Environmental Ethics
and Public Policy
Ernest Partridge, Ph.D


This Presentation of The SEU TIMES is a Service of "The Online Gadfly"

Featuring News and Opinion Regarding Environmental Ethics and Public Policy

The Socio-Ecological Union

The SEU TIMES -- Current Editions.

February, 2003  No. 4 (38)

January, 2003  No. 3 (37)

The SEU TIMES -- Archives


With the kind permission of SEU Chairman and Editor, Sviatoslav Zabelin, we present the SEU TIMES to our American and International readers.  Zabelin and Co-Editor, Olga Berlova, urge the widest possible distribution of this Newsletter and the information contained within.  Because the work of the SEU, and the information that they gather and report, is of crucial importance to the entire global environmental community, we are pleased that The Online Gadfly can serve as a vehicle of its distribution. We present it here as received.

One need not read a great deal of the SEU TIMES to discover, by implication, that the leaders and activists in this federation of environmentalists in the former Soviet Union, are individuals of uncommon dedication and courage. The challenges that they have undertaken make the tasks of Western environmental activists seem trivial by comparison. Because the transformation of the former Soviet republics toward open democratic societies has been partial at best, environmental activism there may involve far more risk than wasted time and effort. The cases of Grigory Pasko and Alexander Nikitin, as reported in the SEU TIMES, will vividly attest to the fact that in the FSU, environmental activism can put one's very liberty at risk.

For more about the Socio-Ecological Union, see "Russian Environmentalism: Conditions and Prospects" , "A Conversation with Oleg Yanitsky," , and especially, "A Conversation with Sviatoslav Zabelin" at this site ("On the Other Hand: News of the Russian Environment"). There you will learn of our unbounded admiration for this organization and its leaders.

The inaugural editorial by Zabelin and Berlova follows below. 



Sviatoslav Zabelin and Olga Berlova

From the inaugural issue of THE SEU TIMES

January, 1999

On 1998 Christmas eve the Socio-Ecological Union - the largest environmental organization founded in CIS - celebrated its official 10th anniversary. Ten years ago, the founding conference in Moscow gathered more than 400 people from 89 places of the then still existent USSR to pronounce the establishment of the Socio-Ecological Union. This notable event was publicized by the central and most powerful then newspaper Pravda, and in the ten years of its existence the SEU has proven to become one of the really influential environmental forces.

Among SEU first projects one should definitely mention the all-USSR public campaigns, widely supported by the people and media, against such ill-[conceived] prominent projects of turning Siberian rivers' flows and channels, and the Volga -Chograi and Danube-Dneper construction projects. These victories of the then young organization gave it a good start, but one would be a mistake to consider the SEU as only a protest organization. This, by and large is not true, as the SEU's different member organizations lead numerous educational, civic, conservation, human rights, environmental impact assessment, clean up, training projects, which may be less conspicuous, but are of no less importance.

Devoted to the protection of humanity and nature living space, SEU has another attractive feature - active civic and social development work. Thus, in early 1991 the first Soviet - American NGO conference was held, bringing together socially active people from these once completely different worlds and launching many friendships and joint projects lasting up to today.

Among these the most large scale, important and useful was environmental telecommunications project, carried out by the Sacred Earth Network (SEU member organization) and SEU Center for Coordination and Information. This project, providing CIS NGOs with equipment for e-mail access, gave start to now sophisticated and well developed NGO information network, enabling fast information exchange and cooperation.

Today SEU and its members may boast different international awards. Among them is their recognition as one of the 50 exemplary communities, selected on the 50th UN anniversary. So what is the unique structure of this exemplary community organization, which enables to cooperate people and organizations of different views and work styles to cooperate so effectively? From where did it spring forth?

The story of SEU actually goes back to 60's, when the Student Movement of Nature Guards arose. Being non-formal, uncontrolled by the authorities, it was probably the first legal and still independent civic structure in the Soviet Union.

For years of its existence the movement has developed its own traditions and democracy, and a whole network of concerned people. Concern for the future and friendship based on common work brought these people together a year before the SEU founding conference in a Caucasian reserve, where the very idea of the SEU as an organization emerged.

Based on cooperation and democracy, SEU has no governing authority obliging members to conduct or to refrain from certain activities. Decisions are made by SEU conference, and elected by the conference the Council has representation rights in between.

Today the SEU has gathered 250 member organizations from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Chekhia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Norway, Palestine, Russia, Scotland, Tadjikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, USA and Uzbekistan. Its overall membership is near 25,000. Activities are as different as the members are, but making attempt to generalize, public involvement in environmental safety issues, social ecology, chemical and nuclear safety, alternative energy, biodiversity conservation, sustainable forestry, environmental health, ozone and climate, air and water problems. Lobbying and pressure groups are also working within SEU. The programs on environment-friendly housing, childrens' health, nuclear safety, environmental education, chemical safety were adopted as all - SEU programs.

The Chairman of Zaporozhie Environmental Club (Ukraine) wrote: "It is good to feel involved into something great which SEU, its goals, its members and its work definitely are. I am proud of being a founder and member of SEU.

Well, I guess, we all are. And, I hope, will be for a long time".

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More News from the Russian Environment


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 .