Thursday, 3 May 2012

New Environmental Policy adopted in Russia

On 30 April 2012, outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev approved the "Principles of State policy in the area of environmental development of the Russian Federation for the period up to the year 2030”. The document was published on the Kremlin website in Russian language only. We prepared an English translation (see below). Does the policy offer any prospects for a change to the better in Russia under President Putin, who resumed the office of Russia’s President on 7 May 2012?

Interesting in the light of the Russia’s refusal to commit to new obligations in international climate negotiations is that the document admits that “global environmental problems associated with climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification and other negative environmental processes” have an impact on Russia and its citizens (point 1). Noteworthy as well are references to the facts that a large percentage of Russia’s urban population is faced with high and even very high air pollution, and that some 100 million hectares are threatened by desertification (point 3). Industrial pollution is to be reduced to a level similar to that “in economically developed countries” (point 13.c).
In 2010, President’s Medvedev had called for an improved, consolidated environmental policy. This is reflected in the new Environmental Policy where it calls for the establishment of an integrated and coherent system of environmental laws (point 11.b). Medvedev had pointed out correctly that Russia’s environmental laws are isolated and at times contradictory. Another problem is that fines for violation of environmental laws and permit conditions are too low, and enforcement is frequently flawed. Medvedev called for ensuring that observance of environmental protection legislation becomes a standard practice – implying that this is not the case so far. The new policy document stresses that liability for violations of environmental legislation are to be increased and punishment for environmental crimes is to become inevitable (point 11.d).
The Moscow Times reported that environmentalists applauded the new policy, but warned that it offers little detail on how to fulfil its promises. The director of Greenpeace Russia's energy program, Vladimir Chuprov, was quoted saying that he welcomed any documents that help to create a system to support the environment, but regretted that the document is lacking concrete steps outlined on how to achieve the goals. He was also disappointed that despite references to environmentally friendly growth, the new policy does not mention transitioning to a low-carbon economy, or more details about the creation of institutions to properly regulate environmental affairs.
Indeed, much will depend on whether concrete steps will be taken that would actually deal with the issues outlined by former President Medvedev. The EU has been instrumental in analysing where improvements to aspects of Russia’s environmental law system are possible, notably through the Harmonisation of environmental standards projects that were convened between 2003 and 2009. Not much was done with the recommendations formulated by Russian and EU experts in those projects, however. The new Environmental Policy could be a step in the right direction, but only if President Putin is willing and able to seriously improve his environmental record.

See also:
-    - Medvedev signs off on ecology policy, The Moscow Times, 3 May 2012
-    - OECD report on Environmental Policy and Regulation in Russia (2006)
-    - President Medvedev: Consolidated state policy is needed to address environmental problems (27 May 2010)



Principles of the State policy in the area of

environmental development of the Russian Federation

for the period up to the year 2030


Non-official translation of
by W.Th. Douma (T.M.C. Asser Institute) with the help of D.N. Ratsiborinskaya (Erasmus University Rotterdam)


I. General provisions


1. Global environmental problems associated with climate change, loss of biodiversity, desertification and other negative environmental processes, increased environmental damage by natural and man-made disasters, atmospheric pollution, surface and groundwater, as well as the marine environment, affect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens.

2. The environmental situation in the Russian Federation is characterized by a high level of human impact on the natural environment and significant environmental effects of past economic activity.

3. In 40 federal subjects of the Russian Federation more than 54 per cent of the urban population is faced with high and very high air pollution. The volume of wastewater discharged into surface water bodies without treatment or not sufficiently treated, remains high. In almost all regions, there is a trend towards deterioration of soil and land. Intensive development processes are leading to the loss of fertility of agricultural land and their termination from economic production. Desertification in one way or the other affects 27 federal subjects of the Russian Federation, on an area of more than 100 million hectares. The amount of waste not involved in secondary productive purposes but directed to landfill is increasing. At the same time, the conditions of storage and disposal of waste do not conform to the requirements of ecological safety.

4. The development of these Principles is to ensure environmental security while modernizing the economy and during the process of innovative development.

