Barents Environmental Hot Spots are high on the agenda of the Barents Cooperation
Environment continues to be a high priority for the Barents cooperation. Foreign Ministers of the four Barents countries - Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden - emphasized it during the annual International Kirkenes Conference held on 17 February this year.
Barents Environmental Hot Spots are in focus of the BEAC Working Group on Environment (WGE) and its Subgroup on Hot Spots Exclusion (SHE). This Subgroup was established by the Barents Ministers of Environment in 2010 to facilitate environmental improvements at the initial 42 Hot Spots. These are major polluters situated in the Russian part of the Barents Region, which were defined by Nefco and AMAP report in 2003. Since 2010, SHE has carried out its activities on a regular basis, achieving impressive progress in Hot Spots exclusion.
In 2020-2023, the Working Group on Environment and its Subgroups are chaired by Finland. ‘Finland is glad to mark the hundredth meeting of the Subgroup on Hot Spots Exclusion, which is taking place on 7 April, this time virtually, – says SHE co-Chair Helena Dahlbo from the Finnish Environment Institute. ‘Our mission is to continue cooperation towards sustainable and environmentally-safe Barents Region.’
In order to implement this goal, SHE is working at several priority areas, and one of them is waste management, which is a serious environmental challenge for the Russian regions. Common approach in strategic planning and introduction of waste sorting, re-use and recycling could minimize dumping of waste, which negatively affects the fragile Barents nature. Waste handling is one of the topics discussed at the SHE#100 meeting. ‘We have asked our counterparts in the Komi Republic and a Norwegian company Norsk Energi to share first results of their international project on waste management (Ko6 Hot Spot), supported by the Barents Hot Spots Facility’ - says Helena.
Another important issue lies in the field of reduction of pollution from mining and metallurgy. Currently, SHE is working with Kovdor Mining and Concentration Combined Enterprise situated in the Murmansk Region (M5 Hot Spot) on its wastewater discharge. In 2021, the company should obtain integrated environmental permit as one of the 300 pilot enterprisers in Russia. As a result of modernization of wastewater treatment facilities, the company has significantly improved the water quality of the rivers in the town of Kovdor.
SHE continues competence enhancement of the Russian specialists working in environmental-related spheres. In times when it is not possible to meet physically, the Subgroup arranges webinars on relevant topics, such as management of contaminated sites, methane emissions, wastewater treatment and others. Most of the projects are supported by the Barents Hot Spots Facility, a fund administered by Nefco, Nordic Environment Finance Corporation.
Activities on environmental Hot Spots give a good example of practical and pragmatic approach, which Barents cooperation is well known for. We congratulate SHE-members on the occasion and hope for further environmental improvements in the Barents region!
Read more about Barents environmental Hot Spots
Watch a short video produced within the Komi waste management project