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Responsibility of business for nature conservation -- costs or benefits?

Plenary session
Environmental responsibility and the right environmental policy of business contribute to the favorable environment in St. Petersburg, keeping the population healthy, increase of quality of goods and services, and benefit both companies and citizens. This is the common conclusion that the participants of the conference "Environmental responcibility of business as a basis for favorable environment and investment attraction of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region" came to. The conference was held in St. Petersburg, on September 20 and 21, 2007.

Representatives of Northwest departments of Rosprirodnadzor and Rostekhnadzor made speeches at the conference, they told about delineation of powers, the mechanisms of interaction with business and about the system of environmental control of enterprises. NGOs proposed the use of information on environment deterioration, that Rostekhnadzor possesses, to inform citizens and for information work with companies towards the reduction of their environmental impact.

The experience of companies that implement environmental management was presented at the conference. A. Vedernikov, head of the environmental department at "International Paper" company spoke about the efforts to reduce emissions into the environment at Svetogorsky plant, about the use of biological waste water treatment , new ways of catchment and utilization of emissions into the air, especially so-called "bad smelling" ones, that often disturbe the local population. The company has a resources and energy saving policy and uses wood- and other biological wastes of the production process to supply itself and the town of Svetogorsk with heat.

Participants' presentation
The environmental coordinator of Coca-Cola company for Northwest Russia, S. Shikina, spoke about the environmental policy principles of the company and the environmental projects supported by Coca Cola, illustrating it by showing a video on a childrens waste removal action in Valdai nature reserve.

One of the most expressive presentations was that of N. Kolychev, the key specialist at "Spetstrans" company, the pioneer of handling and sorting of municipal solid waste in St.Petersburg. This work started a few years ago with the assistance of Greenpeace and the Clean City association, and today is being undertaken in over 300 back yeard of the city. The existing city development plans consider MSW production growth by 1% a year, while the actual increase is about 10 % which means additional 40 million cubic meters. If separate MSW collection is accompanied by further recycling and reuse of waste (75% of waste by mass may be reused), then the resources saving effect is reached, transport costs are mitigated and the opportunity not to raise the waste handling fees arises.

M. Titov, the team leader of St.Petersburg department of International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group) presented the investment program into energy saving. By using specific examples he showed that only the system approach to the economical strategy of a company, its technical development and energy is effective - energy saving is implemented by using new technologies and benefits the company by lowering energy demand.

Olga Rakitova, the executive director of the National Bioenergy Union, spoke about the environmental and economical aspects of bioenergy. The use of biofuel, including wood wastes and grown biomass is cheaper in several regions than the use of imported fuel (coal, fuel oil). Conversion of boiler-house plants from carbon fuel to biofuel ensures the reduction of greenhouse gases emission and impact on climate change. For regions where biofuel boiler-house plants are operated and biofuel produced, it becomes a substantial source of budgetary recharge.

Jurrian Willink, an expert from the Netherlands, told about the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, about the experience in building of so-called "passive" houses, that do not use side energy sources. He presented a joint project by Russian entrepreneurs and Dutch experts concerning the creation of Ecopark - a tourist village in Leningrad region, which would be fully supplied by renewable energy.

A. Khrykov, a representative for Product Quality Control Center at St.Petersburg Administration, presented the facultative environmental certification system, realized by the Center.

The speech of S. Gordyshevsky, Ecounion, was devoted to ecolabeling and ecocertification development in St.Petersburg as an indicator of corporate responsibility. The experience of the "Green leaf" ecolabel shows that indeed, there are companies that are ready to undergo a serious conformance inspection of their production with relation to environmental standarts and regulations in order to obtain such a label, but those companies are not many yet.

Round table at Ecocentrum
Organization "Friends of the Baltic", Center for Environmental Initiatives and TEIA presented their new demonstration project "Ecocentrum" at the conference. Olga Senova, Friends of the Baltic, told that Ecocentrum includes and exhibition of environmentally friendly technologies demonstrating advanced methods and technical decisions, which help to minimize environmental damage of production and services. At the same time the supplied information on environmentally oriented and responsible producers influences the customers' attitude towards their products and attracts the consumers who value environmentally sane choices. The exhibition already presents, in particular, many technical decisions and examples of products that may help one keep energy and money for energy supply for one's home, apartment, office or industrial premises.

The conference demonstrated the professional approach of NGOs to promotion of environmental priorities of producers and consumers and a big potential of collaboration with business for conservation of the environment.

The conference was held by NGO "Friends of the Baltic" with the assistance from Transboundary Environmental Environmental Agency, Center for Environmental Initiatives, a representative for the Public Chamber of Russian Federation for North-Western Federal District, Department of Rosprirodnadzor for North-Western Federal District, under the auspices of Consulat General of USA in St.Petersburg, ООО "Polystroy", Coca-Cola HBC Eurasia and information support from "Delovoy Peterburg" newspaper.

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