New Environmental Strategy Points to Medvedev's Future Role
9 May 2012 - 09:40 by OOSKAnews Correspondent
MOSCOW, Russia — As one of his last acts as president of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev on April 30 launched a new environmental strategy for the country.
As the re-inauguration of Vladimir Putin is now only days away, many Russians believe that the publication of this strategy document points to one aspect of Medvedev’s future role within government. Although much lower profile than what he has been known for in the past four years, environmental work is one of his personal interests.
The strategy document, “Principles of State Policy on Environmental Development of the Russian Federation until 2030,” covers a wide range of environmental threats in the country, with a special focus on wastewater.
This was recognized as a major problem that will get worse unless effective action is taken and there is a commitment to improve treatment facilities.
Russia faces an acute environmental crisis that is the result of long-term structural problems. First, the Soviet Union disregarded almost all environmental concerns in its demand for industrial growth, and this has left scars dotted across the landscape.
Second, as Soviet-era infrastructure degrades, a second wave of pollution is striking, and several scandals in recent years have put human health at risk.
There has been gradual recognition in Russia that failure to tackle environmental problems is hampering economic growth and acting as a drag on increasing standards of living. The Russian government has based much of its credibility on satisfying its people while keeping from them many basic political freedoms.
The new strategy document presents a more “joined-up” approach to environmental protection than anything yet seen in Russia. Most notable in this is the recognition that landfill sites for solid waste from large towns and cities are increasingly poisoning freshwater supplies as they overflow due to lack of replacements.
Making sewage treatment a priority for protection of water assets in Russia has been welcomed by water industry specialists, but the new strategy document fails to answer several key questions, such as how this will be funded, by whom and in what way it will link together with the Clean Water program already being implemented across the country.