Looking into ecological future
Joint international ‘green economy’ projects favourably influence environment
By Yuri Chernyakevich
Belarus’ ecological situation echoes that of Europe, necessitating waste recycling, the use of renewable energy sources and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. Each state finds its own path, while working with its neighbours and international organisations and, of course, we should all be ready to share our expertise to the benefit of all. The UN is one vehicle of this movement, with five eco-projects being realised in the Republic at present, thanks to funding of $13m. Meanwhile, another five are planned — worth $20m.
Most funds are allocated for projects which have undergone successful testing in other countries. Separate waste collection is long established in Europe and the USA, with the Germans and French already in the habit of dividing their plastic and glass waste. Belarusians are yet to accept this as the norm but campaigns are underway to encourage such behaviour.
According to the UN Resident Co-ordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, Sanaka Samarasinha, joint work involves co-operation with local authorities, to set up separate waste collection. Two projects are now being realised with UN financial support: in Kobrin and Mosty.
In addition, joint renewable energy projects (solar, water and wind power) are being developed, with wind turbines soon to launch near Novogrudok. Mr. Samarasinha believes that such technologies will help attract additional investment into Belarus. Of course, Belarus has done much independently of the UN also, as the First Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Vitaly Kulik, emphasises. He notes that the Republic has cut its carbon emissions almost three-fold over the past two decades. The collapse of the Soviet Union reduced industrial manufacturing but modern, eco-friendly technologies have also played their role. Many Belarusian factories now recycle their own waste water, which is ecologically friendly and saves money in the long run. Over the past decade, fresh water extraction volumes have halved as a result.
The state now aims to join efforts with the UN in further reducing harmful emissions, helped by building energy efficient housing. This year, two such sites are to launch in Minsk and one in Grodno, consuming less energy during construction and use. These, and other eco-friendly projects, are part of a nationwide campaign to educate Belarusians on environmental protection and energy saving. UN eco-schools have opened in some regions of the Republic, giving children lessons in their local flora and fauna as part of their school curriculum, and organising eco-activities, such as collecting litter from places of natural beauty: forests and the banks of lakes and rivers. Mr. Samarasinha is convinced that young people can only benefit from learning more about nature. In shaping their ‘ecological’ outlook, the future should be safer in their hands.