Chebocksary SPAN/IREX Project Activities

Dr. Tatiana Guseva, Ecoline Russia
January, 2000

The USAID sponsored project "Increased RF Citizens' Participation in the Development and Implementation of Environmental Management Systems as an Internationally Approved Instrument of the Sustainable Economic Growth" is being implemented jointly by two non-governmental organizations: ECOLOGIA (US) and Ecoline (RF). Ecoline and ECOLOGIA have co-operated on various projects since 1994 and this project has been built on that successful and productive partnership.

The "Increased RF Citizens' Participation" project is aimed at gradually introducing into the RF Environmental Management Systems (EMS) that will support sustainable development. EMSs are widely recognized throughout the world as a highly effective approach to pollution prevention and managing environmental impacts. A key component of a successful EMS is promoting public participation in environmental decision-making.

The project builds upon of a series of projects and activities initiated and sponsored by USAID in the Russian Federation. These include training programs in Public Participation in Environmentally Sound Decision-Making, Environmental Auditing, Environmental Management Systems, and Integrated Management Systems. The goals of this program supports the following USAID strategic objectives:

  • Increased environmental management capacity to support sustainable economic growth;
  • Increased, better-informed citizens' participation in political and economic decision making

In addition, the program goals reflect the RF priority directions of the National Environmental Action Plan which sets national aims and objectives for 1999-2001.

The Chebocksary Region in the Republic of Chuvashia was considered for participation in the project because it is a highly industrialized region where EMSs are needed in order to address the many environmental problems in the region. A number of companies in the region expressed an interest in participating in the project, however, due to budget constraints only one could be chosen. "Dieselprom" , a company that produces diesel engines for industrial tractors, energy generation and other purposes was chosen because of it's management's commitment to the project and the significant environmental improvements that could occur at its production facilities if an EMS is successfully implemented.

A total of four meetings with "Dieselprom" management were held during the visit in November. During the on-site practical exercises and the preliminary environmental assessment, "Dieselprom" senior management and employees demonstrated substantial interest by actively participating in the training programs. To increase the effectiveness of the project activities, a special set training materials was prepared.. An emphasis was made on the opportunities for the interrelated development and implementation of Quality and Environmental Management Systems.

The USAID-Moscow Environmental policy advisor, Mr. Yuri Kazakov took an active part in the project. He gave comprehensive explanations to "Dieselprom" management, explaining USAID strategic objectives and USAID programs aimed at the support of voluntary environmental activities in the Russian Federation. He also commented on the recommendations prepared for the industry as a result of preliminary environmental assessment and suggested opportunities to implement them. His participation was a significant contribution to the project's success.

In addition to the site specific training at the "Dieselprom" facility, a regional training program seminar was provided for interested civil activists, enterprise managers and supervisors, regional and local governmental officials in the Chebocksary region. Participants in the seminar were trained and made aware of sound environmental management principles and practices, with the environmental assessment results obtained at "Dieselprom" serving as a local case study. To demonstrate the great potential of using an effective EMS a number of other case studies obtained by Ecoline/ECOLOGIA via various USAID sponsored projects were used. A special emphasis was put on the importance of public dialogue, collaboration and transparency in order to implement an effective EMS. The workshop participants were addressed by Chuvashia Deputy Minister for Industry Mr. Victor Ercikov who emphasised the urgent necessity for the implementation of new management tools in the republic.

The presentation made by Mr. Yuri Kazakov at the seminar attracted the interest of many participants who asked questions dealing with USAID strategic objectives, USAID sponsored environmental programs, and ROLL program activities in the RF and Republic of Chuvashia. SPAN program manager, Mrs. Inga Pagava described SPAN and other IREX programs. She also discussed the successes of Russian industries that participated in previous projects however, she said that in , her opinion "Dieselprom's" involvement in the project is was the most active to date.

Chebocksary events were widely publicized by regional media who interviewed USAID-Moscow Environmental policy advisor , SPAN program manager, Ecoline staff and experts as well as "Dieselprom" managers and workshop participants.

Generally speaking, the SPAN/IREX project events in Chebocksary have become a further step in the wider dissemination of effective environmental management systems in the Russian Federation. The supportive and open involvement of the partner enterprise "Dieselprom" was critical to successfully promoting public participation and involving various interested parties in the implementation of the first EMS in the Chebocksary region. It was agreed that "Dieselprom" would continue to receive consultations via Ecoline 'help-desk' and would explore opportunities to send staff members to Moscow for the additional training.

The Chebocksary program was built upon the successes of earlier programs, and the lessons learned from this program will in turn be used to build even better programs in the future.

Chebocksary activities and other SPAN/IREX project events are presented at the Ecoline web site.