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Measuring Sustainability in the Russian Arctic: An Interdisciplinary Study

by Votrin, Valery, PhD


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Newly forested area

Brief Definition
Units
Agenda 21

The area of new forest plantation.
ha per year.
Chapter 11: Combating Deforestation.
Policy relevance
(a) Purpose: The purpose of the indicator is to show how large is the area where new forest
has been planted over time.
(b) Relevance to Sustainable Development: See this section in Forest Area Change.
(c) Linkages to Other Indicators: The indicator is closely linked with other forestry indicators
as well as with environmental indicators such as protected area, threatened species,
environmental protection expenditure, etc.
Methodological description
(a) Underlying Definitions and Concepts: Reforestation can be defined as the planting of
forested land that has been lost due to fire, logging, drought, pests, or disease to restore beauty
to the landscape, provide food and habitat for wildlife, and for recreational activities.
(b) Measuring Methods: Leskhozy are responsible for forest planting statistics.
(c) Availability and Sources of Data: Data are available both from Rosstat and the MNR (for
the forests managed by the Ministry).

Protected land area

Brief Definition The area of protected land (including freshwater areas)
expressed as a percentage of the total land.
Units %
Agenda 21 Chapter 15: Conservation of Biological Diversity.
Policy relevance
(a) Purpose: This indicator represents the extent to which areas important for conserving
biodiversity, cultural heritage, scientific research (including baseline monitoring), recreation,
natural resource maintenance, and other values are protected from incompatible uses.
(b) Relevance to Sustainable Development: Protected areas are an essential tool for
ecosystem conservation, with functions going well beyond the conservation of biological
diversity. As such, they are one of the building blocks of sustainable development.

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(c) Linkages to Other Indicators: This indicator is linked to other indicators which have
implications for land and resource use including wood harvesting intensity, forest area, area of
forest fires, etc.
Methodological description
(a) Underlying Definitions and Concepts: The IUCN defines six management categories of
protected area in two groups. Totally protected areas are maintained in a natural state and are
closed to extractive uses. They comprise Category I, Strict Nature Reserves/Wilderness Area;
Category II, National Park, and Category III, National Monument. Partially protected areas are
managed for specific uses such as recreation, or to provide optimum conditions for certain
species or ecological communities. They comprise Category IV, Habitat/Species Management
Area; Category V, Protected Landscape/Seascape; and Category VI, Managed resource
Protected Area.
In Russia, zapovedniki (strict scientific state nature reserves) fall within Category I,
National Parks within Category II, and zakazniki (the areas where temporary, or permanent
limitations are placed upon certain on-site economic activities (e.g. logging, mining, grazing,
hunting, etc.)) and nature monuments within Category III. Other types of protected areas in
Russia include micro-sanctuaries for insects, wetlands protected under international
conventions, scientific forest reserves, special types of “climate regulating” forests along tundraforest
ecotone, and in deserts, green belts around cities, etc. Another designation is the
“specially protected forests”, protected under the Forest Code of Russia.
(b) Measuring Methods: The usefulness of this indicator depends on clearly distinguishing
totally protected areas and partially protected areas, since they have different, although
complementary, functions.
(c) Limitations of the Indicator: The effectiveness of this indicator is limited by two problems.
First, it represents de jure, not de facto protection. It does not indicate the quality of
management or whether the areas are in fact protected from incompatible uses. Second, the
indicator does not show how representative the protected areas are of the country’s ecological
diversity. This is a significant deficiency, since a large proportion of some ecosystems may be
protected to the neglect of others.
(d) Availability and Sources of Data: National data on protected areas in Russia have become
available since recently. There are some contradictions concerning federal and regional
protected areas as well as protected areas managed by various agencies. Data on zakazniki
can be controversial.

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Air emissions

Brief Definition

Units
Agenda 21

National anthropogenic emissions of harmful substances into
the atmosphere.
Tonnes or kilotonnes.
Chapter 9: Protection of the Atmosphere.
Policy relevance
(a) Purpose: The indicator is used to evaluate the environmental performance of national
policies and to describe the environmental pressure in relation to air emission abatement.
(b) Relevance to Sustainable Development: Anthropogenic emissions are influenced by a
country’s industrial structure and energy consumption which in turn are affected by both energy
intensity and efficiency. The emissions are also influenced by the country’s standard of pollution
abatement and control and the use of clean production technology. They give an indication of
human impact on the environment through production and consumption. The efforts to abate
emissions are reflected in national policies and international commitments. Concrete actions
include structural changes in energy demand (energy savings and fuel substitution) as well as
pollution control policies and technical measures.
(c) Linkages to Other Indicators: Emission intensity expressed as quantities emitted per unit
of GRP, per capita and per unit of gross consumption of energy should be presented in order to
assess sustainability. The indicator is therefore closely linked to GRP per head, environmental
protection expenditure, and energy use per capita.
Methodological description
(a) Underlying Definitions and Concepts: Emissions are known by direct measurements in
stacks or by material balances. The total atmospheric emissions include SO2, CO, NH3,
NMVOC, NOx, SOx, PM2.5, particulate matter and TOFP. Generally, air emissions are
calculated with the help of emission factors that reflect the presence of compounds in different
types of fuels and other products:

Emission = (Emission factor) x (Activity level)
(b) Availability and Sources of Data: Data on air emissions at regional and federal level are
readily available from Rosstat as well as can be found in annual national and regional state of
the environment reports.

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Discharge of contaminated wastewater into surface water

Brief Definition

Units
Agenda 21

National or regional collection of wastewater from household,
commercial, industrial or public premises and its conveyance
to a location where it receives treatment sufficient to permit its
discharge to the environment without adverse impact on
public health and the ecosystem.
Cubic metres.
Chapter 18: Protection of the Quality and Supply of
Freshwater Resources: Application of Integrated Approaches
to the Development, Management, and Use of Water
Resources.
Policy relevance
(a) Purpose: This indicator assesses the level of pollution from domestic and
industrial/commercial point sources entering the surface aquatic environment, and monitors
progress towards reducing this potential within a framework of integrated water resources
management.
(b) Relevance to Sustainable Development: Discharging wastewater with little or no treatment
is economically, socially, and environmentally unsustainable, especially recognising the
increasing demands on finite water resources, rapidly expanding populations particularly in
urban areas, industrial expansion, and the need to expand irrigated agriculture. Low water
quality reduces the availability of water resources for specific uses, in particular domestic needs,
and has adverse implications for public health. Wastewater treatment, therefore, is central to the
requirements for sustainability.
(c) Linkages to Other Indicators: This indicator has important linkages to other socioeconomic
and environmental indicators such as population growth, environmental protection
expenditure, etc.
Methodological description
(a) Underlying Definitions and Concepts: The proportion of wastewater to be treated is the
percentage of water consumed and returned to the environment according to criteria and
standards that ensure that it does not impact on the aquatic environment to the detriment of
sustainable development. Within this context, treatment can comprise a wide range of
processes including simple screening, sedimentation, biological-chemical processes, or
appropriately designed marine discharge.
(b) Measuring Methods: The proportion of domestic wastewater (sewage) to be treated in
urban areas can be determined on the basis of the quantity of water consumed by households
as compared to the capacity of wastewater treatment facilities. It can also be estimated on the
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basis of areas of a community connected to the sewerage system and the population inhabiting
these localities.
(c) Limitations of the Indicator: The main limitation of this indicator is the effort required to
collect and collate the information. This can be avoided at least to some extent, through the use
of estimates.
(d) Availability and Sources of Data: Data on wastewater discharge at regional and federal
level are readily available from Rosstat as well as can be found in annual national and regional
state of the environment reports.

Environmental protection investments

Brief Definition Ratio of environmental protection investments to GRP.
Units %
Agenda 21 Chapter 33: Financial Resources and Mechanisms
Policy relevance
(a) Purpose: This indicator measures the efforts undertaken in a region to protect/restore the
environment. Alternatively, it can be interpreted as a measure of the economic cost imposed by
a society to protect its environment.
(b) Relevance to Sustainable Development: This indicator is one measure of the commitment
of society to protect the environment. It assumes that expenditures are necessary and
interpretation may be difficult. A low level of investments does not necessarily mean that a
region is degrading its environment. The indicator tends to emphasise clean-up costs at the
expense of lower cost, more effective protection measures. Nevertheless, the indicator does
provide an indication of government and private sector response to protect the environment.
(c) Linkages to Other Indicators: This indicator is closely linked, for example, with GRP per
head and expenditures on sustainable water management, population density, atmospheric air
protection, land use, and waste collection and disposal.
Methodological description
(a) Underlying Definitions and Concepts: Environmental protection investments are defined
as those expenses which are a response to effects caused by production and for which
environmental protection is the main objective.
(b) Measuring Methods: This indicator is calculated as the ratio of environmental protection
investments to GRP.
(c) Limitations of the Indicator: Environmental protection investments in Russia are very
difficult to measure because of the difficulty of determining whether a new production process is

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adopted to prevent or reduce pollution or to improve efficiency. Comparable data are not readily
available and in some cases are based on incomplete estimates. The total expenses for
environmental protection are not directly comparable.
(d) Availability and Sources of Data: Data on government environmental protection
investments can be found in annual national and regional state of the environment reports.