5. These Principles determine the strategic goal, the major objectives of the State in the field of environmental protection and environmental security and mechanisms for their implementation.

6. State policy in the area of environmental development in the Russian Federation for the period up to 2030 (hereinafter referred to as the State policy in the area of environmental development) is based on the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the principles and norms of international law, international treaties of the Russian Federation, as well as the Federal constitutional laws, federal laws, the laws of the federal subjects of the Russian Federation, long-term strategic planning, including the concept of long-term socio-economic development of the Russian Federation for the period up to the year 2020, established by the Government Decree of the Russian Federation of 17 November 2008, No. 1662-r.


II. Strategic objective and principles of State policy in the area of environmental development


7. The strategic objective of State policy in the field of environmental development is the decision of the socio-economic goals for environmentally oriented economic growth, preservation of the environment, biodiversity and natural resources to meet the needs of present and future generations, the realization of the right of everyone to a favourable environment, strengthening of the rule of law in the area of environmental protection and environmental safety.

8. The implementation of these Principles shall be carried out in accordance with the following principles:

a)      respect for the human right to a favourable environment;
b)      creating an enabling environment for human life;
c)       a scientific sound combination of environmental, economic and social interests of (a -?) human, society and the State, with a view to sustainable development and to a healthy environment and environmental safety;
d)      protection, reproduction and rational use of natural resources as necessary conditions for ensuring a favourable state of the environment and environmental safety;
e)      priority conservation of natural ecosystems, natural landscapes and natural complexes;
f)       the responsibility of the federal authorities, authorities of federal subjects of the Russian Federation and of local authorities (hereinafter referred to as the public authorities) to ensure a favourable state of the environment and environmental safety in the relevant territories;
g)      the presumption of environmental hazards of proposed economic or other activities;
h)      a compulsory environmental impact assessment of the proposed decisions relating to the implementation of economic and other activities;
i)        the prohibition of economic and other activities with unpredictable effects on the environment, as well as prohibition of projects, which can lead to a degradation of natural ecosystems, change and/or destruction of the genetic reserve of plants, animals and other organisms, depletion of natural resources and other negative environmental change;
j)        to ensure that economic and other activities meet standards and requirements in the field of environmental protection and environmental safety;
k)      respect of the right of every person to receive reliable information on the state of the environment;
l)        citizen participation in decision-making affecting their rights to a favourable environment;
m)    liability for violation of the legislation of the Russian Federation on environmental protection;
n)      full compensation for environmental harm;
o)      participation of citizens, the public and other non-profit organisations in solving problems in the field of environmental protection and environmental security, taking into consideration their position in decision-making related to the planning and implementation of economic and other activities which may have a negative impact on the environment;
p)      promotion of international cooperation in addressing global environmental problems and the application of international standards in the field of environmental protection and environmental safety.

III. Main tasks of State policy in the area of environmental development


9. The achievement of the strategic goal of State policy in the area of environmental development is ensured by the realization of the following main tasks:

a)      establishment of an effective management system in the field of environmental protection and environmental safety, which would envisage interaction and coordination of the activities of public authority bodies;
b)      Improvement of the legal basis aimed to ensure environmental protection and environmental safety;
c)       ensuring ecologically-oriented economy growth and the introduction of eco-efficient technological innovations;
d)      prevention and reduction of present adverse environmental impacts;
e)      recovery of affected natural ecological systems;
f)       ensuring environmentally sound waste management;
g)      protection of the natural environment, including natural ecosystems, fauna and flora;
h)      development of economic regulation and market-based instruments of environmental protection and environmental safety;
i)        improvement of the systems of state environmental monitoring (environmental monitoring) and prediction of natural and man-made disasters, and of climate change;
j)        scientific and information-analytical support for ensuring environmental protection and environmental safety;
k)      formation of ecological culture, development of environmental education;
l)        ensuring the effective participation of citizens, public associations, non-profit organizations and the business community in matters relating to the protection of the environment and ensuring environmental security;
m)    promotion of international cooperation in the field of environmental protection and environmental safety.

