President Vladimir Putin: Good day dear colleagues!
The topic on today's agenda is of truly national importance. We will talk about the country's environmental security, practical tasks ahead of us, and the solutions we must find during our joint work to the problems that face us. We will talk about protecting the environment and improving the quality of life of Russian citizens. The quality of the environment directly influences the nation's health and demographic potential, and reflects our respect for the future of our country, for current and future generations.
Environmental problems face all economically developed countries. These problems were classified as the global challenges of our time at the G8 summit in 2006. We have paid detailed attention to these issues more than once in the State Council of the Russian Federation, the Government of the Russian Federation and in the Security Council. We have adopted an Environmental Policy and the federal law ”On Environmental Protection“.
The main goal of this phase is to, first and foremost, ensure that decisions that have already been taken are consistently implemented. Secondly, to create an effective system of environmental security in Russia, one that can effectively cope with existing technological and man-made pollution and effectively respond to new problems and challenges in this field.
The economic recovery of our industry, transport and infrastructure sectors constantly increases the pressure on natural ecological systems. According to experts, the rate of growth of toxic waste is at 15–16 per cent per annum, significantly more than GDP growth.
Furthermore, a number of major investment projects have started to be implemented in the regions. They cover large extent of Russian territory, lands that were formerly wild. They include the construction of the North Stream pipeline, the Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean pipeline, extraction in the shelf zone of the Barents Sea, the Kara Sea and the Okhotsk Sea, and the development of the Polar Urals. Of course the negative effects of intensive economic activities in these areas should be minimized. We also need to revive the environment that has been contaminated as a result of past economic activity and accidents, in particular in the Krasnoyarsk Region, as well as in Bryansk, Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk and several other regions.
We need to pay particular attention to the purity of our sources of drinking water. Environmentalists believe that in some regions between 35 and 60 per cent of drinking water does not meet health standards. That is a very dangerous figure.
We have been unable to stop the contamination of a number of river basins in the European part of Russia, in Siberia, and the highest rate of contamination occurs near the largest Russian cities and major towns.
We need to address problems concerning waste and emissions into the atmosphere, including in connection with the growth of industry and transport, more effectively. It is estimated that between 1999 to 2006 emissions from factories and other stationary facilities grew by more than 10 per cent, and those from vehicles by more than 30 per cent.
Finally, we must learn to effectively protect Russian interests in the international arena, especially with regards to environmental security threats caused by cross-border pollution of the territory of the Russian Federation. In recent times the environmental situation in parts of the Baltic Sea, the Okhotsk Sea, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and in the Amur and Irtysh rivers has worsened.
I would stress that today's discussions of environmental problems should adopt an assertive and pragmatic approach and integrate work designed to protect the environment into the systemic level, and into the daily responsibilities of all levels of state power.
The Government should speed up the adoption of the federal target programme for chemical and biological security for 2009–2013 and, in general, create the necessary prerequisites for the future growth of the Russian economy based on high environmental standards. Incidentally, these technologies tend to be economically more efficient. We will talk about this later. This will be linked directly to the growth of productivity in our country.
The necessary conditions for raising and tackling such large-scale environmental challenges have been put in place. Russia now has the financial and economic possibilities for developing the use of clean technology in industry and introducing resource and energy conservation programmes. We have the necessary legal framework for a public-private partnership in this area. Societal activities in the area of environmental policy have increased. I want to emphasize that these are all important prerequisites so that joint efforts in this area can achieve real practical results. We are able to do this, and we are obliged to do so.