Joint programme of the
Center for Russian Evironmental Policy &
the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation


Towards Green Economy in Russia (review)

    The country, like the whole world, is facing new challenges nowadays. They determine the need to modernize the economy, including innovative development and energy efficiency. We should not forget that nature and  the modernization  are determined by its ultimate goal, which, despite the importance of economic growth, technical excellence and competitiveness is to improve the lives of everyone today and to provide  enabling environment for future generations. The task is now to provide sustainable development based on the "green economy" principles.
    Economic growth today is associated with an increase in pollution and environmental degradation, depletion of natural resources, the imbalance of the biosphere, climate change, which lead to  deterioration of human health and narrow opportunities for further development. That means that fulfilling the extremely important task of increasing human welfare does not provide the necessary quality of life. All this define the essence of modernization as the provision of technological progress for economic development and maintaining a favourable environment (environmental safety, which is important for economic growth and for the very existence of a man).
    The support of industry modernization is essential by means of win-win solutions, associated with the provision of both economic efficiency and reduction of harmful emissions, sustainable use of natural resources, low waste production. Support and dissemination of such experience are of need as well. This is the key task of the modern innovative development. And for that, in addition to awareness raising on the importance of compliance with environmental requirements, both strict environmental requirements, as well as economic interest, are necessary including all possible mechanisms - modernization should be beneficial. The shift of industry to the use of best available techniques seems promising. In order to solve the waste problem there is a need to support the recycling industry and legal norms for the collateral value of the packaging in place.
    Efficient and timely measure to ensure environmentally sound production is to establish a widespread system of voluntary certification of corporate social accountability, including reporting on sustainable development, based on the growing demand for environmental goods and services in the world and domestic markets.
    Basic direction for the country development is energy. It is necessary to ensure the safe use of traditional resources and energy efficiency. Realisation of great opportunities to improve energy efficiency involves introduction of urgent measures to ensure the interest in energy conservation at all levels - from the industrial development to an individual household.
    Modernization should take into account the country's enormous potential for using renewable energy sources. This involves facilitating energy production from renewable energy sources and support for domestic production of necessary equipment. This way of development is not opposite to, but strengthens the current position of the country as a supplier of hydrocarbons, opening up additional possibilities for exports and ensuring national independence and the prospects for further development.
    The realisation of the economic modernization of Russia should take into account the enormous possibilities of the country in terms of providing ecosystem services, including the role of global ecosystem of forests, wetlands and other natural ecosystems. It is also necessary to ensure co-operation of regions based on the assessment of natural services with access to international markets to compensate the efforts to preserve and multiply the natural wealth. This will allow to position Russia not only as an energy state, but also as an ecological donor, which involves the capitalization, receiving benefits by the country from its ecosystems.
    The on-going Rio+20 process for the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2012, 20 years after the Summit in Rio de Janeiro, provides new opportunities for the country. Russia is among those countries, to which this is of great importance. In fact, there are a number of reasons, such as economic growth, rich natural resources, and the search for the optimal way of development. The country's priorities in innovation policy, energy efficiency, modernization of its economy in line with the modern requirements, determine a natural progress way towards sustainable development. Russia, together with other BRICS countries could lead the transition towards sustainable development.
    All these involve the development and implementation of new policies. The environmental requirements which are nowadays known as the green economy principles determine the directions of innovative development and modernization in order to ensure the safe long-term economic growth. The green economy priorities and the environmental requirements should be included in the general development plans aimed at addressing the socio-economic issues, which are of everyone’s concern in the first place. Even the provision of proper environmental protection measures (establishment of protected areas, biodiversity conservation, etc.) is appropriate to be included in the clear market mechanisms - payments for ecosystem services.
    The primary measure to assess the situation and determine priorities is the establishment of a sustainable development indicators system. These, above all, are nature and energy intensity indicators of economic growth and specific indicators of pollution.
    The goals of the new economy based on market mechanisms presuppose compliance with the two main conditions, defined by the level of society and its cultural maturity. First, the provision of market demands for natural goods and their related characteristics, the requirements of consumers (including population and the state), which assume the role of human factors on the basis of priority of enhancing the value of nature and man. Second, what is needed to be done is to give a chance to the competition mechanism to work. Creating the competitive environment by the state, minimizing the role of monopolies in economy will encourage businesses for innovations.
    The formation of the joint action priorities requires adoption of common rules of conduct and codes of ethics accepted at the global level. Such a document could be based on the Earth Charter - worked out vision in 2000 on the principles of sustainable development essential to ensure ecological integrity, social justice, democracy, and peace. Today, this document takes on a new meaning.
    Success of the implementation of the economic modernization ideas, energy efficiency, and sustainable development depend on the active position and the personal interest of everyone. This defines a need for the educational activities and for the enhancement of public awareness, consistent work of mass media, and social advertising. A key role in addressing the problems of sustainable development by society, and in  raising broad public interest is played by culture (including  cinema, pop art, literature), cultural and natural heritage.
    The civil society should play here an important role, including mass public organizations, youth movements, and professional institutions for sustainable development. Civil society acts as an initiator of the Rio+20 process, demonstrating the interest of people and delegating authority to the state to ensure active participation of the country in shifting the international community towards sustainable development. Successful implementation of these ideas involves the formation of a broad movement in support of sustainable development as a priority activity of the civil society, considering it as a priority for the government and businesses to provide their support.

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