Lake Baikal Problems Need Comprehensive Solution

26 december 2016

“The Analytical Center and the Ministry for Natural Resources of Russia are implementing the instruction of the Russian government to launch a priority project for the development of Lake Baikal, which must be ready by April 2017,” said Deputy Head of the Analytical Center Mikhail Pryadilnikov at a strategic session for the preparation of proposals on the development of the priority program “Baikal: Great Lake for a Great Country.”

The expert noted that 4 priorities goals had already been identified for the project: preserving the biodiversity, reversing the damage accumulated so far, economic development and tourism. “The problems of Lake Baikal need a comprehensive solution that addresses all the existing issues at the same time, so we are trying to get as much input as possible from the expert community, executive authorities in charge of environmental regulations and use of natural resources and the economy as well as from entrepreneurs,” declared Mr. Pryadilnikov

“The scope of the issue and its cost is a challenge for society and what we are doing as part of this project is no doubt going to prove extremely useful for decades to come,” said Deputy Head of the Department for Economics and Finance of the Government of Russia Anton Grigorov. The project comprises several blocks, one of which aims to develop project management. “Special focus should be paid to municipalities, towns and cities. A lot of them have functioning local administrations, such as Baikalskoye, but in some areas the local government officials are not doing anything to effect the required change,” Mr. Grigorov believes. It is important to create new financial management systems, develop a favorable environment for people and businesses, eliminate discharges of contaminants into the lake or at least make sure that waste that gets discharged into the lake does not overwhelm and destroy its ecosystem and that the lake can absorb and dissolve it effectively, the expert explained. “There are questions about regulations, there are a lot of bylaws and even some laws that need to be revised and amended to bring them in alignment with our goals. Currently, we have many poorly coordinated and often contradictory regulations,”  Mr. Grigorov explained.

There are questions about regulations, there are a lot of bylaws and even some laws that need to be revised and amended to bring them in alignment with our goals. Currently, we have many poorly coordinated and often contradictory regulations.

Anton Grigorov

Deputy Head of the Department for Economics and Finance of the Government of Russia

The Chair of the Irkutsk brunch of the Russian Geographical Society Leonid Korytny talked about the current environmental situation on Lake Baikal and in the territory adjacent to the lake. “The main problem at the moment is in the areas adjacent to the lake as those are the places that most local people live and that the vast majority of tourists visit,” the expert said. ”So we have got sewage contamination there, we have got waste strewn along the shore, changes in the hydrobiocoenosis and excessive recreational loads.” Other environmental challenges cited by Mr. Korytny include fires and contamination from the vessels operating in the lake.

After the plenary session, the specialists broke up into 4 groups to discuss the main goals for each of the priorities of the project and to look into them in more detail together.

The strategic session was held by the Analytical Center in conjunction with the Administration of the Government of Russia and federal executive authorities with a stake in the issue.

It should be reminded that the event was held as part of the implementation of the Resolution accepted on  August 31, 2016 by the Presidium of the Presidential Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects to Improve the Environmental Situation on Lake Baikal and Develop the Baikal Natural Territory as well as in accordance with the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s message to the Government of Russia regarding the development of a priority project to preserve and develop the unique natural object – Lake Baikal.