RESULTS OF THE FIFTH ALL-RUSSIAN CONGRESS OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
The Fifth All-Russian Congress on Environmental Protection, first of all, dedicated to discussing the state of management in the sphere of environmental protection and nature was held from December 12 to December 14. The event, announced by the organizers as the largest discussion platform for the professional environmental community at which consolidated decisions on the development of the environmental sphere would be made, according to experts, did not justify its purpose.
Unlike previous congresses, which purpose was to develop recommendations for changing the industry, the section of the congress of the current year was held in the format of reports and did not imply a discussion part. Recommendations for the resolution of the Congress, presented at the final plenary meeting, were prepared practically without the participation of environmental organizations and the public, and were of a formal nature. Some members of the drafting committee were not able to participate in the discussion of the draft resolution: its composition at the congress was not approved and in fact remained unknown, and the text of the document was sent to the participants after the congress was over. Also during the voting, some of the delegates faced difficulties: when trying to vote "against" a technical failure occurred. According to experts, the final document reflects mainly the tasks assigned to the Ministry of Natural Resources, but insufficiently highlighted the problems that are typical for all regions (waste recycling, protection of wildlife), as well as ways to address them.
Preparations for the congress started just a few months before the opening day, because of which changes were made to the program at the last moment. The first edition of the business program consisted mainly of sections initiated by the key energy and subsoil users of Russia. The program lacked topics on specially protected natural areas, the problems of environmental legislation development, and the work of non-governmental organizations, which caused outrage among environmentalists.
The subjects of the sections were focused on the industrial ecology; issues of specially protected natural areas and wildlife protection were presented only in three sections. From the sections "Strategic approaches to biodiversity conservation in the implementation of major infrastructure projects" and "Business and Biodiversity: Practical Solutions and Best Practices", the draft resolution of the Congress included recommendations for the creation of a national platform "Business and Biodiversity" under the auspices of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia. The goal of such a platform is to reduce direct pressures on ecosystems and promote their sustainable use by engaging business and integrating biodiversity conservation into corporate development strategies and programs in a way that contributes to meeting Russia's obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the strengthening our cooperation within the BRICS. In the meantime, Julia Carbonet, Deputy Director, IUCN Global Business and Biodiversity Programme, noted that without the active involvement of non-governmental organizations in the activities of the platform, as well as the clear formulation of indicators and indicators of its work, the platform will inevitably lead to "greenwashing" - "laundering" of reputation regardless of actual results.
The section "International, non-profit and scientific organizations as drivers of environmental dialogue", initiated by WWF and UNDP, was conceived as a platform for summing up and elaborating a vector for further development. However, the format proposed by the organizers of the Congress did not allow solving the tasks set completely.
Speaking at the final plenary meeting, Minister Sergei Donskoi summed up the Year of Ecology and promised to consider the final resolution of the Congress as a guide to action. However, the results of the implementation of the resolution of the previous congress were not summed up and the reasons for their low effectiveness were not analyzed: according to WWF estimates, out of 102 declared items only 30 were fully implemented and about 30 were still being implemented.
"Unfortunately, the congress could not become a platform for an open dialogue between the authorities and the expert community, and without discussion and criticism it is impossible to analyze and improve the effectiveness of the work. The goals and objectives of the final resolution are formulated in general, which means that the executors will easily escape from public control over their implementation," said Evgeny Shvarts, Director of Conservation Policy of WWF-Russia.
The All-Russian Congress on Environmental Protection is held every four years. Representatives of the federal, regional and municipal levels of government, international, public, scientific and educational organizations, large companies take part in the work of the congress.
Photo in the announcement: (c) TASS