Environmental problems

Resulting document of the round table on

“Solutions to environmental problems for sustainable development; UNESCO Chairs’ activity”

18 September 2009, a round table meeting “Solutions to environmental problems for sustainable development; UNESCO Chairs’ activity” took place within the International UNESCO Chairs Congress on Sustainable Development

The meeting was attended by representatives of UNESCO Chairs for ecological aspects of nature management and environmental education from the countries that took part in the Congress of UNESCO Chairs on Sustainable Development.

Upon hearing and discussing reports and presentations on ecological aspects of nature management, public administration in the area of environmental protection and ecological safety, UNESCO Chairs’ activities in the ecologization of education, the participants of the round table noted that the preservation of natural systems and improvement of environment are inseparably related to social well-being of societies and sustainable development of regions. It is only possible to efficiently address ecological problems if this effort is based on an integrated approach within an entire economic system.

The human right to a sound environment is the main foundation for ecological education. Ecological education is needed to form of a truly humane attitude to nature, to determine the admissible measure of nature transformation and standards of behavior that would allow for the mankind to further exist and develop. In the contemporary context special attention should be paid to highlighting the relation between ecological education and public health and life quality, geographic and climatic conditions of regions. In this regard, the activity of UNESCO Chairs is especially important.

The round table participants emphasize:

- The growth in the consumption of natural resources leads to negative changes in the quality of environment. The key problems that determine the aggravation of ecological situation are: the shortcomings in the environmental policies; legal loopholes in the field of environment protection and sound natural resources management; lack of a technique for the integrated assessment of damage to the environment caused as a result of industrial development; application of inadequate technologies for environmental rehabilitation.

- The low level of available information on natural and man-induced dynamics of natural ecosystems against the background of the global climate change, particularly with regard to the role of marsh ecosystems in supporting the ecological equilibrium as a basis for sustainable development of one of the marshiest regions on the planet.

- Insufficient development of partnerships between research centers and UNESCO Chairs dealing with environmental dynamics and global climate change.

- The need to improve training and retraining of environmental policies personnel, to disseminate the experience of UNESCO and other international organizations dealing with ecology and nature management.

Based on the discussion of reports and presentations the round table participants have developed the following recommendations which we propose to include into the resolution of the Congress of UNESCO Chairs:

- Promote the development of scientifically grounded criteria of sustainable regional development in the conditions of growing man-caused impacts.

- Use international field stations to organize long-term biospheric functions of marsh ecosystems.

- Recommend to create a coordination center of the international network of UNESCO Chairs and research centers dealing with environmental dynamics and global climate change to be based at the UNESCO Chair of the Ugra State University.

- Facilitate the expansion and deepening of the activities of biosphere reserves and specially protected natural areas of various levels, research and monitoring of global changes with the use of state-of-the-art equipment and information technologies, step up the activity of biosphere reserves and specially protected natural areas as training centers providing ecological education for sustainable development.

- Support the development of educational programs in the field of ecology and environment protection at UNESCO Chairs, improvement of education quality and academic level of teachers, young scientists and students by creating conditions for conducting field studies and involving them into research projects; provide international internships and opportunities to study abroad.

- It is recommended that UNESCO Chairs promote qualification improvement in the field of environment protection and ecological safety for decision makers in charge of economic or other activities that have, or may have, a negative impact on the environment (regional and local authorities, lawmakers, CEOs of industrial enterprises and commercial entities).