Strategic Environmental Assessment of regional development projects should be conducted in Kamchatka
Strategic environment assessment (SEA) is a suite of decision support processes which ensure that environmental and socio-economic consequences of environmental degradation are considered effectively in policy making. Although SEA is fairly new to Russia, it has been utilized in many countries all over the world for decades.
During the training, the participants used methods and approaches to assess the new strategy for regional socio-economic development in Kamchatka. WWF-Russia presented study guides published in 2017 on the framework of the joint project of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. One of the guides, for example, provides methods to assess Energy Development Programmes. It is very timely for Kamchatka due to the plans of Novatek (the natural gas producing company) to build an LNG terminal on the eastern coast of Kamchatka.
However, importantly, representatives of Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resource Usage and Federal Fishery Agency did participate in the event, as well as scientists from research institutes. These scientists evaluated risks of possible implementation of different projects using the framework of the legislated Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
As distinguished from EIA, SEA gives a boarder understanding of the consequences of adopting plans, allows stakeholders to see the risks in the early stages, and suggests alternative ways of development. A well-organized SEA helps to:
- prevent serious mistakes which can be very costly for the environment and government in the future;
- prevent conflicts and establish cooperation between all parties concerned, including the public, scientists, and businesses;
- conduct a joint impact assessment;
- lower the price and heighten the efficiency of EIAs conducted in future;
- increase investment attractiveness of a region.
SEA has been used in more than 50 countries in the past 10-15 years. In Australia and Canada, for example, SEA is legislated, while in other countries, such as Sierra-Leone, Republic of South Africa, Kenya, and Mongolia, SEA is encouraged voluntarily by the government.
Russia currently has experience with regional SEAs in Amur and Transbaikal. It is expected that in the near future, the State Duma will consider legislation introduced by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment which establishes obligatory SEAs throughout the whole territory of Russia.