Ideas of the Green Silk Road Initiative were supported by the key foreign policy think tank in the field of Sino-Russian relations. Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) recently published an official report of the Second International Conference “Russia and China: Taking on a New Quality of Bilateral Relations” that consisted mostly of present and former foreign affairs officials and political science experts. The event was dedicated to mutual adjustment of Eurasian Economic Union and the Belt and Road Initiative.The WWF-Russia with support from other RwB members invested time and effort into forming an "Environmental Session" at that conference. This was the first time that environment was discussed as one of key items at Sino-Russian political conference.
Despite the fact that details of the Environmental Session of the Conference was not reflected in the text of the Event Report, the recommendations developed by that Session were in full included on pages 61-62 of the Report Document as part of overall Conclusions\Recommendations Section:
33. Despite the crucial importance of environmental issues, discussion of this area in the Russia-China dialogue is marginal. Bilateral cooperation should strictly comply with the interests of both countries and with the Sustainable Development Goals adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015. The current legal foundations of the bilateral relations cannot fully ensure the implementation of the task. 34. In order to fully comply with the Sustainable Development Goals and to ensure harmonious economic development while preserving the key ecosystems and the opportunities they afford, the following mechanisms should be used:
· conducting strategic environmental assessment of the programmes for the socioeconomic development of those regions which could accommodate large projects, including infrastructure projects, and transboundary development programmes. The Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (the Espoo Convention) and the Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment to the Espoo Convention could be used as the appropriate mechanisms; ▪
· complying with the requirements of the UN Economic Commission for Europe’s Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention);
· ▪ implementing the conventions on biological diversity to which Russia and China are parties;
▪ complying with the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, given the importance of preserving fresh water reserves and of sustainable management of international catchment areas, including those at the Russia-China border and in East Asia;
· ▪ fully taking into account the transboundary effects of manufacturing and of air, soil, and water pollution when implementing joint projects of Russia and China;
· ▪ promptly drafting minimal (basic) requirements and standards for social and environmental responsibility that would apply to any (international) investment projects in the regions of joint activities, given the large variety of financial institutions, including newly-founded development banks and specialized foundations intended to invest across Eurasia under various integration initiatives. Such standards should take into account the best global practices and they will stimulate the development of “green” economy, primarily in energy efficiency, efficient use of resources, “clean” modes of transportation, and “green” energy.
· ▪ Investors and financial institutions, including national and international institutions and development banks, should strictly comply with the principles of the abovementioned international mechanisms. Rating agencies should take into account compliance with such principles when awarding credit ratings.
Russian version : http://russiancouncil.ru/common/upload/Conference-Report-RUCN2016-Ru.pdf
Probably our recommendations also influenced Analytical Paper on Strategic Planning of Russia–China Relations in Cross-Border and Inter-Regional Cooperation prepared by expert of the same Council which among other things calls for:
- -developing and correcting long-term strategic plans, providing for social and environmental evaluation as part of strategic environmental assessment; taking the results of scientific forecasts of anthropogenic impact into account when implementing transportation and energy projects;
-continuing joint efforts to preserve and expand nature reserves, implement special environmental programmes for preserving biodiversity in the beds and catchment basins of the border rivers and lakes;
– creating an efficient joint prompt response, alert and emergency management system.
In order to implement these proposals, the appropriate state agencies and the expert community should begin joint work on strategic planning of Russia–China cross-border and interregional cooperation.”
Anyway it is a hopeful start for introducing environmental considerations into agenda of international policy makers on the Silk Road.