The Politics of Environmental Policy in Russia

The Politics of Environmental Policy in Russia

David Feldman and Ivan Blokov

The authors, renowned experts in the field, explore efforts to develop a mature civil society in Russia, and analyse the policy views of environmental groups, the media, and the scientific community. Three important case studies underpin the study: suspended plans to build an oil pipeline near Lake Baikal; management of Cold War-generated radioactive waste at Chelyabinsk; and public reaction to the introduction of genetically modified foods. The conclusion is that although civil society groups face obstacles in the form of apathy, state-imposed constraints on their activities, and agency reluctance to confer on decisions, there are some successes in reversing decisions due in part to NGO pressures yielding reform.

Chapter 1: Civil society, environment and Russian politics post-1991

David Feldman and Ivan Blokov

Subjects: environment, environmental geography, environmental politics and policy, management natural resources, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy

Extract

In recent years–long after this statement was penned by a pair of Western scholars who completed a path-breaking analysis of the Soviet Union’s environmental legacy–international, inter-governmental entities including the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) acknowledged the importance of civil society for engaging stakeholders in environmental change, especially at the local community level, and in promoting democracy (Grubb et al., 1993; Jasanoff, 2005). In Russia, efforts by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to promote reform since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 have been aimed at achieving both objectives. These efforts face many political, legal and attitudinal hurdles. This book examines these hurdles, the factors that facilitate the development of a mature, environmentally conscious civil society in Russia, and the importance of both for better understanding Russia’s environmental politics and the future of policy reform in nations undergoing the sometimes painful–and often circuitous–path toward democracy.

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