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International Conference ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY: NATURE AND SOCIETY – 2004

On April 2-3, 2004, the International Conference ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY: NATURE AND SOCIETY was held in St.Petersburg, Russia. The Conference was organised by the Centre for Environmental Initiatives, Interregional Youth NGO Children of the Baltic, the Russian State Hydrometeorological University, the Russian Geographical Society.
St.Petersburg and Vladivostok, Moscow and Yakutiya, Estonia and Moldova, Finland and Armenia, the USA and Sweden - 12 countries and different regions of Russia were represented at the conference. The specific feature of the conference was the fact that its participants represented different sectors of the society: non-governmental and governmental organisations, research and educational institutions, and mass media.
The human impact on the environment is so considerable at present that its consequences are of planetary scale and bring threats to human civilisation. Are there any ways of survival and prosperity? What are these mechanisms? All these questions are the essence of the problem of "environmental safety," and were discussed by the Conference participants.
Serious attention was paid to nature protection in Russia, where negative tendencies are observed. The last four years were the time period when the least number of protected nature areas were established in Russia as compared to the 50-years history. Never during the last 14 years there were so few nature protection inspectors, so few environmental impact assessments, and so many environmentally hazardous projects.
The Conference participants paid special attention to protection of environmental rights of citizens. These rights include the right for assess to environmental information, the right for public participation in decision-making, and the right for assess to justice in environmental matters. Implementation of environmental rights is of high importance, especially in Russia. Environmental rights are violated on a broad scale during construction of new industrial and transports objects, during construction of new, additional buildings in old centres of cities, and during destruction of green areas. Protection of environmental rights is implemented differently in different countries. Therefore, the exchange of Russian and foreign experience at the Conference was of great importance.
Erroneous decisions and blind-alley directions of development are consequences of ignorance and poor understanding of environmental processes and methods for the problems solutions. Therefore, a considerable part of discussions was devoted to environmental education, which must be aimed at themes actual for people and the society.
For example, It is not often that people know, what consumer products are better for health and for the environment, what is the reason to save energy and other resources, which packages are less harmful to nature. Here informal education for youth and adults, joining efforts of state educational system and NGOs could be of great use. A good example of such activity is the international school programme for application of resources and energy SPARE presented at the conference.
Environmental problems are usually of transboundary, and sometimes of global character. Therefore, efficient international efforts are needed for their solution. The Conference section on international cooperation permitted the participants to exchange not only opinions on strengthening the cooperation, but also successful experiences in this sphere.
Success of the Conference will favour the main Conference goal - to consolidate the efforts of all spheres of the society to provide environmental safety and environmental rights of citizens.

For more information contact the Children of the Baltic NGO

Centre for Environmental Information
Tel./fax: +7 812 3156622
E-mail: info@ecocenter.spb.org
www.ecocenter.spb.org

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