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The Conference on the Local Sustainable Initiatives and Public Participation in the Gulf of Finland Region” in St.Petersburg

The Russian-Estonian conference “Local Sustainable Initiatives and Public Participation in the Gulf of Finland Region” took place in St.Petersburg on September 30 and October 1 and presented experiences of North-West Russia and Estonia on the local solutions in the field od waste management, nature protection, energy saving, etc. The conference was held by Friends of the Baltic NGO in cooperation with Estonian Society for Nature Conservation, St.Petersburg Centre for Environmental Initiatives and Russian Geographic Society with the support of the US Embassy in Moscow

The Russian-Estonian conference “Local Sustainable Initiatives and Public Participation in the Gulf of Finland Region” took place in St.Petersburg on September 30 and October 1 and presented experiences of North-West Russia and Estonia on the local solutions in the field od waste management, nature protection, energy saving, etc. The conference was held by Friends of the Baltic NGO in cooperation with Estonian Society for Nature Conservation, St.Petersburg Centre for Environmental Initiatives and Russian Geographic Society with the support of the US Embassy in Moscow.
This conference became the key event of the long-term program of Russian-Estonian cooperation, which was started in 2000 by Friends of the Baltic and Estonian Society for Nature Conservation. The conference was devoted to the exchange experience and learning best environmentally friendly practices on the local level in the North-West Russia and Estonia, finding new contacts and discussion of future co-operation.
Conference participants shared experience and discussed prospects for NGO work in Russia and Estonia for promotion of the following issues: sustainable coastal development, sustainable energy and transport solutions, sustainable management of household wastes, sustainable river basin management and water protection, and environmentally friendly tourism in the Gulf of Finland region.
Sustainable coast development issue was considered in the lecture of Georgij Gogoberidze (Department of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, Russian Hydro -Meteorological University - RHMU) in the focus of two projects – Primorsk oil terminal and “Sea Facade of St.Petersburg” (establishing new passenger ferry terminal and other coastal objects on the artificial alluvial area). Both projects showed the conflict between industrial pressure to coastal zone and protection of nature and interests of coastal citizens.
Positive steps for coastal protection were made within the international program “Blue Flag” – environmental certification of beaches and boats. No beaches in Leningrad region are certified with Blue Flag. As Olga Madison (Keep St.Petersburg Tidy) said, some boats have already implemented set of environmental conditions and got the Blue Flag. Report of Alexey Nekrasov and Viktoria Grigoryeva (RHMU) showed results of investigation of the Gulf of Finland within Russian-Estonian program by the sailing catamaran Centaurus II.
Natalia Tropina (Narva Society for Nature Conservation) presented survey of local sustainable initiatives in Estonia in the energy issue: development of new technologies for burning shale at the Narva Power Station, establishing wind power generators in the Ida-Virumaa region; new steps for promotion sustainable transport: in particular, development electric municipal transport in Narva. More environmentally friendly initiatives in Estonia were held by NGOs in the field of environmental education, cleaning and protection of rural and urban green areas.
The information presented by Igor Babanin (SPb Greenpeace) and Aivar Vaino (Narva Municipality) showed actuality and possibilities for separate waste collection and recycling both in Russia and Estonia. As Igor Babanin said, this experience shows that 25 % citizens are ready to collect garbage separately, 50% more are the target group for education.
Olga Senova (Friends of the Baltic) showed first successful examples on application of wind and bio-fuel energy in the North-West Russia. Those examples and investigations of renewable energy resources show that application of wind, bio-fuel, bio-gas, and geothermal energy resources is very prospective and should be included in the regional energy strategy. Wind resource on the Gulf of Finland coast is optimal for wind engines. Private owners of wind engines in Leningrad region get about 40-50% of the electric energy needed from wind energy. Existing technologies of producing bio-gas from household wastes can produce 200 m3 from 1 ton of waste. Estonian experience may be interesting for the North-West Russia, because development of renewables became one of the priorities of the Estonian national energy policy according to the EU demands.
Alexander Fedorov (Centre for Environmental Initiatives, St.Petersburg), concentrated his presentation on sustainable solutions to transport-related environmental problems in St.Petersburg, and NGO contribution in activities to improve the situation. He paid special attention to promotion of public transportation, bicycling, creation of green corridors, protection of walking possibilities in the city, and preservation of green areas. In his report, the variety of activity forms of different NGOs in Russia was presented.
The report of Arvo Iital (Tallinn Polytechnic University) about water protection in Estonia was commented by Arvo Raudsepp (Estonian Society for Nature Conservation). The main problem for eutrophication of the Gulf of Finland is connected mainly with phosphorus load to the rivers and coastal water. It is necessary to develop new treatment technologies for reducing concentration of phosphorus in the sewage waters.
Natalia Alexeeva (Centre for Transboundary Co-operation) spoke about development of the programme for integrated management of water resources of Lake Peipus basin. The draft programme will be presented in the end of 2005 to the Russian-Estonian Committee for Transboundary Waters.
Vera Ovcharenko (Friends of the Baltic) shared results of public monitoring of the river basins in St.Petersburg and Leningrad region within the River Watch program of Coalition Clean Baltic, and the experience in the field of public participation for rivers protection.
Alexander Shkrebets (TEIA) presented experience of St.Petersburg Centre for Environmental Information for supporting local sustainable initiatives in the various field, providing citizens with environmental information.
The presentation by Priit Orav, who established a camping in the old farm in Eastern Estonia near Sillamae, received a special interest of conference participants. He spoke about Estonian experience in development of network of rural guest houses and Association of rural tourism. Yurij Shevchuk (Green Cross NGO) spoke about the first steps for promotion of rural tourism in the Leningrad region.
Development of Russian-Estonian rural tourist network became one of the main theme, which was discussed during then second day of the Conference by Russian and Estonian partners – Friends of the Baltic, Centre for Environmental Initiatives, and Estonian Society for Nature Conservation. This network should foster the development of environmentally friendly tourist business in the coastal area, support development of bicycle tourism and bicycle as environmentally friendly transport. Rural guest houses may be the model for application of environmentally friendly technologies for energy and waste management and other environmentally friendly housing technologies.
The Russian-Estonian Conference became important steps in development of transboundary co-operation for better environment of the Gulf of Finland basin and the Baltic Sea Region on the whole and gave the start for several ideas of common projects.

The conference proceedings are published by Friends of the Baltic (in Russian) линк на тезисы докладов

For more information contact Friends of the Baltic NGO

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e-mail: olga-senova@yandex.ru

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