Generation and handling of hazardous waste

Brief Definition

Units
Agenda 21

Total amount of hazardous waste generated and handled per
year through industrial or other activities.
Metric tonnes
Chapter 20: Environmentally Sound Management of
Hazardous Wastes, including Prevention of Illegal
International Traffic in Hazardous Wastes.
Policy relevance
(a) Purpose: In the case of industrial waste it provides a measure of the extent and type of
industrialisation in a country and in this connection industrial activities of using technologies and
processes generating hazardous waste.
(b) Relevance to Sustainable Development: The generation of hazardous waste has a direct
impact on health and the environment through exposure to this kind of waste. Reduced
generation of hazardous waste may indicate either reduced industrial activities in a country,
introduction of cleaner production in the industrial processes, or changing patterns in
consumers’ habits which implies savings in the use of energy and raw material as well as
improving protection of landscapes. The introduction of environmentally sound management
systems for hazardous waste implies reduction of risks to health and environment due to lesser
exposure to hazardous waste.
(c) Linkages to Other Indicators: This indicator is linked to the amount of hazardous waste
exported or imported, as well as to the indicators on area of land contaminated by hazardous
waste, and expenditures on hazardous waste treatment or disposal.
Methodological description
(a) Underlying Definitions and Concepts: In order to facilitate the definition of whether a
waste, as defined under the Basel Convention, is hazardous or not, the Technical Working
Group established under the Basel Convention has been mandated by the Conference of the
Parties to undertake work on hazard characterization.
(b) Measuring Methods: The information on hazardous waste is collected and added into in
national state of the environment reports by the MNR, albeit not on a regular basis. Regional

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situation is reflected in regional state of the environment reports prepared by relevant statistical
offices.
(c) Limitations of the Indicator: Lack and accuracy of historical data is a serious limitation of
this indicator.
(d) Availability and Sources of Data: Data on hazardous waste are available from annual
state of the environment reports.

INES incidents

Brief Definition

Units
Agenda 21

The number of incidents at International Nuclear Event Scale
(INES) occurred at regional nuclear power plants over time.
Incidents per year.
Chapter 22: Safe and Environmentally Sound Management of
Radioactive Wastes.
Policy relevance
(a) Purpose: The indicator aims at making easier the perception of the significance of incidents
or accidents in nuclear installations.
(b) Relevance to Sustainable Development: In relation to sustainable energy, the Agenda 21
message is unambiguous: “energy is essential to economic and social development and
improved quality of life”. However, the current global pattern of energy supply and use is not
sustainable. Environmentally sound energy approaches are necessary “to control atmospheric
emissions of greenhouse and other gases and substances.” Over the years a global nuclear
safety culture has evolved through international collaborative efforts to strengthen safety
worldwide. Nevertheless, the most convincing demonstration of the adequacy of the global
nuclear safety culture will be the performance of existing plants and the avoidance of any major
safety event in the future. Given the current state of the two NPPs in the Russian Arctic, nuclear
security indicators included in any regional sustainability indicator set will be extremely useful.
(c) Linkages to Other Indicators: This indicator is closely linked to other measures such as
energy use per unit of GRP, environmental protection expenditure, generation of solid
radioactive waste, and generation and recycling of hazardous waste.
Methodological description
(a) Underlying Definitions and Concepts: The INES Scale set up by the IAEA together with
the OECD/NEA is an international scale intended to give rapid and correct information in
comprehensible form on the safety implications of incidents reported from nuclear plants. The
scale runs from 1 to 7. Levels 1 - 3 are termed “incidents” and levels 4 - 7 “accidents”. Incidents

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of no significance for safety are classed 0 on the scale. Level 1 is a “deviation” from normal
operation without importance to safety. Level 7 is a “serious accident” (Chernobyl type).
(b) Limitations of the Indicator: The indicator only provides superficial picture of events
occurred at NPPs and should be used together with other nuclear security indicators.
(c) Availability and Sources of Data: Data on INES incidents stretched well over the last
decade or more are available on the website of Rosatomnadzor.

