Meeting of the Presidium of the Presidential Council for Economic Modernisation and Innovative Development
Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. We are holding a meeting of the Presidium of the Council for Economic Modernisation and Innovative Development. I suggest we discuss today issues of innovative development in environmental safety and rational use of natural resources. I won’t dwell on the importance of this subject. It is clear what problems we are facing. We know what anthropogenic pressure is being exerted on the environment and what difficulties we have inherited from past economic activities. To be honest, we keep saying we have inherited this or that, but we are also doing some things that are increasing this anthropogenic pressure. Of course, it is always possible to blame things on our predecessors, but we should still look at ourselves and see how our plants and factories are working.
According to today’s standards, a considerable part of our people live in an unfavourable environment. Air pollution in many cities is considered high or very high. We have stockpiled billions of tonnes of waste, and this amount is growing with each passing year, but separate collection and processing is still very rare. Dumping sites, including unauthorised ones, occupy hundreds of thousands of hectares of land. I’ve been flying in a helicopter a lot recently, and not only in Russia. The scale of environmental pollution and dumping sites are staggering, even in Moscow and its suburbs. We must press on waste management.
We have just seen new forms of recycling and new ideas here at the Chernogolovka innovative centre and its enterprise. The most varied companies should get involved in this because environmental protection is not limited to environmental movements – innovations are also helpful here. In this sense they can become a systemic driver of modernisation and can produce a double benefit – make the economy more competitive and improve living standards.
Sensible state regulation and, of course, responsible conduct of private companies are very important. We must create real incentives to encourage companies to invest in innovation. I’d like to hear in the report what is being done to improve the regulatory framework on this score. Last but not least, we must change the general attitude toward nature and the environment; this is the Year of Environmental Protection and the fact that it is being held should draw society’s attention to these problems.
Now a few words about increasing support for R&D aimed at creating eco-friendly technology. This is the responsibility of the state, development institutes and business. More than eight billion roubles have been allocated for this purpose under the state programmes of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to 2020.
Experts point out that we have done well in assessing resources and forecasting the condition of the lithosphere and biosphere (including bio diversity). Space technology, including remote probing satellites, have a vast potential.
I’ve already said it is no accident we are meeting here in Chernogolovka. Apart from being one of our leading centres of academic science, Chernogovka, its institutes and small companies are commercialising cutting-edge technology on recycling solid domestic waste and deep processing of oil products. They have also achieved good results on hydrogen economy.
A few words about development institutes. They should also help us resolve environmental problems. Sixteen projects worth about 2.5 billion roubles are funded on the basis of parity with business under the programme of cooperation between universities and high-tech industry. The programme for attracting leading experts to universities supports seven projects worth about one billion roubles; patents are currently being issued.
Our innovative centres and venture companies are also working to this end. Skolkovo has earmarked grants worth one billion roubles for about 50 projects. The Russian Venture Company has funded fewer projects but they were worth more – over three billion roubles from 2007 to 2012.
Rusnano is also involved in this and they have their own projects worth a considerable sum. Researchers are developing new technology for the production and processing of natural resources, as well as working on green transport solutions in territorial clusters and on technological platforms.
I’m referring to state and development institutes. Now regarding the role of business. In 2012 investments in basic assets aimed at environmental protection and rational use of natural resources totalled about 116 billion roubles. At first glance, this is a substantial sum – almost 70% of it were the funds from companies; more than 8.3 billion was spent on the purchase of technology, waste management and rational use of raw materials. The leading domestic mineral developers are increasing spending on R&D. Further development of the raw materials sector will require complicated research-intensive technology. I’m referring to hard-to-recover resources. Each such deposit is unique in its own way and requires new methods of prospecting and evaluation.
Another task is the safe and effective development of the continental shelf. Shelf projects are a good catalyst for the development of material engineering, chemistry, and special metallurgy. It also keeps our shipbuilding companies busy. Rock dump is also a resource that has not been fully utilised. These mineral reserves are comparable with new deposits, but to begin their active development it is necessary to develop technology to make this process economically attractive. Science can make a major contribution in this respect.
One more important issue is repairing environmental damage. We are drafting a federal targeted programme for this purpose and plan to provide substantial funding in 2014-2025. The programme will focus on the cleanup of badly damaged Arctic sites and extremely hazardous industrial facilities. It is necessary to remove the Beloye More sludge collector in the Nizhny Novgorod Region (I’ve been there and seen what a sorry sight it is). This task will be addressed jointly by the federal government (our allocations are about one billion roubles), the Nizhny Novgorod Region, which will also provide some funding and business – SIBUR Neftekhim will allocate about 230 million roubles to this end. Obviously, there is no standard approach to cleaning up these sites because they have individual problems and require different levels of funding. They differ in square area, as well as in the nature and sources of pollution. But in any case we’ll have to resolve these tasks with innovative technology that provides for comprehensive land reclamation.
In conclusion, I’d like to emphasise that environmental protection and innovations are closely interconnected today. The state, science, business and civil society should all be working on this. The development of this country, the well-being of future generations and the resolution of practical economic tasks depend on this.
The Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment will deliver a report on the main issues. Mr Donskoi, go ahead please.