Photo: Voschinin Andrey/GeoPhoto.ru
Ecological Monitoring Agency Highlights Russia’s Environmental Issues
On 10 November 2021, Members of the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament met with Svetlana Radionova, Head of the Russian Federal Service for the Oversight of Natural Resources, a government agency tasked with monitoring the environment and ensuring the compliance of business with effective environmental regulations. Ms Radionova talked about key duties performed by the agency and answered questions by Senators. Below is a recap of the main points made during the discussion.
- The Norilsk oil spill has highlighted some important structural issues affecting the dialog between big business and the government, as well as the ability of the Service to do its job. For instance, the existing environmental audit protocols were found to contradict each other, which means that they should be harmonized as soon as possible. The agency expects to finalize the harmonization process within the next 6 months.
- Another matter of concern is the widespread corporate practice of keeping the government (and the Agency as its representative) in the dark as regards environmental incidents. The most affected regions where such practices have become common are those located in the Russian Arctic, including the Nenets Autonomous District and the Komi Republic. According to Ms. Radionova, such practices should become increasingly punishable. However, the Service is far from intending to launch a “war on business”: engaging in a meaningful dialog with corporations is seen as a preferred solution to the issue.
- The garbage disposal challenge is still one of the most pressing ones. The government should take urgent steps to prevent Russia “from turning into a huge landfill”. To this end, it should make further efforts to reform the MSW treatment system, with priority given to recycling rather than disposal.
- Digitization is high on the agency’s agenda for the near future. Russia’s digital environmental map is expected to be ready by 2023, which will enable the Service to move away from “manual” control, thus drastically improving its performance. Designing an emission monitoring system is yet another key task to be accomplished in the short-term perspective.
- In terms of the agency’s long-term priorities, preserving biodiversity is second only to the issue of climate change. Unfortunately, we are seeing large-scale uncontrolled exportation of rare plant and animal species from Russia -- a major blow to biodiversity. Steps are to be taken to restore and replenish biodiversity.
11 November 2021