Arctic environmental safety standards to be approved on December 5
© RIA Novosti.  Mikhail Uspenskiy

Arctic environmental safety standards to be approved on December 5

The international forum The Arctic: Present and Future, to be held on December 5-6, is expected to approve the national standard entitled "Arctic Environmental Safety," said Vladimir Kotelnikov, head of the team of researchers who developed the standards. Kotelnikov leads the research and innovation division at the Kola Research Center, Russian Academy of Sciences.

The draft document was presented in Moscow on October 28. It offers an overview of the most pressing environmental protection issues arising from the significant human activity in the Arctic. Companies managing the Arctic's natural resources are expected to adopt the standard voluntarily some time later.

"The standards will require businesses to take an environmentally responsible approach to managing natural resources," the document reads. "In addition, compliance with the standards will later be required to bid on government contracts in the Arctic." 

The power company Rossiyskiye Seti (Rosseti) initiated the development of environmental standards and commissioned the Association of Polar Explorers and the team of researchers led by Kotelnikov to draw up the document. They believe that the current regulatory framework does not cover all aspects of the management of natural resources in the Arctic.

Kotelnikov told that upon the project's approval the standards would apparently be tested at Rosseti facilities. "Standards are a flexible thing: if we find that some measures are excessive or insufficient, or don't work, we'll make changes based on our experience," Kotelnikov said, adding that the principles underlying the standards had been borrowed from global experience with running companies.

No details have been provided about the legal status of the document.

"The environmental safety standards are not law yet — rather it's a social contract, something like voluntary certification," Kotelnikov said. In his opinion, the companies which have undertaken to comply with the standards will develop an environmental code to guide how they do business.