?
In Norway we had very interesting meetings, one of which was particularly devoted to the topic of social responsibility. Norwegian enterprise confederation NHO – is a national trade union that actively promotes (advances) among its members implementing the principles of the UN Global Compact and assert the interests of labor collectives in power. This is one of the most influential NGOs in Norway, which has an equal influence as the government. We also visited the OECD Norwegian National Contact Point – an independent institution that is funded by the government to ensure implementing and maintaining Guidelines for multinational corporations, and also serves as a mediator for conflict resolution on the activities of multinational corporations.
For example, a multinational company with the head office in Norway in one of the countries has violated the rights of local communities in a clean environment, but in this country, this community cannot count on impartial and fair decision. The community may complain to the company NCP in Norway. Such NCP were established in all OECD member countries.
Which projects do you currently implement or plan to implement in the near future? Will the projects aimed at increasing environmental awareness and social responsibility of the population, whether it will be unrelated to environmental projects?
I continue to advise the company on environmental management and social responsibility. And also I enlist to educational activities; in the near future I will talk about Green Office at Green School in Kyiv. I plan to implement a revitalization of the public garden in Lviv, I’m going to put into practice some ideas from Norwegian parks as well.
What is your favourite quote to inspire changes?
This is a phrase of Jeffrey Hollender the founder of the American company Seventh Generation from the book What matters most: «Business, which is out of business, is not going to do anything good to anyone”. This motivates me in work I really want the responsible business in our country to be the most successful at the same time.