Round Table «Sustainable Development and Civil Society: Priorities of the Institute of Sustainable Development»
The event was organized by the Institute of Contemporary Development jointly with the Institute for Sustainable Development. Authoritative economists, representatives of the Public Chamber and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and leading Russian scientists and experts participated in the discussion.
Opening the discussion, V.M. Zakharov, head of the Institute of Sustainable Development, stressed that Institute of Contemporary Development’s report “Russia of the 21st Century: The Image of the Desired Tomorrow” had aroused great interest both in himself and his organization but noted that, although the report covered numerous topics, it practically ignored environmental policy. “This trend should be present in the report,” he said and suggested that the attending experts should make a review of this topic of sustainable development, describe ways of solving the existing problems, and discuss them with the institute’s experts. In his opinion, it is impossible to carry out modernization for sustainable development without a competent environmental policy; modernization is necessary for people, for every individual rather than for increasing the GDP or producing more raw materials. S.N. Bobylev, a professor from Moscow State University, focused on the economic aspect of sustainable development and on how to me sure sustainability, which is one of the main tasks. He emphasized that the world economy is changing its vector with a stake on energy efficiency literally in front of our eyes, and this is supported by colossal financial investments. At the same time, while the whole world is trying to go out of the crisis with the green economy, Russia is placing its stake on the high-carbon economy, which makes its development unsustainable.
The priority of economic policy, a large-scale use of natural resources, should account for the priority of environmental policy, an increase in their value. Ensuring the protection and rational use of natural resources should underlie long-term state policy. These problems were covered in special reviews.
Our country, as well as the world as a whole, is facing new challenges. This determines the necessity to modernize the economy. Remember that the essence and trends of this modernization should be determined by its ultimate goal, namely improving the living conditions of each person today and ensuring friendly conditions for future generations. This task is usually defined as ensuring sustainable development.
The Institute of Sustainable Development as a joint program of the Center for Russian Environmental Policy and the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation sees its task in uniting the efforts of the expert community and the structures of civil society to ensure sustainable development. The main trends in this respect are the following. The priority in Russia’s national environmental policy is to increase the value of natural resources and the natural wealth as a whole. Its understatement hinders sustainable development. This priority goes hand in hand with that of increasing the value of human life and health. Together, they determine the ways toward the sustainable development of society. The level of the development of any society depends on how people value nature and its resources, as well as their own life and health. Observing the principles of sustainable development is a way out of the current crisis and toward future crisis-free development. The reviews Crisis: Economy and Ecology and Priorities of Russian National Environmental Policy are devoted to this topic.
The priority of economic policy, a large-scale use of natural resources, should account for the priority of environmental policy and an increase in its value. Ensuring the protection and rational use of natural resources should underlie longterm state policy. This aspect is covered by the reviews Topical Issues of National Forest Policy, Water Resources of the World and the Problems of Russia’s Water-Resource Economic Complex, Problems of Sustainable Land Use in Russia, and Preservation of Biodiversity and Sustainable Development. The existing regional policy opens significant possibilities for solving these tasks. This fact is reflected in the review Regional Environmental Policy: Tomsk Experience. Increasing the value of natural resources and services underlies the modern concept of payments for ecosystem services. The organization of payments for ecosystem services determines new perspectives for the development of Russia, the country of the richest natural resources. The implementation of this priority will make it possible to position Russia as an environmental donor. This aspect is covered in the reviews Economy and Climate and Ecosystem Services and Economy. The practice of the development of the market economy and the recent crisis phenomena both in Russia and globally show that implementing these priorities is perhaps the main task of the state and civil society.