Co-operation on climate and environment in the Barents Region
The Barents Region covers the northernmost part of Europe – in Russia and the Nordic countries of Finland, Norway and Sweden. Co-operation in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region works on two levels: inter-governmentally and inter-regionally. The Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) is the forum that gathers the Barents countries and regional authorities to promote stability and sustainable development in the Region.
The Barents Region is proud of its clean environment, large intact natural areas and unique indigenous culture in Europe. The BEAC Working Group on Environment (WGE) and its subgroups take the lead in the important challenge to promote responsible, sustainable and environmentally sound economic activities.
Since the early 90’s, the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) has actively supported actions and provided funding for activities related to climate and environment in the Barents. NEFCO is the fund manager of the Barents Hot Spots Facility (BHSF) that has been the main provider of funding and financial support for this co-operation since 2005.
Environmental Hot Spots
Environmental Hot Spots have been a central concept for the Barents co-operation. NEFCO and the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) mapped out 42 hot spots in the Barents Region defining issues and sites that pose both environmental and health risks and require specific measures of protection and action in the Russian part of the Barents region:
- Murmansk Oblast
- Arkhangelsk Oblast
- Republic of Karelia
- Komi Republic, and
- Nenets Autonomous Area
The Subgroup on Hot Spots Exclusion (SHE) serves as the central driving force and coordinator in this work, which requires thorough effort from regional authorities and other stakeholders.
To date, many of the Barents hot spots have achieved significant environmental improvements and have been excluded from the List, while others remain to be solved. The List of hot spots and more information may be found at www.barentscooperation.org/hs.
About the Barents Hot Spots Facility
The Barents Hot Spots Facility (BHSF) was set up by the Nordic countries for providing support and financing technical assistance to address hot spots and other issues of similar dignity in the Russian Barents regions. As BHSF is not primarily a source for financing of actual project implementation, but for project preparation, support is typically provided as grants for sector studies and inventories, key pre-feasibility and feasibility studies, business and financing plans, or environmental impact assessments. However, funding may in some cases also be provided for small key demonstration or pilot investments. BHSF also contributes to the institutional set-up and the support activities related to the hot spots. The total assets of the Facility exceed EUR 8 million.
The Barents Hot Spots Facility is funded by Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO). The facility is managed by NEFCO.
Both public and private entities located in the Nordic countries or in Russia that have a relevant project or activity related to the Barents environmental hot spots can apply for funding from the Facility.
NEFCO & the Barents Region
Over the years, NEFCO has contributed to the co-operation on climate and environment in the Barents region, in particular related to the hot spots:
- First NEFCO report defining Barents hot spots in 1995;
- NEFCO/AMAP Report establishing the list of 42 hot spots in 2003;
- The Barents Hot Spots Information System (2007);
- Elaboration of Procedures and Criteria on Exclusion (2010);
- Assessment of the Barents Hot Spot Report (2013);
- Hot Spots – “10-year report” (2013).
Since the Barents Hot Spots Facility became operational, NEFCO has used the BHSF and other funds to promote over 80 specific actions related to the hot spots and other major environmental issues in the region, including inventories, reports, technical assistance, project development as well as actual pilot and demonstration projects in all Barents regions in Russia. NEFCO may support projects and activities in both public and private sector. The supported activities address a wide range of concerns for the climate and environment such as municipal water and wastewater, management of solid and hazardous waste (including medical waste), promotion of clean and sustainable energy, past environmental liabilities (including oil pollution), industrial pollution and issues related to biodiversity and forestry. A current
priority is to combat so-called Black Carbon (BC).
NEFCO has also supported the development of institutions, systems and other innovative concepts that address the hot spots, in close co-operation with other partners and organisations. NEFCO works closely with the Subgroup on Hot Spots Exclusion (SHE) and co-funds an advisor on Climate, Environment and Hot Spots at the International Barents Secretariat (IBS) in Kirkenes (Norway) as well as a number of experts in the thematic task forces (TF) set up by SHE.
Together with the Subgroup on Hot Spots, NEFCO supports a number of Support Activities (SA) with the aim to strengthen environmental actions and the implementation of Best Available Techniques (BAT) in Russia. Such activities include seminars, training sessions, study tours, drafting of action plans and Environmental Efficiency Plans, actions on BAT-based permit granting at selected pilot plans, and voluntary climate inventories.