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INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

M.E.Schaefer

Association for Biodiversity Information

Thank you and good morning. We commend and thank the Russian Academy of Sciences for organizing this meeting. The Russian Academy has unparalleled capabilities in Russia of direct relevance to environmental problems and for decades has sponsored research activities that touch on all aspects of environmental protection. While the Russian Government has gone through a number of organizational adjustments in recent years, the Academy remains a stabilizing force; and we are hopeful that the Academy will carry forward recommendations that are put forth at this workshop.

The head of the Russian group at this workshop, Academician Nikolai Laverov, is well known throughout the world for his leadership role in promoting environmental policies—as a leader within the government, as a leader of the Academy of Sciences, and as a leader in the field of environmental geology.

Dr. Jack Gibbons, former science advisor to President Bill Clinton and the chair of the American group, is a leader as well in the area of environmental and energy policy, and is highly respected in the United States for his efforts to advance science and technology policy more broadly.

The role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in bringing balance to environmental policies and to decisions that affect the environment is increasingly recognized throughout the world. This workshop will highlight many examples of the importance of such balance.

The American experience goes back several decades, with NGOs finally gaining a prominent role at both the national and state levels in the 1970s. While the political, economic, and judicial frameworks for environmental actions are different in the United States and in Russia, a number of lessons have been learned in Washington and throughout the country that may have relevance to



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The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop INTRODUCTORY REMARKS M.E.Schaefer Association for Biodiversity Information Thank you and good morning. We commend and thank the Russian Academy of Sciences for organizing this meeting. The Russian Academy has unparalleled capabilities in Russia of direct relevance to environmental problems and for decades has sponsored research activities that touch on all aspects of environmental protection. While the Russian Government has gone through a number of organizational adjustments in recent years, the Academy remains a stabilizing force; and we are hopeful that the Academy will carry forward recommendations that are put forth at this workshop. The head of the Russian group at this workshop, Academician Nikolai Laverov, is well known throughout the world for his leadership role in promoting environmental policies—as a leader within the government, as a leader of the Academy of Sciences, and as a leader in the field of environmental geology. Dr. Jack Gibbons, former science advisor to President Bill Clinton and the chair of the American group, is a leader as well in the area of environmental and energy policy, and is highly respected in the United States for his efforts to advance science and technology policy more broadly. The role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in bringing balance to environmental policies and to decisions that affect the environment is increasingly recognized throughout the world. This workshop will highlight many examples of the importance of such balance. The American experience goes back several decades, with NGOs finally gaining a prominent role at both the national and state levels in the 1970s. While the political, economic, and judicial frameworks for environmental actions are different in the United States and in Russia, a number of lessons have been learned in Washington and throughout the country that may have relevance to

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The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop current-day Russia. However, we recognize the unique history of Russia and understand that successful approaches in the United States may not be effective in Russia and vice versa. The United States is still adjusting to the role of NGOs. While they have become a permanent fixture on the American landscape, there are still creative tensions and synergies both within the NGO community and between the NGOs and governmental and economic interests. There are many different types of NGOs, with various agendas, with different constituencies, and with different capabilities. Advocacy, data-gathering, and analytical groups, in particular, are represented at this workshop. Of special interest to the American specialists are several aspects of environmental activities in Russia. How are NGOs able to participate in the governmental decision-making process? Does the government try to discourage such participation? Do NGOs have access to data used by the government in its decision-making—and how do they bring their own data to the process? Do NGOs have the scientific capacity to be credible advocates for specific policies and how well do they link to Russian scientific institutions? Again, we thank the Russian Academy of Sciences, in particular Dr. Natalia Tarasova, for organizing this meeting, and we look forward to productive discussions about the role of environmental NGOs in the decision-making processes.