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Public participation / Case study: ICZM in northwestern Russia
Different administrative regions of the Russian Federation (RF) can be distinguished bordering the sea in the Northwest Russia:
- St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Oblast (coastline of the Baltic Sea);
- the Karelian Republic (coastline of the White Sea);
- Murmansk and Arkhangelsk Oblast (coastline of the White and the Barents Seas);
- the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (coastline of the south-east Barents Sea, the so called Pechora Sea).
The state of the art in the field of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) varies over these different regions. Main reason for this is that there is no special state agency responsible for ICZM in the Russiona federation. A proper structure and accounting authorities of state institutions are not present.
The most important actors in the field of ICZM are the following:
- Industrial (both State and Joint Stock) Enterprises
- State Committees for Natural Resources of federal, regional and municipal levels. These organisations are responsible for providing the state environmental policy at a certain areas (as it is usually said in Russia "at the places").
- Science and knowledge related institutes
- Environmental (usually Joint Stock) Companies working on ecological issues for commercial profit. These are usually well equipped with computers and office facilities and skilled personnel employed (e.g. JSC ECOPROJECT, KONTO and ECOSERVICE in St. Petersburg).
- Non-governmental organisation (NGO) aimed on environmental protection and nature conservation. These are mostly distributed in large centres (e.g. St. Petersburg: Baltic Fund for Nature with its Branch in Petrozavodsk - capital of the Karelian Republic) or in settlements with critical environmental situation due to environmental awareness of local population (e.g. Skalisty city in the Murmansk Oblast: NGO "Save the North", Kingisepp District of the Leningrad Oblast: NGO "Clean World", etc.).
- International organisations. These have their partners in the Northwest Russia (e.g. IUCN, EUCC, WWF, CCB, BirdLife International, etc.) and popularise the World (or European) nature protection approach among local authorities, specialists and population in general.
- Non-organised public worried with environmental problems. This actor appears at the ICZM stage only in the case of ecologically dangerous industrial activity in the nearest surroundings of its settlement. Nowadays participation in public affairs (rather popular in the Soviet times) is completely unpopular (the majority of people are working for profit but not for "idea").
Influence of public on decision making process
Non-organised public worried with environmental problems may influence the ICZM process mainly in the course of various EIA. It should be underlined once more that the process of EIA in contemporary Russia is one of the most important instruments of general public influence on decision making. The Russian EIA procedure includes five stages, one of them being "Public discussions on the Decisions on the Project". The whole list of documents, necessary for the Russian EIA includes more than two dozen stages. Main documents of Stage 3 concerning public discussions on the Decisions on the Project are:
- Document No. 20. Announcement on the Public Discussions on the Decisions on the Project;
- Document No. 21. List of Remarks and Proposals to the Decisions on the Project Implementation and Their Realisation (at the stage of Investment Feasibility Study [TEOi stage]) and to the List of Ecological Conditions for Termination of Work on the Decisions on the Project Implementation and Their Realisation.
- Document No. 22. Results of Public Discussions.
Another succesfull instrument of general public influence on the decision making process is a "green movement" well combined with an organised presentation of information in mass media (especially in TV programs).
Main bottle-necks in Russian public participation
The main problems concerning public participation in the ICZM process in todays Russia can be summarised as follows:
- structural economical crisis in Russia which causes a deficiency in financing of activities aimed at sustainable development like nature conservation and ICZM policy co-ordination.
- absence of enforcement of the governmental and commercial sector on matters related to ICZM
- lack of tradition in "ecological" behaviour among population, and, with that, also little awareness amongst the public on ICZM related issues
- weak provision of information to the actors in ICZM
- lack of democratic decisions in the planning process of municipalities
- supporting and initiating NGO's work mainly on a project basis. Continuity of ICZM processes is not secured in that way.
Future developments in Russia with respect to ICZM will focus on the following issues:
- development and enforcement of normative-legal base,
- development of economical and administrative instruments,
Summarising all above-stated one may conclude that situation with the ICZM process in the Northwest Russia is rather complicated but not hopeless.