In an effort to shift to a more low-carbon economy, Moldova is taking measures to convert more of its agricultural land from conventional to organic farming.
Organic farming differentiates itself from conventional farming by ensuring the restricted use of chemical and synthetic inputs, prohibition of genetically modified crops, and wide crop rotation. There is a growing wealth of evidence pointing to the environmental benefits of organic farming compared to conventional farming, making organic agriculture very attractive to agriculture-based economies wishing to make a transition to a green economy.
Moldova's economy relies heavily on agriculture. Agricultural production and food processing activities contribute to 30% of national GDP and 70% of exports. This is due to Moldova’s favourable climate, high quality black soil, and geographical location close to large markets.
Due to the increasing international demand for organic products coupled with the significant environmental benefits, the Moldovan government has taken significant steps towards promoting organic agriculture. In 2009, 600 tonnes of organic vegetables were sold on the local market with a 20% government subsidy, providing farmers with a premium price.
Ukrainian industries occupy the leading position among the post-Soviet countries in reducing emissions of harmful substances into the environment. Ukrainian companies are implementing the green economy concept, stated the chief researcher at the Ukrainian Institute of Market Problems and Economic-Ecological Research of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, professor Tatiana Galushkina at the International Environmental Forum Environment for Ukraine, held in April 2011 in Kyiv.
For instance, Ukrainian JSC Zaporizhstal is among the most successful industries in implementing the ecological programs. In the last ten years, Zaporizhstal managed to decrease the amount of dust emissions into the atmosphere by 41%, the discharge of sewage water – by 30%; also, the company increased the reutilization of industrial wastewater by 86%. Leadership of the company mentioned that Zaporizhstal has undergone a significant modernization within the last six years.
At the same Forum, Olav Berstad, the Norwegian Ambassador to Ukraine, stated that Norway should serve as a role model for Ukraine on its way to implement the green economy.
The green economy concept was shaped within the last two decades. The concept harmonizes the coordination between economic, social and environmental components of Ukraine’s development.
General Discussion on the Topic "Legislative Support of Transition to a Green Economy" was held at the Thirty Seventh Session of the PABSEC General Assembly in July 2011
Volodymyr Lytvyn, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, opened the discussion. He declared that it is a timely event. "PABSEC member states made a common cause to strengthen a green economy and its environmental component," V.Lytvyn stressed.
Mykola Yankovskyi, Head of the Ukrainian delegation in PABSEC, stated, "First and foremost, a green economy presupposes changing the economic philosophy, moving from the exploitation of natural resources to their sustainable use. A number of countries started the transition to the model of an environmentally friendly development. Our country should follow the suit."
M. Yankovskyi stressed that transition to a green economy is vital for Ukraine in terms of making the industry environmentally friendly and implementing the international conventions and agreements. "Development of cleaner production remains topical. The concept of introduction and development of cleaner production by 2010 is being drafted. This issue is tackled by the inter-departmental working group including the experts of the United States Agency for International Development. The concept will shape the policy of economic eco-balancing and introduce a cleaner economy into the industrial, agrarian, transport and construction sectors. Legal acts on a green economy are being drafted," the reporter informed. M. Yankovskyi named nearly ten laws and other normative acts aimed at the introduction and development of a green economy in Ukraine.
M. Yankovskyi admitted that numerous issues impede the development of a green economy. He stated that Ukraine has one of the most energy intensive and resource-consuming economies, rooted in the past, whose technological infrastructure pollutes the environment and shapes the negative image of our state. "Therefore, the transition from the industrial to a green economy faces numerous legislative, financial, technical and technological obstacles. Ukraine has chosen its way and realizes the deadlock of the current economic model which affects the future generations," the reporter stressed.
M. Yankovskyi emphasized that Ukraine has an enormous potential for developing a green economy, solar and wind power engineering, establishing minihydro power plants, and producing biofuel. "Positive changes hold out hope that the legislator, the government and the president will support this initiative, so that Ukraine would change to sustainable development, successfully implementing the ‘green economy model.´ Then we will live in the country, which set the goal to become one of the leaders by the life quality and the Human Development Index in a decade," the Head of the Ukrainian delegation concluded.
Other reporters stressed that development of a green economy is an essential means of supporting a healthy environment, while introduction of environmentally-safe practices will reorient the economy towards cleaner production.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of Belarus intends to begin developing principles of economy functioning through "green standards." This was stated by head of the ministry Vladimir Tsalko in February 2012. According to him, such standards are implemented in Russia, Poland and Ukraine.
"This is particularly relevant after the European Conference of Ministers in Astana and before the upcoming 2012 World Summit on Sustainable Development "Rio +20," which will be attended by heads of state around the world. A new model of economic development all over Europe – the "green economy" – is on agenda, he said, BelTA informs.
