There is a growing interest in the resources and riches of the Arctic, while the polarity of diametrically opposed views of global leaders and its strengthening remains a constant backdrop. In the focus of international interests, the constant agenda is both the strengthening of militarization between the members of the North Atlantic Alliance and NATO opponents, and the issues of climate change, preservation and development of the traditional economy and culture of small indigenous ethnic groups that are indigenous to the Arctic. In this macro-region, environmental protection and ecological organizations are traditionally active. The leaders of such activity are WWF and Greenpeace. Their portfolio includes a lot of projects and informational activities of Arctic profile. Experts question the views and approaches to the events aimed at environmental protection in the Far North, as well as attracting the attention to the issues of environmental responsibility at the level of the Arctic states.
Greenpeace does not limit itself in the range and scope of its professional activities, while maintaining the image of a controversial organization and the most ardent defender of the environment. A vivid case study for the world community was the action of this public organization in the Barents Sea on the Prirazlomnaya oil platform. As a result, Greenpeace was accused of piracy. No less striking was the case in Norway when a number of Greenpeace activists brought a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights against the Norwegian Government in connection with the permit for the development of new fields on the Arctic shelf.
Segmented and multifaceted approach is used by WWF International Wildlife Fund in the implementation of its own Arctic program. Indigenous peoples’ concerns and issues in the environmental sphere are in many cases the focus of WWF’s interest. Tons of waste, namely slags treated with mercury and carcinogenic heavy chromium are dumped into coastal waters by the mining and metallurgical companies Nussir, Nordic Mining and Sydvaranger Gruve. Local mass media repeatedly told about it, the leaders of the Saami communities appealed to the Norwegian supervising bodies. At the same time, WWF does not pay attention to what is happening to the traditional living environment of indigenous peoples of Norway and wildlife sites, as well as the Atlantic salmon spawning areas are threatened. And the problem is very acute for the ecology of these areas.
The situation with WWF activities in Russia is quite the opposite. There are certain problems with relations between the state and human rights, ecologists and Russian authorities. At the same time, Russia has managed to achieve tangible and significant results in the conservation of biodiversity and environment. A number of national parks and nature reserves have been opened and their number continues to grow. Currently, 13.5% of the total area of Russia is made up of specially protected natural areas. This allows the Russian Federation to retain leadership in this area.
Certification of fishing companies operating in the northern seas by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is in WWF’s sphere of interest. Taking into account scientific data on the population of marine bioresources, restriction of bottom trawling fishing in unfavorable areas, improvement of safety of fishing is the result of cooperation of ecologists and fishermen. The head office in Germany as well as WWF’s Norwegian colleagues emphasize the positive experience of MSC certification in Russia. Norway has received a proposal to strictly reduce the existing gap, lagging behind Russia in this area, because the Norwegian fishing fleet is quite large and has a serious impact on marine ecosystems.
Mining is of interest to WWF representatives as a hazardous industry. “Norilsk Nickel closed its own smelter in the settlement of Nickel in December 2020 as part of the company’s transition to “green” production standards. Despite such “good news” coming from Russia, WWF remains silent about tons of waste being discharged into the Norwegian fjords from the mines. You have to hand it to WWF to monitor Norway’s oil expansion policy. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF’s leading expert on global climate and energy, notes: “Standing on the side of fossil fuel interests risks putting Norway in a difficult situation. Norway’s position will increase the risk that the world will reach fragile climate tipping points, which in turn will cause devastating consequences for the natural world on which we depend.”
Creating a comfortable environment for future generations should be a priority for the world authorities in the implementation of Arctic policy in the face of increasing rates of climate change and global warming. It is worth especially emphasizing the damage to the environment from the activities of mining companies, environmental NGOs working in the region, especially such authoritative representatives as WWF.
From Russian & Norwegian sources of the “Arctic Partnerships”.