While opening the Eastern Economic Forum NPO LAB on 11 September, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets noted the importance of the social work carried out by the Roscongress Foundation: «In recent years, non-profit organizations in Russia have become much more influential and efficient. They work directly with people and know their real needs better than anyone else and often raise acute social problems that authorities may not yet know about. And whats more important, they offer solutions to these problems, which often turn out to be innovative. The NPO LAB project is designed to simplify interaction between NGOs, authorities, and business structures. We understand how important it is for more active young people to get involved in NPOs and a student competition will show many of them that public activity may be for them and will serve as a start for new projects that can change the life of the country for the better.»
According to Roscongress Foundation CEO Alexander Stuglev, «the NPO LAB platform appeared as part of Roscongress Foundation forums in response to a need to systematize the social agenda and to organize a regular dialogue between the state, business circles, and society on the topic of social development. This dialogue creates synergy, experience is shared, and all participants are included in the resolution of important social problems.»
«In support of the theme of the Forum, we created the NPO LAB programme this time around the specific areas of social development relevant to the Russian Far East. Over the course of the three days of the platforms work, sessions and discussions will be held on the practical aspects of addressing issues of demography and human capital development, improving environmental efficiency and responsibility, implementing programmes to support active longevity, and creating an inclusive environment. An important theme of the dialogue will also be the strengthening of the role of women in achieving social and economic well-being,» Deputy CEO and Head of the Directorate for the Socio-Economic Agenda of the Roscongress Foundation Elena Marinina added.
The first day of the NPO LAB site opened with two thematic blocks. In the session on human capital, discussion participants touched upon issues of demographic policy implementation, international practices in human capital development applicable to the Russian Far East, and the role of new technologies and innovations in the development of education in the region.
Executive Director of Reach for Change Foundation Supporting Social Initiatives for Children Evgenia Telitsyna outlined the main areas of social entrepreneurship: «One popular trend in social entrepreneurship involves the creation of jobs for representatives of vulnerable groups, namely people with HIA, orphans, single mothers, etc. This is a very promising area for the development of the regions labour capital, and it can and should be developed. The Club of Young Parents, a private inclusive kindergarten, a recycling depot that employs the homeless, classes for the socialization of orphans, and culinary courses for the obese are all specific examples of social entrepreneurship in the Far East as well as other regions of the Russian Federation and the world the purpose of which is to raise the quality of life in the region and increase its attractiveness as a place to live.»
In his speech, Public and Government Affairs Advisor at Exxon Neftegas Limited Valery Kripa drew attention to the support of indigenous minorities in the Sakhalin Region and Khabarovsk Territory. «Production activities of the Sakhalin-1 project involve direct dialogue and cooperation with indigenous communities. We respect the indigenous peoples and their culture, conduct regular consultations with them, take their traditional knowledge and information on the use of land into account for our production plans, and strive for mutually beneficial long-term relations and cooperation. The charitable programme in place to support the indigenous peoples occupies a special place in the social activities of the company and includes three main areas: the support of reindeer breeding as the main type of traditional activity carried out by the indigenous peoples, preservation of the indigenous languages of the indigenous peoples, and the development and popularization of the culture, traditions, and national crafts of the indigenous peoples.»
The ecological agenda of the first day of the EEF at the NPO LAB stand called for several discussions including: «Ecology and innovation. Preservation of the natural ecosystems of the Russian Far East», «Marine reserves and marine protected areas. How can the seas surrounding the Russian Far East and the worlds oceans be safeguarded against human interference?», and «Public initiatives as an integral part of regional development».
It is becoming more and more important to ensure strict compliance with environmental legislation at manufacturing plants in the face of industrial development in the regions. Many companies do not limit themselves to this and as a part of corporate social responsibility take additional steps to conserve ecosystems in the regions where they function.
In his report, Director for Development of B2B Products for E-Commerce QIWI George Konnov brought up the topic of involving the community in co-financing environmental projects. «In Germany, passengers have the option of buying a more expensive rail ticket as a way of donating money to the development of green energy forms. Could this approach work in Russia? Yes, we checked by launching the QIWI#forgood project: with the fast pace of modern life, people are prepared to support charity projects either at the time of purchase or right after it but not if they need to go out and especially look for it. This mechanism is win-win for everybody. Businesses increase turnover, attract attention to their projects, and can test non-standard ideas. Customers get the opportunity to do a good deed theyve been putting off for some time. Funds attract a new audience and get co-financing.»
According to experts, the development of civil NPO initiatives in the Russian Far East show the same trends as throughout the rest of Russia. Nadezhda Belkova, a member of the Commission for the Disabled under the President of the Russian Federation: «The best practices of the Far East, as a territory of advanced development, should be available throughout the country. Providing access to NPOs for the provision of social services and creating a rating of the regions in terms of the level of NPO activities would ensure the creation of favourable conditions for the development of the non-profit sector and social entrepreneurship. It is also important that attracting students to the development of volunteer activities in institutions of higher education would greatly aid the development of NPOs and innovation centres in the regions.»