"The initiative of Kazakhstan - Partnership Program "Green Bridge" – is also noteworthy. Its purpose is to support voluntary and mutually beneficial cooperation between countries in Europe, Asia and the Pacific Ocean in the transition to a "green economy" to save the environment and eradicate poverty," said Vladimir Tsalko. He ordered to determine the position of Belarus in international negotiations on this issue. "The main focus should be placed on creating incentives for the business community and international donors in environmental projects," said the Minister.
Vladimir Tsalko also noted the need for greening the Belarusian people beginning from educational institutions to the business community, as well as the heads of enterprises and government officials.
Head of MNR says the ministry is implementing 10 projects of international technical assistance in the amount of more than $17 million. "Last year, successful negotiations were held to raise funds for new projects in the field of climate change, wind energy, biodiversity, land degradation, the "green economy" and water resources with a total budget of more than $36 million," he said.
Vladimir Tsalko urged to better use the potential of Belarus in implementation of environmental projects and to attract large international companies to such projects. The Minister instructed the district committees at the regional and local levels to take part in the development of new projects. As for departments, they are tasked to begin work on attracting grants, while the heads of institutions - to develop plans to bring technical assistance to various sectors of environmental management within a month.
Environmentally-oriented modernisation of the Russian economy is moving on, albeit not exactly effortlessly. New projects are being implemented; both the business community and the government have really started doing something about this problem.
That’s the main conclusion one could make after the conference “Green Economy as Modern Russia’s Priority” which took place in March, 2011 attended by representatives of government agencies, public associations, large corporations and innovative companies.
What seems particularly worrying in terms of environmental risks in Russia? physical wear and tear of equipment at fuel and energy complex companies is as high as 60%; for oil and gas complex companies (production, transportation and storage), this figure is even higher: 70%-80%; about 90% of industrial waste is not recycled. Urgent steps need to be taken to reduce these risks, in all areas – investments in upgrading production facilities, improved legislation and, even more importantly, new attitude; many of the conference participants stressed this point.
But something is actually being done to bring about “green” modernisation of the country, and more than some may think. Many companies, ranging from financial and industrial giants to small innovative firms, presented their projects. Quite a few of them are of breakthrough nature, capable of making Russia one of the world leaders. Most importantly, they’re aimed at radically increasing the overall energy and resource efficiency of the Russian economy. Each of these projects deserves a detailed description, and we’re going to do just that soon; meanwhile here’s a short list of most interesting ones:
Projects aimed at “green” modernisation of the Russian economy
- Russian Railways’ designs include the first-ever liquefied gas gas-turbine locomotive, and the “smart station” in Anapa. The company is systematically working to reduce overall energy consumption and negative environmental side-effects of railway transportation;
- Liotech is a joint venture of the Russian RUSNANO Corporation and the Chinese Thunder Sky; the company offers radically new energy storage solutions. In effect it’s a breakthrough both in power engineering and motor industry, facilitating the transition to hybrid and electric cars;
- Sollers is in the process of deep environmentally-oriented modernisation of the company’s car factories;
- Optogan – Onexim’s daughter – offers LEDs which, if applied on a sufficiently large scale, would reduce the country’s lighting system’s energy consumption by 80%;
- Profotech (also affiliated with Onexim) designed electric transformers which could work in a very wide range of conditions; according to the company’s spokesman, they’d prevent such accidents as happened at the Chagino substation in 2005 and the Sayano–Shushenskaya hydropower plant in 2009.
- Major projects such as the 2014 Sochi Olympics also involve environmentally-friendly solutions, based on best international practices – according to the spokesman of Sochi 2014 Organisational Committee. The same goes for facilities which will be constructed for the FIFA World Cup 2018.
However, the conference wasn’t just about answers: quite a few new questions were raised during the debates. In particular, development of “green” economy and innovation activities generally are hindered by low market demand; accordingly, ways should be found to increase it. One of the participants put this in a rather alarming way: our fundamental national programmes set an objective to increase the share of alternative energy sources in the overall national production to 4.5% by 2020; compare it with 20%-25% in Western Europe and North America. Note also that a few decades ago Russia (then the USSR) has been a world leader in the alternative energy field. Obviously we’re not approaching this issue ambitiously enough.
Another disturbing thing is an apparent gap between the systemic nature of problems and the individual solutions being proposed to deal with them, and to promote further development. On the one hand we have fundamentally obsolete production facilities and communal infrastructures, which is fraught with a major disaster; on the other – individual, even if breakthrough, technical solutions.
Also, as yet another conference participant noted, almost nothing has been said about alternative energy projects – wind, solar, small hydropower plants, or about recycling industrial and domestic waste either.
Still, it’s just a beginning. This event, in terms of its subject matter and the level of representation, was one of the first (if not the first) in Russia. The participants pledged to press on with their projects and meet regularly to discuss emerging problems and barriers, and submitted a memorandum to that effect to the RF President Dmitri Medvedev.
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