New actions and resources to eliminate the Barents environmental hot spots
The Ministers of Environment of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region were presented a report on the exclusion of the Barents environmental hot spots on February 17th, 2010, in Tromsø, Norway. The Ministers defined the goal to exclude all the 42 environmental hot spots by the end of the year 2013. The Working Group on Environment was given the mandate to execute this.
The list of hot spots was defined in a report by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) in collaboration with the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) in 2003. Hot spots are ecological sites that have been polluted and pose a health risk to those who live near them, either because of the direct impact or potential to poison the drinking water or other food chain.
The Barents hot spots exclusion projects are related for example to improving the water supply and sewage systems for towns and villages, treatment of non-radioactive hazardous waste, energy saving, reduction of airborne emissions and developing environmental and human health monitoring systems. The hot spots are situated in the Russian part of the Barents region that comprises Arkhangelsk and Murmansk Oblasts, Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Karelia and Komi Republics.
The Barents Hot Spots Facility – tool for financing the projects
NEFCO is an international financial institution established by the Nordic countries and it finances investments and projects in order to generate positive environmental effects. One of the important financial tools for doing this is the Barents Hot Spots Facility (BHSF) where the purpose is to promote project development at the hot spots in the Russian Barents Region. The Facility’s main task is to provide grants to finance technical assistance, typically key pre-feasibility and feasibility studies, business and financing plans, or environmental impact assessments. The major investments needed for addressing and mitigating the environmental issues need to come from other financial resources
Information dissemination via the Barents Hot Spots Information System
Adequate information sharing is crucial to ensure the fairness and transparency of the exclusion process and also that the experience gained will be of benefit for other similar issues in the Barents Region and elsewhere. With the funding from BHSF, the Barents Environmental Hot Spots Information System will be developed.
The information system will be available at the Barents Euro-Arctic Councils website and it shall include a general description of each respective hot spot and its environmental issues and a tracking, continuous development of the hot spot towards its final exclusion from the list, and reporting on these issues. The Barents Hot Spots Information System shall provide continuously updated information to stakeholders, decision makers and the general public and serve as a tool for those involved in the process.
Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland is providing the basis for a web-based information system on the Barents Environmental “Hot Spots” that will be developed and available to the general public in 2011.
The report was prepared by the Ad-hoc Task Force on Elaboration of Procedures and Criteria on Exclusion of the Barents Environmental “Hot Spots”. The members of the Ad-hoc Task Force have been Mr Henrik G Forsström, Chairman (NEFCO), Ms Saija Vuola/Ms Henna Haapala, Finland (Ministry of Environment), Ms Ingrid Berthinussen/Ms Anne-Grethe Kolstad, Norway (Climate and Pollution Agency), Mr Andrey S. Peshkov, Russia (Minpriroda RF) and Mr Åke Mikaelsson, Sweden (SEPA).
This is one example what the cooperation within the Barents Euro-Arctic Council is in practice.