Krasnodar, 15 May – Yug Times. Our today’s interviewee is Valeri Shmunk, Director of the regional office Russian Caucasus, WWF-Russia.
Q.: What ecological problems do you think are the key ones for the Kuban region? How did they appear and what should the regional authorities do to resolve them?
A.: I think that for the most touristattractive areas, like the Black and Azov seaside and the foothills [of the Caucasus Mountains], it is the excessive pressure of the touristic flow, especially during the high season. Many types of tourism cannot be thought of as environmental-friendly - say, jeeping. Experts on local reptiles and amphibians have for many years been sounding the alarm, because many jeeping routes go along small water courses that are of critical importance for the preservation of these animal classes.
On the whole, we have an extremely low waste treatment culture, which is why somebody else must remove the garbage left by our tourists.
The problem of wastes recycling is very important both in the Krasnodar region and in Russia on the whole. The number of local population keeps growing due to national migration, but nobody seems to be thinking how to tackle this problem. I think that most attentive people must have noticed a long time ago that whenever a new fast-food restaurant or a big mall opens in a city, the nearby roadsides will be littered with plastic bags and branded paper packages.
Q.: Is the Kuban business interested in the introduction of ‘green technologies’ and what would such introduction depend on? Is the environmental issue of any importance for big and midsize business circles?
A.: They are interested in the introduction, but they cannot do it due to the lack of the incentives. It’s very simple, because business has only one interest - its profit.
Let’s take power engineering as an example. It will not undergo any systemic changes while organic fuel remains cheaper than alternative fuels. It is the government that defines the rules for the game - say, by means of certification systems. We have lots of products branded with the use of the terms Eco, Bio, Farmer’s or Homemade. But the consumers cannot identify if it really is an ‘ecological’, ‘environmentally friendly’ product; they must fully depend in their opinion on the manufacturer’s good will. What we need is a certification system that will let us introduce ‘green’ production standards to secure the right to be branded as ‘ecologically responsible.’
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