The seventeenth issue of the MCUR Digest has been published, dedicated to the important news in the environmental and social spheres that occurred at the end of 2021.
The Digest of the MGIMO Centre for Sustainable Development and ESG Transformation is a regular information source accumulating the main news in the sphere of sustainable development and ESG transformation, responsible finance and climate agenda, from Russia and all over the world.
The seventeenth issue is focused on the latest news in the area of environmental safety and social initiatives to achieve the SDGs that were in the spotlight at the end of 2021. The originals of the news are available via active links in the text.
Environmental safety legislative initiatives
The codification and systematization of environmental laws is a prerequisite for the creation of an effective and transparent legislative framework in the field of environmental protection in Russia. One of the possible vectors of development in this area is the preparation of a single set of laws that will include all norms related to nature protection and combating climate change. Svetlana Radionova, the Head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources, supported the idea of developing a unified Environmental Code in the next three years. Earlier the Chairwoman of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko has already stated the need to bring numerous environmental laws into a single document. It should be noted that Environmental Codes were adopted in developed European countries — such as France, Sweden, Italy, as well as in a number of former Soviet republics, like Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Moreover, there is a Model Environmental Code for the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
While a single Environmental Code has not been adopted yet, environmental legislation is being improved at the level of individual institutions. For example, after the accident at the Norilsk Nickel CHPP-3 last spring, dubbed by the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations as the largest accident in the last decade worldwide, the need to tighten legislation to prevent future oil spills became obvious. As the respond, in December a law on fines of up to 1,000,000 rubles in cases when a company conceals the fact of an oil spill or provides false information about it was passed. In addition, the Code of Administrative Offences has been supplemented with a new article imposing sanctions for violations in the field of oil spills prevention.
Furthermore, an article on the responsibility of polluting enterprises for non-compliance or untimely fulfillment of the requirements for equipping stationary sources of emissions and discharges of pollutants with automatic control systems appeared in the Code. The fines of up to 40,000 rubles for public officials and up to 200,000 rubles for legal entities were introduced respectively.
Other relevant news:
Solutions for environmental problems
The elimination of accumulated municipal solid waste (MSW) and the development of a waste recycling system remains one of the most pressing issues for Russia. Over the past year, 22 landfills across the country were liquidated as a part of the national project “Ecology”. The largest urban landfill in Europe in the Chelyabinsk region was reclaimed – as a result, emissions of harmful substances in Chelyabinsk decreased by 20%.
In the Green Rating of the Russian Environmental Operator (REO), which demonstrates the progress of the MSW treatment reform in the regions of the Russian Federation, the Moscow Region ranked first. More details about the rating methodology can be found on the official REO website. Moscow and Saint Petersburg were not included in the rating, since these cities took advantage of a three-year postponement of the reform. The MSW treatment reform will commence in federal cities on January 1, 2022.
The most important condition for the success of the reform is an increase in the level of culture of the population and public awareness. According to a study carried out by the Russian Environmental Operator, 55% of Russians understand the point of waste sorting. Nevertheless, only 39% of respondents use their knowledge in practice. Earlier it was reported that by the end of 2021 the share of sorted household waste in Russia exceeded 40%, and by 2030 it was planned to send 100% of waste for sorting. According to other sources, no more than 7% of MSW in Russia is recycled.
The issue of state financing for the construction of incineration plants remains debatable. The Russian branch of Greenpeace insists on withdrawing budget support for any projects which imply waste incineration. Last March a petition against incineration of waste was signed by 100,000 Russians. The public debate was heated up by information in the media about the proposal of the Ministry of Industry and Trade to allocate 37.55 billion rubles from the budget for the construction of waste incineration plants.
Rosatom has started the construction of the first two eco-technoparks for the recycling waste of ecological hazard classes I and II. The facilities are located in the Kurgan and Saratov regions, and are planned to be commissioned at the end of 2022. In total, seven eco-technoparks for processing waste containing lead, mercury, organic fuel and other chemicals are planned to be put into operation in Russia by 2025. The design capacity of each facility will be 50,000 tons of waste of classes I and II.
The editorial board of the MGIMO student magazine Mezhdunarodnik presents an online project “Ecology: from the state to each of us”. A special section of the website contains more than 20 materials about the role that ecology plays today in politics, economics and art, and most importantly – in our daily lives. The project was prepared with the support of the MGIMO Goes Green Club and the University Endowment.
Other relevant news:
Social policy and initiatives
The International Human Rights Day is celebrated on December 10. Every year the UN determines the main theme of the day, this year it is dedicated to equality issues and the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. The UN noted that ensuring human rights and preventing division in society is especially important in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The need to respect human rights when more and more states are beginning to consider mandatory vaccination is an extremely urgent topic. Speaking about calls for mandatory vaccination, Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that great caution should be demonstrated in this matter, taking into account all the possible consequences of such measures. In addition, WHO has recommended postponing universal vaccination of children and adolescents, since there are fewer cases of serious diseases in this age group, and broad vaccination coverage of vulnerable groups of the population has not yet been achieved in many states.
The International Day of Epidemic Preparedness is celebrated annually on December 27. It was established by the UN General Assembly in November 2020. In his New Year’s Day address, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for international unity in combatting the coronavirus pandemic and ensuring economic recovery, which is a prerequisite for the return to normal life and peace on the Earth.
Other news on the topic:
Follow the Digest on the MCUR website https://mcur-mgimo.ru/!
A.A.Avramenko, Associate Professor of the Department of International Complex Problems of Nature Management and Ecology
Egor Solovey (3rd year-student of FPEC-Ecology)
Editors-in-chief: A.A.Avramenko, Sofia Denisova (FPEC’20)
Designer: Maria Bakhireva (4th year-student of FPEC-Ecology)
The point of view of the MGIMO Centre for Sustainable Development and ESG Transformation may differ from the opinions of the authors of the news cited in the analytical publication. All materials are for reference only, and the MCUR is not responsible for their implementation in practice. The links to news sources used in the compilation of the MCUR Digest are indicated in the text and are active only in online format. The Digest does not use external copyrighted materials or reproduce them. If you have any questions, please contact: email@example.com.
The MCUR Digest is being issued as part of the implementation of the strategic academic leadership program “Priority 2030”.
Department of International Complex Problems of Nature Management and Ecology
MGIMO Centre for Sustainable Development and ESG Transformation