Generation of solid radioactive waste

Brief Definition

Units
Agenda 21

The generation of radioactive waste derived from various
sources such as nuclear power generation and other related
nuclear fuel cycle activities, radioisotope production and uses,
medical and industrial uses, and research.
Cubic metres.
Chapter 22: Safe and Environmentally Sound Management of
Radioactive Wastes.
Policy relevance
(a) Purpose: The main purpose of this indicator is to measure the generation of solid
radioactive waste produced by fuel and other nuclear activities.
(b) Relevance to Sustainable/Unsustainable Development: Radioactive waste, if not
managed properly, can have a direct impact on human health and the environment through
exposure to ionizing radiation. From a sustainable development viewpoint, it is prudent to keep
radioactive waste generation to the practical minimum, and ensure safe transportation and
storage. Improper management may result in the loss of land, and structures which could be
used for other purposes. The production of radioactive waste indicates several economic and
technical trends in a country. The application of radioactive materials results from an advanced
level of technical knowledge, training, and support. This indicator is also related to the handling
of nuclear waste to reduce the total amount, the availability of appropriate waste disposal
facilities, and the contribution of nuclear power to the total energy output.
(c) Linkages to Other Indicators: This indicator is closely linked to other measures such as
energy use per unit of GRP, air emissions, and generation and handling of hazardous waste.
Methodological description
(a) Underlying Definitions and Concepts: Solid radioactive waste is defined as a solid
material of negligible economic value that contains radio nuclides in excess of threshold
quantities, except for radioactive material from post-weapons-test activities.
(b) Limitations of the Indicator: In Russia, it may be difficult to separate radioactive waste
from the more general category of hazardous waste.
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(c) Availability and Sources of Data: Data on radioactive waste for Russia are can be
obtained only through international organisations such as Bellona. In Russia itself, access to
data is extremely limited.

Variations in mean annual air temperature

Brief Definition

Units
Agenda 21

Seasonal differences in mean annual air temperature around
the Russian Arctic and their seven-year running averages.
Centigrade.
Chapter 9: Protection of the Atmosphere.
Policy relevance
(a) Purpose: The purpose of the indicator is to highlight trends in annual temperature variations
with relation to the Arctic warming and climate change.
(b) Relevance to Sustainable Development: Climate change is one of the most significant
sustainable development challenges facing the international community. Its consequences take
shape of the incontrovertible environmental effects, including the loss of biodiversity and
desertification, and have implications for economic enterprises, social relationships and
people’s health (the spread of vector-borne and bacterial diseases). According to recent
studies, the Arctic seems to be one of the first regions to respond to a global warming trend
which can be at least partly caused by human activity. The Arctic temperatures warmed
significantly over the last decade causing the region’s most dramatic and rapid transformation
for the last four centuries. This poses a threat to the region’s unique ecosystems, economic
development, and human well-being.
(c) Linkages to Other Indicators: The indicator is closely related to several environmental
indicators including air emissions, environmental protection expenditure, number of reindeer
stock, number of polar bear population, etc.
Methodological description
(a) Underlying Definitions and Concepts: The term “climate change” is commonly used
interchangeably with “global warming” and “greenhouse effect”, but is more descriptive. Climate
change refers to the build-up of man-made gases in the atmosphere that trap solar heat,
causing changes in weather patterns on a global scale. The effects include changes in rainfall
patterns, sea level rise, potential droughts, habitat loss, and heat stress. The greenhouse gases
of most concern are carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxides. Climate change may be due
to natural external forcings such as changes in solar emission or slow changes in the earth's

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orbital elements. A link between climate change over the last century and human activity,
specifically the burning of fossil fuels, was indicated.
(b) Measuring Methods: Apart from precipitation, mean annual temperature is the primary
measure of climate. For the Russian Arctic, monthly climate data from 32 meteorological
stations across the Arctic area of the Russian Federation were analysed, and mean annual
temperature for each station was calculated. To calculate temperature variations or anomalies
which are the differences between an actual value and some long-term average value, the
following formula was used:
Anom = X – Xbar,
where

X = actual value of average temperature for a certain month and year and
Xbar = long-term average temperature for a certain month (an average over many years)
Anom = anomaly value for this month and year
To smooth the values, seven-year running averages were calculated using the following
formula:

where
,

N is number of preceding periods included in the running average
Aj is actual value in the moment of time j
Fj is projected value in the moment of time j
(c) Limitations of the Indicator: Climate data can be missing at some stations. Data before
1961 for the Russian Arctic are not available.
(d) Availability and Sources of Data: Data from 32 Russian Arctic meteorological stations are
available from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg through NSIDC.

Reindeer stock

Brief Definition

Units
Agenda 21

The number of domesticated reindeer stock both in state and
private property.
Heads.
Chapter 26: Recognizing and strengthening the role of
indigenous people and their communities.

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