IV. Main mechanisms of realization of the State policy in the area of environmental development


10. In addressing the task of forming an effective administration in the area of environmental protection and environmental safety, which envisage interaction and coordination of activities of State authorities, the following mechanisms of realization of the State policy in the area of environmental development (hereinafter - mechanisms) are used:

a)      improvement of public authorities’ power division in the field of environmental protection and environmental safety;
b)      establishing of criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of the performance of the State authorities such as the state of the environment and environmental safety in the relevant territories, which is to be determined on the basis of a system of objective indicators;
c)       improving the effectiveness of the performance of public environmental supervision at the Federal and regional levels;
d)      introduction of environmental management system methodology for identifying and assessing environmental risks in order to increase the soundness of management decisions.

11. In order to tackle the task of improving the normative legal base of environmental protection and ecological security the following mechanisms are used:

a)      the adoption of legislative and other regulatory legal acts aimed at realization of the State policy in the area of environmental development;
b)      the establishment of a structural-holistic, integrated and coherent system of laws of the Russian Federation in the field of environmental protection, environmental security and rational natural resource management;
c)       creating a legal framework to the introduction and implementation of strategic environmental assessment for plans and programmes which are likely to have an impact on the environment;
d)      increased liability for violation of the legislation of the Russian Federation on environmental protection and ensuring the inevitability of punishment for environmental crimes and other offences.

12. In addressing the challenges of providing ecologically-oriented growth and of introducing environmentally efficient innovation the following mechanisms are used:

a)      formation of an effective, competitive and environmentally oriented economic development model that provides the greatest effect while preserving the natural environment, its rational management and minimization of negative impacts on the environment;
b)      introduction of innovative energy-saving, environmentally friendly and efficient technologies on the basis of a unified technology platform with the active participation of the State, the business community, organizations, science and education, public associations and non-profit organizations;
c)       accounting absolute and specific indicators of the efficiency in the use of natural resources and energy, the negative impact on the environment in the State regulation of environmental management and planning for the protection of the environment, as well as in assessing the efficiency of the economy as a whole and by industry branches.

13. In addressing the task of preventing and reducing this negative impact on the environment the following mechanisms are used:

a)      environmental norm-setting through technology-based regulations, conditioned by an acceptable risk to the environment and the health of the population;
b)      gradual exclusion of the establishment of temporary excess emissions and discharges of pollutants into the environment;
c)       the reduction of specific indicators of emissions and discharges of pollutants into the environment, the generation of waste by economic activities to a level similar to those reached in economically developed countries;
d)      establishing binding State environmental appraisal of project documentation of ecologically dangerous facilities, including radio-active, chemically and biologically dangerous objects;
e)      improving procedures and methodologies for assessing the impact on the environment and its accounting in decision-making at all levels, including the harmonization of procedures for making such an assessment, in accordance with the international agreements of the Russian Federation and the establishment of a framework for strategic environmental assessment;
f)       an increase in the volume of constructed buildings and structures that are certified by a system of voluntary environmental certification of real estate based on international experience in the use of «green» standards;
g)      implementation of measures prescribed by the Climate doctrine of the Russian Federation and by instruments aimed at its realization.

14. In addressing the task of rehabilitation of disturbed natural ecological systems the following mechanisms are used:

a)      inventory of the territories with a view to identifying areas with unfavourable economic situation for the implementation of programmes aimed at minimizing the negative impact on the environment and the elimination of the environmental damage associated with past economic and other activities;
b)      assessment and phase-out of environmental effects of past economic and other activities;
c)       the development of legal, economic, organizational and methodical mechanisms of compensation for damage caused by delays or the environment;
d)      conservation and restoration of protective and habitat-forming functions of natural ecosystems outside protected areas.

