Environmental Ethics
and Public Policy
Ernest Partridge, Ph.D

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The All-Russian Emergency Conference on the Environment.

Alexey V. Yablokov

June 13, 2000

Today the All Russian Emergency Conference on the Environment met in Moscow at the Main Hall of the Polytechnic   Museum, near Staraya Ploschad ("Old Square") in the center of the city.  The meeting was initiated by a "Round Table" of non-governmental organizations.

While the organizers expected from two-hundred to two-hundred and fifty to attend, in fact there were 387  in attendance from fifty-one regions of the country.

My (Yablokov's) presentation of twenty-five minutes was followed by V. A. Grachev, the Chair of the State Duma Committee of Ecology who spoke for about forty minutes.  Then Boris A. Yatskevitch, the Minister of Natural Resources, spoke for forty minutes, and afterwards responded to questions for about an hour.  Finally, reports were offered by several officials from the abolished Forest Service and Committee on Environmental Protection (Goskomekology), and from the surviving Hydrometeorology Service.

A heated discussion of several hours ensued.

The conference adopted strong resolutions in support of the abolished agencies, along with open letters to President Vladimir Putin, to the State Duma,  to the Federal Council, to the Russian People, to the NGOs, and to the International Community. [See below]. 

The Minister of Natural Resources looked unhappy, though he was friendly with the conveners.  He announced that the state environmental experts will be separated from his ministry, and that environmental monitoring will be concentrated in the Hydrometeorogy Service (Roshydromet).  The Ministry's new title will be "The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection."  The national parks will be combined with the zapovedniks (nature reserves) into special departments.

This means that our united pressure will have small but identifiable results.  Yesterday we initiated the official process of enacting all-Russian referenda on the three questions: restoring the state Forest Services,  restoring the state Nature Protection Committee, and banning the importation of radioactive materials for storage.  The next step will be to register these initiatives and, if that is successful, to attempt to collect two million signatures in at least thirty federal territories.  We are using these procedures to pressure government officials to restore these agencies.

A copy of the letter to the International Environmental Community follows below.

To Environmental NGOs all over Globe

The All-Russian Conference on Environmental Protection (Moscow, 13 June 2000) notes with alarm that the Russian Government the State Committee on Environmental Protection has been abolished, while in the Federal Assembly increasingly stronger attempts are being made to weaken the existing environmental laws, the budgetary appropriations for environmental protection are continuously reduced, the Ministry of Education is making attempts to exclude environmental education from the high school course, the Public Prosecutor’s and the Federal Security Services are making unjustified claims on environmental NGOs, the mass media are publishing less and less true environmental information.

There is an impression that the strategy of the country’s development worked out by the Government proceeds from the assumption that following the weakening of environmental restrictions and requirements Russia would be more attractive for investors, the overcoming of the economic crisis is supposed to be carried out through creating an environmental crisis and Russia’s environmental problems must be resolved only after the solution of its economic problems!

Russian public environmental organizations are doing a lot to stop this dangerous process of de-ecologization of Russia. However, our influence is not strong enough to do that.

We are convinced that the environmental well-being of the biggest country of the world cannot be indifferent for other countries: successful resolving of Russia’s environmental issues will cause a beneficial effect on the solution of global environmental issues as well as on environmental situation in adjacent countries.

We appeal the environmental NGOs all over globe for sharing with us their experience in resolving issues of environmental protection, in influencing decision-making in the realm of harmonized blending of safe nature management and sustainable economic development.

For the clean Earth, clear air and crystal waters!


On behalf of the Conference, Co-Chairs of the Environmental NGO Round Table

I.F. Barishpol, Chair of Presidium, The All-Russian Society for Nature Protection

S.I. Baranovsky, President, The Russian Ecological Congress

A.V. Yablokov, Co-Chair, The International Socio-Ecological Union

20 June 2000.


Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .