Voici l'essentiel (version anglaise) de la déclaration du Président Vladimir Poutine lors de la réunion de ce jour visant à dessiner les contours d'une biopolitique réelle, et l'ardente obligation de sa mise en oeuvre effective.
State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations
Colleagues, good afternoon,
Our agenda today includes the challenge of Russia’s gradual transition to a sustainable development model, not simply sustainable development, but environmentally sustainable development. I want to stress that we are discussing economic development, but with a focus on environmental issues.
This issue is crucial, above all, to improving the efficiency of the national economy, on the one hand, and at the same time to improving the quality of life for our people, and achieving the potential of our regions, on the other.
I will remind you that 2017 has been declared the Year of the Environment, and environmental protection has been included in the recently approved National Science and Technology Development Strategy as a priority.
It is clear that this policy is for the long term – for the next 20, 30 years or more. But, unless we start moving, we will go in circles forever complaining that we do not have enough money to address the current issues, and we will never get around to strategic issues. We cannot delay this any longer.
I also want to emphasize that Russia’s huge, no exaggeration, huge resource potential, is of truly planetary significance. Our country has huge reserves of fresh water and forests, and great biodiversity; it serves as an ecological donor for the world, providing it with nearly 10 percent of its biosphere sustainability.
Back in the early 20th century, Vladimir Vernadsky warned that the time would come when people would have to assume responsibility for human, as well as environmental development. There is no doubt that this time has come. Humanity already owes an enormous debt to the environment and continues to test its limits, which is affecting people. Although I would rather not speak about it, I feel compelled to say that outdoor and indoor air pollution claims the lives of 7 to 8 million people every year. These are ominous and alarming figures. This has a direct bearing on our country. In a number of areas, the environmental stress has reached a critical point. This costs our economy up to 6 percent of GDP every year, or up to 15 percent if we factor in the health costs.
I would like to highlight some of the most urgent environmental issues that need to be addressed as a matter of priority. Achieving drastic reductions in emissions of hazardous substances into the air, water and soil is a major issue. This can be done by reequipping industry and implementing the best available technology. A number of big corporations have already launched environment protection programmes. However, we are also aware of the fact that not all companies pay due regard to these issues.
Of course, as I said in the beginning, this requires investment, but we have to understand that eco-friendly technology is not only a priority but also brings about tangible economic benefits. I expect the business community to heed my words: the implementation of this technology should not be delayed. We can no long afford to put these issues on the back burner. It was decided to roll back some initiatives, as I will explain later, but there will be no further adjustments. Let me add that implementing the best available technology can serve Russian companies and the economy in general as a powerful incentive for boosting performance and competitiveness.
I would like to call on the ministries and agencies in charge of issuing norms and regulations regarding such technology: you need to ensure that they are being issued in a timely manner and taking into account that companies need a reasonable timeframe for implementing them, which means that norms and regulations should be issued well in advance. Let me reiterate that it is impossible to keep putting this issue on the back burner.
The situation with hazardous emissions remains critical. Half of the city population breathes highly polluted air. Vehicles, both personal and public, contribute 50 to 90 percent. A significant part of open water is classified as polluted or extremely polluted. Seven percent of residents have no access to quality drinking water. Soil condition is worsening in nearly all regions. If we continue to limit the solution to half-measures and prioritise other objectives, the emissions and greenhouse gases will reach a critical level by 2050. We understand very well what this means. This means that we will leave the future generations an environment unfit for living. Therefore, we must reduce pollution and emissions by at least 50 percent.
Environmental education and awareness is an important area for improvement. So far, the term “environmental education” has not been fixed by law. Environmental pollution data is scarce and disappears in various agencies while summary estimates of air pollution are calculated for major cities of only 12 Russian regions. These obstacles make the nationwide environmental monitoring difficult, to say nothing about long-term forecasts. I would like to hear today what you think should be done to change the situation.
Another important task is treatment of industrial and consumer waste, which now totals over 30 billion tonnes. Rubbish is disposed without any order and landfills take up almost 48,000 hectares. As you know, strict rules for the disposal and treatment of household waste have been introduced by law; however, the effective date has been postponed. I would like to hear about drafting of necessary documents and what has been done for the public to learn more about this innovation.
I would like the speakers to pay special attention to processing high-risk waste.
Furthermore, and this is always mentioned in various statements on this subject and in this year’s Address [to the Federal Assembly] too, individuals and public organisations should be actively involved in social projects, including the resolution of environmental issues. As I have said, officials should not hide from people in their offices. Obviously, the public wants and has the right to take part in environmental, educational and other specific actions aimed at improving the quality of their lives and upgrading their courtyards, parks and squares. I am simply convinced that confidence in public initiatives, as well as dialogue and partnership with public organisations are very important for developing a high-level environmental culture in the country.
I would like to ask Mr Ivanov, chairman of the Organising Committee for the Year of the Environment in Russia, to take responsibility for environmental projects with the participation of volunteers, including those from the Russian Geographical Society (RGS) and other associations.
Colleagues, I have mentioned only some of the many questions that require our attention. I believe they will be discussed in other reports and speeches. I am referring to such issues as energy saving, and the preservation of forests, water, unique natural sites and rare flora and fauna species. It is also necessary to carry out energy saving and ecological recovery programmes at national sites like the Volga River, Lake Baikal, and Lake Teletskoye in Altai.
I would like to ask the speakers to focus on measures and proposals to improve the situation, which we can and must implement in the near future.
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