15. In addressing the challenges of providing environmentally sound waste management the following mechanisms are used:

a)      prevention and reduction of waste, its re-integration into the production cycle by maximizing the use of raw materials, waste rectification at its source, reduction of waste volumes and reduction of the hazardousness of waste, use of waste by means of recovery, regeneration, recuperation and recycling;
b)      introduction and use of low-waste and resource-saving technologies and equipment;
c)       creation and development of infrastructure of waste removal, neutralisation and dumping in an environmentally friendly way;
d)      the phased introduction of a ban on the dumping of non-sorted and mechanically and chemically untreated waste, as well as waste which can be used as secondary raw materials (scrap metal, paper, glass and plastic containers, tyres and batteries, and others);
e)      establishing manufacturers ' responsibility for environmentally sound disposal generated products from manufactures that had lost their consumer properties, as well as related packaging;
f)       ensuring environmental security of the storage and disposal of waste and the environmental remediation of waste disposal objects after the completion of operation of these facilities.

16. In addressing the task of preserving the natural environment, including natural ecosystems, fauna and flora resources, the following mechanisms are used:

a)      strengthening of protection and development of the system of special protected natural territories of federal, regional and local significance in strict accordance with their end purpose;
b)      establishment of an effective system of measures designed to conserve rare and endangered fauna and flora and their habitats;
c)       formation and sustainable functioning of protected natural territories of various levels and categories in order to conserve biological and landscape diversity;
d)      preventing the uncontrolled proliferation of  alien (invasive) species of animals, plants and micro-organisms on the territory of the Russian Federation;
e)      preservation of the genetic reserve of wild animals;
f)       solving the ecological problems of the Baikal natural territory, the regions of the North and the Arctic territories for traditional use of nature of small indigenous minorities of the North, Siberia and the Far East.

17. In addressing the development challenges of economic regulation and market-based instruments for environmental protection, the following mechanisms are used:

a)      a fee to be paid for causing adverse impacts on the environment taking into account the costs of implementing environmental measures;
b)      replacing the practice of charging for exceeding the polluting limits by the practice of redress for damage caused to the environment;
c)       encouraging enterprises implementing programmes of environmental modernization of production and ecological rehabilitation of the Territories concerned, as well as the widespread use of public-private partnership with government funding (co-funding) activities to improve the areas of concern, the elimination of the environmental damage associated with past economic and other activities;
d)      formation of a market for environmentally friendly products, technologies and equipment, and environmental services;
e)      support technological upgrading that reduces the anthropogenic load on the environment, sustainable management of renewable and non-renewable natural resources;
f)       the development of market-based instruments for environmental protection and environmental safety;
g)      securing advantages at otherwise equal conditions when placing orders for the supply of goods, performance of works and provision of services for State and municipal needs of goods, works, services that meet established environmental requirements;
h)      investment promotion in order to ensure the rational and efficient use of natural resources, reduction of negative influence on environment, production of environment-friendly products, the introduction of resource-saving technologies, satisfying the requirements of the legislation of the Russian Federation on environmental protection;
i)        phased introduction of a system of declaration of compliance with environmental requirements and the conduct of environmental audits;
j)        improvement of corporate environmental and social responsibility;
k)      promote the collection, sorting and utilization of wastes as secondary raw materials and energy resources;
l)        State regulation of entry to the Russian Federation of technology (equipment) and technologies that do not conform to environmental (including international) requirements.

18. To achieve the goal of building a modern system of State environmental monitoring (environmental monitoring) and prediction of natural and man-made disasters, as well as climate change the following mechanisms are used:

a)      creation and development of a unified State automated environmental monitoring system, fitted with modern measuring and analytical equipment and informational means;
b)      introduction of methods of accounting of adverse environmental impacts by using the instrumental (and automated) systems;
c)       development of observational network and data-processing programmes that provide timely access to reliable information on the state of the environment;
d)      results of the environmental monitoring shall be taken into account in activities on the protection of the environment, in decisions on the implementation of the proposed economic or other activity, in implementation of State environmental supervision, as well as in the forecasts of socio-economic development.

19. In addressing the challenges of scientific and information-analytical ensuring environmental protection and ecological security the following mechanisms are used:

a)      an integrated expansion of fundamental and applied research in the field of forecasting of threats of an ecological nature, as well as the negative effects of climate change;
b)      development and implementation of scientifically valid and objective indicators of anthropogenic impact on the environment and eco-efficiency indicators;
c)       research promotion and development in the field of environmental protection, resource conservation and environmental security.

