The round table Lake Baikal Is a Gem of the World devoted to the 10th anniversary of Lake Baikal being included in the UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites, took place on December 14, 2006 in the Republic of Buryatia National Library. It was organized by the Republic of Buryatia Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications, the Republic of Buryatia National Library and the UNESCO International Chair of ecological ethics at East Siberian State Technological University.
Representatives of the organizations and institutions of Buryatia connected in this or that way with nature and Lake Baikal protection took part in the work of the round table: the power bodies educational and research institutions, social non-government organizations and culture institutions. The participants listened to the reports delivered by representatives of the Republic of Buryatia Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection, the Republic of Buryatia Ministry of Economic Development and Foreign Affairs, the Federal Administration of nature protection activity at Lake Baikal – “Baikalpriroda” of the Russian Federation Ministry of Natural Resources, Sustainable Development Institute of East Siberian State Technological University, Baikal Institute of Nature Usage of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Buryatia Regional Lake Baikal Association, FIRN Club, “Gran” (Facet) Baikal Information Centre and the “Great Baikal Trail” project.
So, Lake Baikal has been on the UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites for 10 years already. The round table participants spoke about the results of nature protection activity in that period, the lake protection problems, the activity of government and non-government organizations, as well as about the problems of their cooperation.
The Minister of culture and mass communications of the Republic of Buryatia Vladimir B. Prokopiev greeted the participants. He pointed out that the round table was held within the framework of the 11th International Book Salon devoted to the Republican Reading Year closing. The Book Salon is a traditional activity of the National Library involving more and more participants every year. And every time the themes of the activities broaden. The Minister expressed his hope that the discussion devoted to the problems of Lake Baikal would determine the further steps to preserve the lake.
The director of the Republic of Buryatia National Library Irina Kh. Balkhaeva spoke about the activity of the libraries of the republic in the field of ecological information. The libraries solve various complicated problems, and the idea of their tasks and opportunities is changing. The Baikal Information Centre is opened in the Republic of Buryatia National Library, and there are certain achievements: bibliographic reference database on Lake Baikal is compiled; information Internet site “Baikal-Lake” in Russian and English is available (http://www.baikal-center.ru).
B.D. Angaev, the first Deputy Minister of the Republic of Buryatia Natural Resources and Environment Protection Ministry dwelt upon the problems of legal provision of natural resources protection and usage of the Baikal natural territory; he also attracted the audience’s attention to the absence of the procedure of the state and its federal centre economic responsibility for the determined status of the Baikal natural territory.
Deputy Chief of the Federal Administration of nature protection activity at Lake Baikal – “Baikalpriroda” of the Russian Federation Ministry of Natural Resources O.P. Kolomeyets devoted her report to the problems of ecological zones of Lake Baikal and determining the borders of the Baikal natural territory. The discussion that followed revealed the problems: the legal acts on Lake Baikal protection contradict each other very often; it is necessary to determine ecological standards and to organize a special body to protect Lake Baikal.
The round table participants discussed the problems connected with organizing the Baikal tourism and recreation zone. The UNESCO status is a kind of guarantee warranty of the object natural uniqueness from the point of view of nature protection, research and aesthetics, which makes the territory attractive for the development of tourism. It is known that in the beginning of December Buryatia became one of the winners of the competition to create a special economic zone of tourism and recreation type. It is a historic event for the republic, which will allow to start a new stage of economic development, but what about ecology? The Republic of Buryatia Ministry of Economic Development and Foreign Affairs, as its consultant V.D. Sharaldaeva mentioned, is planning to develop Alpine skiing and ecological tourism, to build and develop tourist infrastructure.
The report “UNESCO Strategy: Education for the Sustainable Development of the Baikal Natural Territory” was made by the Director of Sustainable Development Institute of East Siberian State Technological University, the Head of the UNESCO International Chair, V.V. Mantatov. Sustainable development is not only economic development of the territory, he pointed out. The main task is to create the noosphere, the spiritual values, to reach the harmony of man, nature and the society. According to N. Vernadsky, human personality is above all, that’s why it is necessary to mold a moral personality, able to solve the problems formulated by neoclassical science. Education plays a great role in it.
The Director of non-government organization “Gran” (Facet) Baikal Information Centre N.Zh. Dagbaeva spoke about practical steps to carry out the UNESCO educational activity for sustainable development. She pointed out that in spite of the fact that Lake Baikal is on the UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites, its preservation depends on solving the problems of nature protection locally. The “Gran” Baikal Information Centre has been working for 7 years already, they made ecological education concept, organized a network of ecology-friendly schools, methodological literature is published, international projects are worked out.
Deputy Head of the FIRN Club Ye.K. Ilyina spoke about the role of a non-government organization in the social life. In her opinion such an organization should balance the interests of the society, provoke solving the problems which arise, and non-government organizations are especially interested in sustainable development. FIRN Club makes its contribution to it by developing the concept of ecological tourism.
Another representative of a non-government social organization, the Director of the Buryatia Regional Lake Baikal Association S.G. Shapkhaev expressed his opinion that the republican economics is of shadow character. Great economic projects are promoted, but Buryatia will not gain anything from them, whereas the energy saving projects lose. He pointed out that it is necessary to make amendments to the Federal Law “On Lake Baikal Protection”. It is especially true for determining the borders of the lake basin territory which should correspond with the central economic zone borders.
The people making decisions are far form up-to-date problems. This was the main idea expressed by the round table participants throughout the discussion. The “Great Baikal Trail” project coordinator, A.Ya. Suknev, agrees with it. The idea of the project has been 35 years old already. It is a multi-target long-term project. But hiking trails are in bad condition nowadays, whereas it is impossible to develop tourism in the republic or to attract more tourists without the trails, as well as without simplified visa getting procedure. It is necessary for state power bodies to pay attention to such projects.
The report summing up the problems was implemented by A.K. Tulokhonov, the Director of Baikal Nature Usage Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He mentioned the following problems in the development of the Baikal region sustainable development: the federal centre ignores the functions of the federal property management; he significance of the World Heritage Site is just a declaration; absence of the regions’ land property; prohibition mechanism of the present-day legislation; social inactivity and consumer mood in the society; absence of realistic and comprehensive ecologic policy of the state.
The conditions to carry out the programme of the Baikal region sustainable development are as follows, as the Director of Baikal Nature Usage Institute stated: organizing the coordinating body carrying out nature protection tasks between the centre and the regions, among the regions, in the regions; expanded development of the population’s ecological culture; professional management and educating the managers; tax flows into the sphere of solving real ecological problems, development of private ecological business, organizing new economic mechanisms and funds etc.
In conclusion the draft resolution was discussed and the round table resolution was adopted. We hope that the round table recommendations will determine the further steps to develop the legislation base, let the participants of nature protection work protect Lake Baikal more practically and fruitfully and help carry out the strategy of the Baikal natural territory sustainable development.