The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP), hosted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is a successful model for cooperation between national governments and international financing institutions, ensuring the commitment of billions of Euros to promote a cleaner environment in the High North.
This was the conclusion of Magnus Rystedt, director of the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation, Nefco, and chair of the NDEP steering committee.
The NDEP has two main foci: The clean up of the Baltic Sea and the elimination of risks from nuclear waste in the Barents area.
So far 6 billion Euros have been invested in the environmental projects initiated under NDEP and 142 million Euros has gone into cleaning up areas around Murmansk and Arkhangelsk plagued by nuclear waste.
– The NDEP is highly instrumental in reaching the goals of the Baltic Sea Action Plan and the work within the Northern Dimension has yielded good results. But at the end of the day, the partnership will be judged on how it affects peoples lives, so cooperation with the civil sector is crucial to the success of the NDEP, said Christina Gestrin, chair of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference.
Once fully implemented, the NDEP will account for 15% of the pollution reduction mandated by the Baltic Sea Action Plan.
Chair of the Environmental Committee of the Russian Duma, Evgeny Tugolukov, also spoke at the conference. He stressed the upcoming adoption of a number of new environmental laws in Russia in March of this year.
– I have been impressed by the fact that so much is happening concerning environmental protection in Russia. This meeting has clearly shown that there is progress there and that this kind of forum is useful to spread good practice in the environmental field throughout the region, said Ann-Kristine Johansson, Swedish MP and chair of the Environmental Committee of the Nordic Council.
She added her satisfaction that the final Statement of the Conference included a plea to national governments to pay particular attention to the special climate, cultural and environmental conditions of the northern regions when planning future exploitation of natural resources in the area.
The Northern Dimension partnership was established in 2006 between the governments of Norway, Iceland, Russia and the EU Commission. Belarus, Canada and the United States participate as observers.
There are four partnership areas: Environmental issues, Health and social welfare, transport and logistics, and cultural affairs.
The first Northern Dimension Parliamentary Forum was held in the European Parliament in 2009. The Forum includes in addition to the contracting parties to the partnership among others the Nordic Council, the West Nordic Council, the Baltic Assembly and the Barents Parliamentary Conference. The aim of the forum is to support and further the partnership process in the four areas involved.