20. In addressing the challenges of ecological culture, development of environmental education and upbringing the following mechanisms are used:

a)      forming of an environmentally responsible attitudes among all sectors of the population, especially among the young;
b)      State support for dissemination by the media of information on environmental, resource-saving and thematic events;
c)       the  inclusion of environmental issues in the new educational standards;
d)      orientation of the upbringing and training process in educational institutions towards environmentally responsible behaviour, also through the inclusion in federal State educational standards of relevant requirements to the formation of the foundations of environmental awareness among students;
e)      State support of educational institutions for training in the field of environmental protection;
f)       the development of training and skills in the field of environmental protection and environmental security for the heads of organizations and experts responsible for decision-making in the implementation of economic and other activities which have or are likely to have a negative impact on the environment;
g)      incorporation of ecological culture and ecological education in the State, federal and regional programmes.

21. In implementing the objectives of ensuring the effective participation of citizens, public associations, non-profit organizations and the business community in matters relating to the protection of the environment and ensuring environmental security the following mechanisms are used:

a)      participation of the business community, scientific and educational organizations, public associations and non-profit organizations in the formulation, discussion and decision-making in the field of environmental protection and environmental safety, and environmental practices;
b)      participation and accounting for the legitimate interests of stakeholders in the assessment of the impact of economic and other activities on the environment, including strategic environmental assessment in the development and approval of projects and programmes, the implementation of which might have an impact on the environment and the health of the population;
c)       ensuring openness and accessibility of information on the State of the environment and measures for its protection, on activities of governmental agencies and of their decisions;
d)      ensure publicity of the information contained in the declarations and resolutions on the impact on the environment, with the exception of information that constitutes a secret protected by the law;
e)      increase in information transparency of industrial enterprises in terms of their negative effects on the environment and measures being taken to reduce such impact, as well as the development of voluntary mechanisms for environmental liability of organizations, with the participation of the State, and the transition of State-owned corporations to compulsory non-financial reporting in the field of environmental protection and environmental safety in accordance with international standards. This reporting shall be audited and certified by independent third parties.

22. In addressing the challenges of promoting international cooperation in the field of environmental protection, the following mechanisms are used:

a)      implementation of measures to enhance cooperation with foreign States and international organizations in the environmental sphere aimed at more effective promotion and protection of the interests of the Russian Federation when party to the international environmental treaties, as well as fending off threats related to transboundary pollution;
b)      development of international information exchange and participation in international projects on the priority areas for the development of science, engineering and technology in environmental protection and environmental security, environmental protection, including in the Arctic;
c)       introduction of international environmental standards, systems of conformity assessment requirements, bringing them in line with international systems;
d)      harmonization of the legislation of the Russian Federation on environmental protection with international environmental law.

23. The implementation of the State policy in the field of environmental development is ensured by the implementation of an effective public administration within their authority in collaboration with the business community, academia, public and other organizations:

a)      in the design, negotiation and adoption of normative legal acts and normative technical documents;
b)      in developing the long-term socio-economic development programmes, federal and regional programmes in the field of environmental protection;
c)       in planning and decision-making on the implementation on the territory of the Russian Federation, the continental shelf and in the exclusive economic zone of the Russian Federation, of economic and other activities related to the possible negative impact on the environment.

24. State policy in the area of environmental development is carried out in accordance with the action plan for the implementation of these Principles, approved by the Government of the Russian Federation.

25. Targets for the implementation of the main objectives of the State policy in the area of environmental development, and the quantitative values to achieve them, are determined in the main areas of activity of the Government of the Russian Federation, the concepts of long-term socio-economic development of the Russian Federation in the respective periods, as well as in federal and regional programmes in the field of environmental protection and environmental safety.

26. Financing of the implementation of the State policy in the area of environmental development is carried out at the expense of the federal budget, the budgets of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation and local budgets, as well as by means of extrabudgetary sources, including through public-private partnership.


3 comments: