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Measuring sustainability in the Russian Arctic: An interdisciplinary study

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Measuring sustainability in the Russian Arctic: An interdisciplinary study
VALERY VOTRIN

2006

Laboratory for Ecotoxicology and Polar Ecology, Faculty of Science, Free University of Brussels (VUB), 1050 Ixelles, BELGIUM. .

ABSTRACT

This study on measuring sustainability in the Russian Arctic regions is the first comprehensive multidisciplinary assessment of the socio-economic and environmental situation in the Russian Arctic using the set of socially construed Arctic-specific sustainability indicators as an assessment framework. The progress towards sustainable development has been assessed for the six regions: Murmansk Oblast, Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Sakha-Yakutia Republic, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Taimyr, and Chukotka. The regional experience of developing sustainability indicators in Russia was considered in identifying which indicators are most suitable for use in the specific conditions of the Arctic. For the first time, nuclear-related indicators and the indicators on public involvement and northern indigenous issues were included into the regional sustainability assessment framework in Russia. The study emphasises the great social, health and environmental effects from the current shift to resource economy in Russia. Short-term benefits from oil and gas production in the Russian Arctic have turned into the disastrous long-term consequences for the region’s population: a dramatic and continuing decline in life expectancy from 69 years in 1998 to 62 in 2003, steady levels of air and water pollution and degradation of ecosystems. The decline in life expectancy for men in the Russian Arctic from 62 to 56 just for the last five years is unprecedented. The study stresses the urgent need for a long-term knowledge-based development strategy for Russia and highlights implications for further sustainability policy actions in the Russian Arctic both for Russia and the European Union.