Farewell, Homo Inactive! Hello, HOMO SAPIENS!

24 March 2017

This year, Docudays UA will deal with the ominous +40С, or with the projected increase in global temperature. The carefully selected films will demonstrate how the climate on Earth changed yesterday, and where human inactivity about it will lead us tomorrow. And in the human rights programme Rights Now!, we will discuss the ways to change everything today.


In the legal field, it is almost impossible to find any articles stating that a person has the right to live in a stable climate. But the current consequences of global warming have violated numerous articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written back in 1948, for decades. This includes the right to security, to housing, to property. For example, in the Pacific island countries, where people are being evacuated en masse and forced to abandon their households because of rising sea levels, nobody doubts that these rights are being violated.


Ukraine is also implicated in the environmental disaster in the Pacific and in the melting of the Arctic ice cap, because Ukraine is one of the top 20 countries in the world which emit the largest amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The reason for this is the emissions from heating and electricity stations,transportation,agriculture. Around 76 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the energy sector.


However, the country’s current lead- ership does not consider rejecting fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable sources of energy an urgent issue. Out of 423 MPs in the Ukrainian parliament, only 22 have joined the interfactional association called the Green Energy of Change. Therefore, we should not be expecting revolutionary change or an ‘environmental’ majority in the parlia- ment any time soon. But is it possible to achieve these goals without a massive change in the minds of the citizens? Obviously, it is not.


Few people know that climate change violates the constitutional rights of Ukrainians as well. Article 50 of the Constitution of Ukraine states that everyone has the right to live in an environment which is safe for their lives and health, and to receive compensation for any damage caused by violations of this right. As a part of the Rights Now! programme, an environmental rights organization from Lviv, Environment–People–Law, will present a series of events titled Human Rights and the Environment: Ukrainian Dimensions; at these events, the organisation will clarify the risks and dangers of human rights violations caused by climate change, speak about the impact of military operations on the environment, and about the protection of environmental rights.


More than 20 events of the human rights programme can be divided into educational discussions and practical workshops. The first major discussion is about the consumerist society. Its organisers, the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s office in Ukraine, are convinced that it is important to highlight the link between climate change and the excessive everyday consumerism of each and every of us. A similar topic will be discussed at the roundtable Agriculture: Environmental Challenge or the Hope of Humanity, organised by the National Environmental Centre of Ukraine. The participants in this event will explain the connection between the origins of the food we eat every day and the global challenges faced by humanity: famine, poverty, social inequality and climate change. One of the extraordinary events of the Rights Now! programme will be the presentation and discussion of a study entitled The Real Price of Coal in the Situation of War in the Donbas. The authors of the book have visited mining towns and villages in the territory of the Donbas under Ukrainian control, and recorded numerous violations of the social, labour, and environmental rights of local residents. These violations might be well-known, but people do not talk about them or discuss them at all.


The programme’s authors have also prepared many interesting things for those who prefer practical events. These include a cycling school and a discussion about the rights of cyclists on the streets of the cities which strive to popularize this environmentally friendly means of transportation (organised by the Kyiv Cyclists’Association).The Ukrainian Youth Climate Association will hold a workshop about climate activism.At the event about grassroots green activism, guests from many regions of the country will tell us about decisions that can make cities not only environmentally friendly, but also people-friendly, through the grass- roots development of public spaces. And during the discussion entitled #Ecooko: Can Instagram Change the World?, we will debate whether the trendy social network Instagram can become an tool for activism and a catalyst of change.


We have also found some room in the programme for events which, although not directly related to the topic of this year’s festival, are undeniably related to human rights; we are compelled to pay attention to these topics by our tumultuous present and by the war in the east of our country. For example, Dumaidan 2017: Gather at the Tent of Understanding will look for the reasons of misunderstandings between people from different ethnic groups in Ukrainian society and for ways to overcome them. And a military reporter from France, Jean-Paul Marie, will talk about overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder. When he faced the death of two of his journalist colleagues,Taras Protsiuk and Jose Couso, in Iraq, the man decided not to be silent about his shock. The author of a book and a documentary about PTSD is now ready to tell the Ukrainian public about his important experience.


Entry to all these events is free of charge,and your presence is welcome.We sincerely hope that the knowledge you gain here will not only spark your interest in the state of our environment, but also change your way of life. So farewell, Homo Inactive! Hello, homo sapiens!


Text: Kateryna Lutska

Photo: "Behemoth" (dir. Liang Zhao)

25 – 
April 2022