Igor Kapyrin,
Deputy Director of European Cooperation,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

In September-November 2021 the EU Delegation in Moscow with the support of the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia is presenting in various cities of the Russian North-West an impressive exhibition entitled “Together”. This exhibition shows the achievements of the cross-border cooperation between several regions of my country and regions of neighboring EU Member-States – Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland – and Norway. This effort based on shared objectives is strongly supported by the large-scale transnational Interreg Baltic Sea Region Program, which reflects our reciprocal responsibility for the future of our common heritage – the Baltic Sea.

Through this exhibition the Russian partners show their stories of success achieved together with their colleagues within various projects. Despite the fact that the objectives of these programs are based, for ones, on the EU Baltic sea strategy and, for others, – on the Strategy of socio-economic development of the North-West Russia, they define common priorities and implement their goals looking at the future.

Is it possible to achieve important results acting alone?

The general trend in the Baltics is to act together through multiple instruments of cooperation. We are all different but we share a common principle-based framework elaborated for States, governmental and non-governmental entities in the domain of sustainable development. It is the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) setting forth the 17 goals that are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.

These universal goals resonate in several national programs and initiatives led at different levels.

As for Russia, at the UN Political Forum of summer 2020, the country presented for the first time its Voluntary National Report on the progress in achieving the 17 SDGs of the 2030 Agenda. Moreover, at the end of September 2021, the Russian government adopted the decree “On the approval of criteria for development projects in the Russian Federation and methodological guidelines aimed at achieving the goals and main directions of sustainable (including green) development in the Russian Federation”. This document includes specific criteria for “green” and adaptation projects, as well as a set of requirements for the system of verification of these projects in the Russian Federation. These efforts run in parallel with the EU Green deal.

In addition to introducing green taxonomy in Russia, this new legal framework correlates with some of the main global business trends. We see a rising interest in circular economy models. Also, decarbonization leads to structural changes in the global economy, financial flows are directed toward the development of green sectors, low-carbon resource-efficient technologies, and the creation of “green” jobs.

Today, more and more Russian companies are becoming conscious of their responsibility and prioritize the SDGs, forming a new business ecosystem based on the implementation of the UN Global Compact principles. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to do. Among the key leverages, the following ones need to be highlighted: financial, methodological, and legal instruments; collaboration between neighbors; implementation of cutting edge technologies and “know-how”.

As mentioned above, to accelerate this process and to become a competitive actor at the international stage the government understands its crucial role in providing financial support, elaborating methodology, and normative rules for Russian businesses. Such reforms are intended to encourage companies to change their business models and to shift their focus on eco-friendly activities, issues related to social corporate responsibility, and “green” investment.

Besides, the federal and regional authorities are prepared to work on the implementation of the SDGs at the regional level. In light of this, a logical question arises “how can one make it possible”? One of the main tools in this process is collaboration with innovative counterparts across the Baltic sea. Within the framework of the cooperation programs for 2021-2027, the participating countries are coping with numerous “green” issues, including the development of circular economy and the government’s responsibility towards the environment.

There are already several cutting-edge BSR Program projects in this area, e.g. Baltic Industrial Symbiosis (BIS) (budget: €2.5 Mio) and Cities.multimodal – urban transport system in transition towards low carbon mobility (budget: €3.78 Mio). Within the first project, young innovators from St. Petersburg together with other European partners have created LivingLabBIS in the first eco-industrial park in Russia, established in the Leningrad region on the principles of industrial symbiosis. This project involves the creation of a connection between companies from different industries to use one company’s waste, in the form of e.g. energy, ingredients or materials, as a resource for the next company. The main focus is made on elaborating options for recycling and disposal of organic waste. Within the framework of the project “Cities.multimodal” together with partners from 17 Hanseatic cities, the Pskov administration is working on the development of a multimodal transport system of the city and has developed Russia’s first Sustainable Development Plan for the city with the integration of the 17 SDGs. In the long run thanks to such local initiatives, it will be possible to achieve visible and tangible results.

At the EUSBSR Annual Forum in September and at the Strategic Forum in St-Petersburg in October 2021 we discuss the ways to become more competitive, green and attractive together for the benefit of our citizens.

In the Baltic area as in other regions partial or unilateral solutions cannot be sustainable.

The recovery of the global economy from the current pandemics will be linked to a green reset, involving active governmental support, stimulation of green investments, and building a low-carbon economy that will be more resilient in the face of the future climate, economic, social shocks. We’ll do it together.

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