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Making Environmental Preservation an Economic Asset
24 May 2018
Environmental and social well-being as indispensable condition for modern economic development

There is a clear trend that social and economic development, along with the growth social welfare, correlates with improving the quality of life. The quality of life is a broader concept that includes, of course environmental issues, at least local ones. <...> We are perfectly aware that it is impossible to solve all environmental problems at once, not only in Russia, but in any other country in the world. As a rule, progress in environmental protection, takes years, and the results don’t become apparent at a glance — Sergei Ivanov, Special Presidential Representative for Environmental Protection, Ecology and Transport.

The benefit of the economy is inseparable from the standard of environmental safety and public good, because the very development of the economy by modern standards certainly includes environmental security as a separate factor. <...> As it is declared, today the government and the society share the same priority: it’s successful economic development, social well-being, a comfortable environment and the safety of human life — .

The main task in any aspect is to ensure the standard of living, protection, a well-paid workplace and comfortable living environment for any person. A person is the centre of any decision being made today — .

Green Shield Law improves urban environmental health

As for the Green Shield Law, here’s what we’ve faced: 85 regions of the Russian Federation launched an initiative to create protection parkland areas. Meanwhile, 25 territories have completed all the procedures <...> and now these areas, which are supposed to protect both big cities and small towns, are already getting 100–1000 hectares — Vladimir Gutenev, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Economic Policy, Innovative Development, and Entrepreneurship.

Environmental protests are frequently unjustified

We are determined to build four incineration plants in Moscow region and one in Tatarstan using the most hi-end technologies. <...> Protests began. <...>We should give credit to the media, at least the federal outlets. They shot a few nice stories about the same type of plants that are located in the centre of Vienna or Tokyo. These zero-emission plants even have restaurants. <...> But no, there’s no way we will let build these plants. I have a simple question. What’s your suggestion then? To keep burying garbage in the ground? — Sergei Ivanov, Special Presidential Representative for Environmental Protection, Ecology and Transport.

Environmental community consists of the rational and the unreasonable. The ones that are sponsored from abroad belong to the unreasonable. <...> This is what happened in Chelyabinsk. Meaning, the ‘charged’ people ran around, creating all sorts of protests and demonstrations. Yet, we have the results of the environmental appraisal that was carried out in compliance with all the requirements - both federal and regional — Denis Manturov, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.

Low quality of environmental appraisal

Today, in order to make a step forward, businesses must do such appraisals, as industrial appraisal, industrial safety. In this department, regulation is impeccable. Requirements for experts and their accreditation.<...>Moreover, these experts face criminal liability should they provide inaccurate information. What is happening with the environmental appraisal, which has a governmental status? The Ministry of Natural Resources contractually attracts any public expert, who does not bear any responsibility and their activity is not accredited. <...> It’s the government that holds principal interest in protecting human life and safety <...>that’s why it should make the government environmental appraisal a truly government one — .

Our task is to make a person the centre of attention, <…> and the government should be the main pillar of it. Therefore, it is urgent and paramount <...> to introduce regulation similar to industrial safety appraisal. <...> There should be a procedure that would protect our territories from non-profit organizations with the foreign agent status, which will hinder their development in such a creeping manner — .

Decision making opacity

We are afraid when something changes. <...>We first want to understand what is happening there: this is a chance or a risk for me, it's dangerous or safe for me and for my family – and this mechanism is reasonable. But without information the person is in denial and says: "I don’t know anything, which means it is, probably, dangerous". <...> Therefore, transparency of all processes is a most necessary measure, namely in the licensing of mining operations — Carsten Drebenstedt, Chair of the Professorship in Mining and Surface Mining, Faculty of Geosciences, Geoengineering and Mining, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg.

Neglecting environmental issues results in economic damage

Total damage (to the economy from environmental protests – Editor’s note) is about 60 thousand jobs that were never created and more than 1 trillion roubles of potential investments blocked. This amount <…>is comparable to the negative effect of sanctions — .

Finding balance in environmental and economic solutions

The main task is to help economy grow beyond global indices. What is needed for that? To do this, we need to create conditions, develop our own industry, which will ensure growth. <…> Without conditions for industry performance, the budget will get no taxes or incomes that can later be used to develop social sectors of the economy. Therefore, the main task is to find mutually acceptable terms to organize any investment project — Denis Manturov, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.

Here, in Russia we will start a national project on environmental issues, which means the government is working to preserve human health, ensure life expectancy, a comfortable living environment and, at the same time, stimulate the development of modern economy through high, high-tech standards — .

It is important to streamline the legislation. We need to find such a compromise, <…> which would allow us to achieve the goal, fight for the quality of life and for the environment, but at the same time, give an incentive to production development to create jobs — .

Consider public opinion

Local residents and officials are interested in their well-being as nobody else. And we work with the local residents — .

International cooperation. Creating unified environmental standards

Environmental protection knows no political boundaries. We all live on the same planet and our resources are limited, and there are other reasons for unified standards as well <…> to make interests of a person, interests of people, the centre of all our actions — Carsten Drebenstedt, Chair of the Professorship in Mining and Surface Mining, Faculty of Geosciences, Geoengineering and Mining, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg.

The material was prepared by the Russian news agency TASS