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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"

The Public Council under the Ministry of Ecology and Environmental Management of the Krasnoyarsk Region needs active scientists

5 March 2021 г. FRC KSC SB RAS

Общественному совету при Министерстве экологии и рационального природопользования Красноярского края нужны активные ученые
The main task of the members of the Public Council is to perform public control of state authorities in the field of ecology. March 22 is the deadline for submitting applications to the new council. Nadezhda Kudryasheva, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Professor, Leading Researcher at the Institute of Biophysics of SB RAS, member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Ecology and Environmental Management of the Krasnoyarsk Region and President of the Russian-speaking department of SETAC, told about her work in the council, why it is interesting and why scientists are needed in the council.

How long have you been in the Council?

I have been in the council for three years. I heard about the possibility and even the need to work in the council from my good friend. Her motivation was the necessity to influence the decisions of the governing bodies and convey the opinion of citizens to them, which seemed very convincing to me. Now we are also trying to convey this position to our colleagues and invite them to become members of the council. A new composition of the council will be formed soon, and we would like to see as many young, active and caring people as possible come to it.

To be honest, for a long time I was not interested in public organizations and did not imagine that there is such a form of interaction between civil society and the authorities. This is typical for the majority of our people and, unfortunately, evidences the underdevelopment of civil society. In Russia, federal laws related to public control are very correct and should be used. But we see that people do not use their legal rights and are attached to the idea that nothing depends on us. In fact, it does depend. Yes, the decisions of public councils are of a recommendatory nature, but the ministries do consider the opinion of the society. If the members of the council speak out against some action of the government, then this is a reason for concern to our managers - why are the people against it?

Who can become a member of the Public Council?

People come from different areas. It is very good when the council has representatives of different professions - economists, lawyers, ecologists and others. It is especially important to involve scientists in such councils, since it is scientists who are able to assess environmental issues globally. Scientists communicate with colleagues from different countries and have an understanding of these problems in the global context. For example, I am also a member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) and the president of its Russian-speaking branch. It is a worldwide non-profit organization of environmental professionals. Since 1979, SETAC has been organizing forums where scientists and specialists from different fields exchange information and ideas for studying, analyzing and solving environmental problems. Once a month, I attend SETAC Europe meetings, now online. This is very useful for me as a member of our regional public council, as there is an opportunity to compare the norms, approaches and attitudes towards environmental problems at the global and regional levels.

Well, of course, our council does need active young people who want to influence the environmental situation in the city and in the region. I see that young people have become more active nowadays, which is great.

Does this activity require intensive forces?

There are no hard duties here, as this is a community service and people do it voluntarily. At the same time, quite often our colleagues experience “emotional burnout”: a person applies intensives forces, fights, gets tired ... and leaves. I have heard this term "political spirit", and I liked it. I think we can talk about "environmental spirit" as well. It seems to me that a person has it from the very beginning, but this trait can manifest itself only with age. Especially at a certain age, it becomes vitally necessary to do the things you have an inner need for. If you don't do what you really want to do, it turns into a powerful press that pushes you more and more.

What is the responsibility of a council member?

The council member must attend meetings which take place about once a month. They have been held online for the last year. At the meetings, we consider the issues proposed by the ministry, we also suggest our own initiatives. The work is carried out in several directions (sections). The largest section, which includes air, water and radioactivity, covers 90% of all the problems. Our main task is public control over the activities of the ministry; we must bring the opinion of citizens to the officials, and inform citizens about the activities of the officials.
What, besides inner satisfaction, does participation in the council give?

The status of a member of the Public Council is a certain level. It is one thing to write appeals to various bodies (the President, the government, the State Duma, local authorities, etc.) on your own behalf, and another thing is to do it as a member of the council. As we work, we learn more about the laws and real leverage. Rather than sitting in front of the TV, complaining that everything is bad here and “you can't do anything anyway,” it's better to take an active position and try to change something. It seems to me that recently the mood of citizens has begun to change towards greater activity. We need to constantly talk about our environmental problems, cover them in the press and in various forums. And while doing so, there is a chance to contribute to the improvement of our environment.

Do you know that Krasnoyarsk was the first city in Russia to introduce the term "black sky regime"? Originally an American term, it appeared in the states in the last century. Why then, following the term, we do not adopt American environmental standards? It would also be possible to adopt their openness and respect for voters, and the civic engagement of voters as well. State authorities compensate for the risks of citizens living in disadvantaged areas with money. We have many acute problems associated with the location of harmful or hazardous industries and their impact on the environment and human health, but even its discussion is almost prohibited.

Ecology is a rather acute topic. Are there conflicts? How do you deal with them?

It happens that we get excited at council meetings, and it's normal that people argue and behave emotionally in the halls of parliament. It is much more useful to discuss problems in a council format than to keep the "disease" inside. The latter leads to the fact that the problems are "overripe", and the reaction of the population takes extremist forms. Yes, the process of interaction is complicated and long, but we see that the authorities are listening to us.

The activities of the Public Councils are regulated by the Federal Law No. 212-FZ "On the Foundations of Public Control in the Russian Federation" as of July 21, 2014.

We are waiting for everyone who wants to influence the environmental policy in the region. The information is posted on the website of the Ministry of Ecology and Environmental Management of the Krasnoyarsk Region. (http://www.mpr.krskstate.ru/presscentr/news/0/news/99157)

The deadline for submitting an application to the council is March 22.