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Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

 Федеральный исследовательский центр «Красноярский научный центр Сибирского отделения Российской академии наук»

Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

He overtook his time: scientists of KSC SB RAS tell about the legacy of V.A. Koptyug

9 June 2021 г. FRC KSC SB RAS

Обогнавший время: ученые КНЦ СО РАН о наследии В.А. Коптюга
The jubilee year is an opportunity to remember the merits of a scientist, and to evaluate the influence of an individual on the development of science, country, and sometimes the whole world. Among the numerous merits of the academician of RAS, the chairman of SB RAS from 1980 to 1997, Valentin Afanasyevich Koptyug, one cannot help noting his contribution to the development and promotion of the concept of sustainable development. In a sense, he stood at the origins of this movement at the highest, interstate level.

Intensive social and political activities in the field of environmental protection have undergone significant changes over the past few decades. Without doubts, the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro was a key event which determined, among other things, the trends in the current environmental policy. The current focus on climate change, decarbonisation strategies and control of greenhouse gas emissions is largely associated with the ideas of preserving the key properties of the biosphere which serve as the basis of the concept of sustainable development.

One of the most dedicated supporters of this idea in Russia was Valentin Afanasyevich Koptyug. He participated in the development of the concept at the international level and was the main promoter of sustainable development in Russia after the UN conference held in Rio de Janeiro. His words in 1996, can be considered highly significant: "I have always believed and believe now that there is no country on earth which more accurately matches in its resources, capabilities and spiritual potential the possibility of implementing the concept of sustainable development, than Russia."

Valentin Afanasyevich generously shared his vision of the principles of economic and social development, which mustn’t endanger the functioning of the biosphere, and therefore our security. And his ideas found supporters in academic circles. During one of his visits to the Krasnoyarsk Scientific Center of SB RAS, whose development, like other regional scientific centers, was closely followed by Academician Koptyug, he attracted Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, then Deputy Chairman of the Krasnoyarsk Branch of SB RAS, Nikolai Yakimovich Shaparev by the problems of sustainable development.

“In 1986, I took the position of Deputy Chairman of the Krasnoyarsk Branch of SB RAS. For the first time I met Academician V.A. Koptyug in 1988 during the preparation of the exhibition in connection with a visit of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, M.S. Gorbachev. Valentin Afanasyevich delicately but firmly gave me advice on how to organize it. In general, V.A. Koptyug liked to visit our branch (which later became the Center, thanks to his efforts), as he considered it a zone of calm.

But I was especially impressed by his reports on the problems of the development of the world and Russia, in particular. In the early 2000s, together with the Council of Young Scientists of KSC, we held several conferences "Youth and Russia's paths to sustainable development" dedicated to V.A. Koptyug. Later I published several articles on this subject, and wrote the books "Introduction to the problems of sustainable development" (2009), "Resources of the Krasnoyarsk Region in terms of sustainable development" (2010).

I would like to note that Academician V.A. Koptyug was not only an outstanding scientist but he was a great Citizen of our Motherland.” Nikolai Shaparev shares his memories.

One of the projects, which was born in Krasnoyarsk directly under the influence of the ideas of Valentin Afanasyevich, was a school-conference for young scientists on the subject of sustainable development.

“It is no secret that many environmental problems, in addition to natural phenomena, are due to the level of production technology implemented on the territory. For this reason, in the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, on the initiative of Valentin Afanasyevich Koptyug, a number of programs were developed as a pilot project for Krasnoyarsk and other industrial centers of Siberia, which were based on the ecological passports of enterprises. These comprehensive programs were coordinated by regional executive authorities, approved by relevant union ministries, and received direct funding from Moscow. When compiling the programs, the climatic features of the region, general information about enterprises and their technological base, all sources of pollution, world experience in assessing the environmental impact of similar industries in other countries were taken into account.

If we look at the documents of that time on the analysis, for example, of environmental problems associated with the activities of the aluminum plant in Krasnoyarsk, we can see that even then, measures were proposed for the technical re-equipment of the enterprise, which are still relevant today. The program provided for the strengthening of scientific support for research on the development of means and methods for controlling priority toxicants, environmental analysis of existing and developing technologies for the production of aluminum, development of new environmentally balanced technologies, especially with non-consumable anodes, and development of effective waste recycling processes.

Many points of that program can be applied today. I am glad that recently the Scientific Council on the problems of the ecology of Siberia and the Eastern Arctic was created at SB RAS. Today, Russia lacks people with such a level of thinking as Valentin Afanasyevich Koptyug, "concludes Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, scientific advisor of the Federal Research Center" Krasnoyarsk Science Center of SB RAS "Vasily Shabanov.

Source: Science in Siberia