20 years of Barents co-operation for the protection of the environment

The Barents co-operation has from its very beginning aimed at improving the living conditions of the people in the region. At the same time, the natural environment in the Barents area is unique in its biological diversity and is an integral part of the Earth’s ecosystem, providing resources that form the foundation for the human settlements in the region.

The 20th anniversary of the environmental co-operation within the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) coincides with the Russian Chairmanship of the BEAC Working group on Environment (WGE) in 2014-2015. During the period of twenty years, many projects to solve the environmental challenges in Barents region have been implemented, including projects that tackle the problems at the environmental hot spots as well as projects on water management and the conservation of the rich biological diversity of the region. Still, a lot has to be done to promote sustainable and environmentally sound development of the sensitive Barents region.

Acknowledging that climate change, pressure on natural resources, increased environmental risks, pollution of the environment and loss of biodiversity are the major environmental challenges in the Barents region today, the WGE continues its efforts in five core thematic areas. The practical work is carried out by the four thematic subgroups of WGE. In accordance with the Ministerial Declaration from 2013, the focus is on facilitating the implementation of relevant environmental projects and further exclusion of environmental hot spots from the Barents list (today the list includes 36 hot spots); dissemination of cleaner production and best environmental practices; protection of natural environments; water management; combating climate change.

Taking into account the fact that the Barents environmental cooperation aims at meeting regional environmental challenges and connecting the global environmental agenda at regional level, WGE continues to enhance cooperation and coordination with the regional organizations in the North and the International Financing Institutions NEFCO and NDEP, as well as the relevant connections to global environmental processes. The WGE focuses on giving a new momentum to the current activities under BEAC by implementing practical measures and enhancing the engagement of Russian regions. In 2014, the WGE meetings were hosted by the Republic of Karelia and Arkhangelsk Oblast.

Maria Dronova, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation
Chair of BEAC Working Group on Environment

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Maria Dronova participating in the Climate Smart workshop in St. Petersburg.Photo by Riitta Hemmi.

See also:

Barents efforts for biodiversity conservation