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5.1 Legal regulation in the sphere of environmental protection

As far as transboundary cooperation in the field of environmental protection is concerned, the Russian Federation and Mongolia abide by international and state conventions and agreements. Both states signed Convention on Biological Diversity. Mongolia ratified the Convention in 1993 [1], while Russia ratified it in 1995 [2]. Mongolia is also a party to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Both countries have developed their national biodiversity strategies and roadmaps for biodiversity conservation [3].

In 1996, Lake Baikal was granted the status of a World Heritage site. The cultural landscape of the Orkhon river valley acquired the status in 2000. In accordance with the Convention concerning the protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, the states ascertained that these sites belong to the entire humanity, and all the counties must collaborate for their protection (paragraph 1, Article 6 of the Convention).

Cooperation on the issues of ecological safety and environmental protection began with the signing of the Agreement on the rational use and protection of the Selenga river basin in 1974. In 1988, both countries signed the Agreement on cooperation in water resource management on transboundary territories. In 1994, an agreement on cooperation in the field of environmental protection was signed by the governments of the Russian Federation and Mongolia.  In 1995, the two countries signed the bilateral Agreement on the use and protection of transboundary waters, which replaced the two previous documents and regulating the following aspects [4]:

-  environmentally safe use of water resources, prevention of pollution and water level decline;

-  hydrochemical, hydrobiological investigations and river channel research;

-  joint flood control activities - research, assessment and planning;

-  joint water monitoring and pollution prevention;

-  maintaining conditions necessary for natural migration of fish and other aquatic fauna;

-  development of the conceptual grounds for the management of water resources in river basins;

-  development of common standards and procedures for pollution monitoring;

-  information exchange on the planned measures in water resource management;

-  joint financing of transboundary activities and attraction of international investment;

-  prevention/mitigation of the negative impact on transboundary water basins on national territories.

Both countries have set up a joint working group on transboundary management of Lake Baikal basin under the leadership of the heads of state water resources departments. In 2006, the members of the working group met to discuss in detail joint activities for management of river basins. The Selenga river basin was proposed as the territory for a pilot project.

In 2008, an extended list of polluting substances was compiled, discharges of the substances were to be controlled by both states (heavy metals, oil products and mercury). In addition to that, an agreement was signed dealing with the bilateral assessment of transboundary areas of the Selenga river, its tributaries and health risks in Russia and Mongolia. Both countries undertake hydrological and hydrochemical monitoring, however their national data protocols are different.

In 2011, at a meeting held within framework of the Agreement on the protection and use of transboundary water channels both sides signed the final Protocol on bilateral cooperation. The joint working group discussed the issues of regular information exchange, cooperation on the Agreement implementation and adjustment of monitoring methods between the two countries as well as the list of regulated contaminating substances and water quality standards.

In 2013, meetings of the joint Russian-Mongolian working group (August 1-2, Irkutsk city) and the joint Russian-Mongolian commission (October 28th, Moscow city) were held within the frameworks of the bilateral Agreement. Progress in fulfilling the commitments made by parties, water protection and management measures for transboundary water bodies were discussed. Special attention was given to the prospects of developing a water management complex in the Selenga River basin. Joint initiatives of Mongolia and Russia have been mainly focused on the management of water resources of the Selenga River and the improvement of its water quality. Future management and cooperation should be based on the ecosystem model, uniting land and water components within the whole basin of Lake Baikal and henceforth aiming at the priority issues [3].


5.1 Legal regulation in the sphere of environmental protection

The institutions involved in environmental regulation in Russia and Mongolia are the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism of Mongolia. In 2002, the Government of Russian Federation set up a federal agency for protection of Lake Baikal environment (since 2012 renamed as the Territorial department for water resources of the Yenisei basin administration) in charge of coordinating cooperation with Mongolia on the issues of transboundary water resources [5].

In Russia, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology is the federal body of executive power responsible for developing policies and regulations pertaining to the issues of environmental protection and monitoring. The Federal Agency for Supervision in the Sphere of Nature Management (Rosprirodnadzor) is the federal body of executive power exercising state supervision of Lake Baikal protection. Monitoring activities are also conducted by the Federal Agency for Hydrometeorology and Environment Monitoring (Roshydromet). The Federal Agency for Water Resources (Rosvodresursy) coordinates the use and protection of water resources and conducts water quality monitoring [3].

In 2007, the State Duma established the Interdepartmental Committee for Lake Baikal Protection which included representatives from the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology, Rosprirodnadzor, representatives of Irkutsk region, the Republic of Buryatia, Zabaikalsky Krai, six federal ministries (for agriculture, economic development, emergency situations, industry and trade, energy and foreign affairs) and the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The mission of the Committee is the development and coordination of state policies for Lake Baikal protection. The Committee is also responsible for the implementation of legal documents in the field of environmental protection and rational management of natural resources within Lake Baikal Natural Territory, ecosystem monitoring and fulfilling the obligations of protecting the lake as a UNESCO world heritage site. During 2009-2012, the Committee held five sessions [3].

In 2013, two sessions of the newly composed Interdepartmental Committee were held (the new composition of the committee was announced by the order of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology №148 dated April 18, 2013) (pic. 5.5.1) [4].

Pic. 5.1.1 A meeting of the Interdepartmental Committee for Lake Baikal Protection with the participation of the Minister of Natural Reesources and Ecology Donskoy S.E. (July 29, 2013, Ulan-Ude).

In 2013, as a result of the committee’s work, the following activities were excluded from the List of activities prohibited within the Central Economic Zone of the Lake Baikal Natural Territory:

- bottling the lake’s water;

- processing of wild plants, and vegetables, fruits and berries from individual households and farming enterprises;

- production of plant-based medicinal preparations.

Major legal documents of Russia.

Law on Lake Baikal Protection (1999, amendments were made in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011). This law is the only federal law, regulating the issues of water protection and use of natural resources in a particular region. The law includes 4 major sections:

1)                      major provisions defining Lake Baikal Natural Territory, including the Central Ecological Zone, the Buffer Zone covering the lake basin area within the Russian Federation, and the Zone of Atmospheric Impact;

2)                      protection regime of Lake Baikal Natural Territory, prohibiting or restricting certain types of economic activities, identifying the ways of protecting endemic animals and plants, managing the land and forest resources, and organizing tourism and recreation (pic. 5.1.2);

3)                      thresholds of maximum permissible impact on the unique ecological system of the lake and Lake Baikal Natural Territory;

4)                      state regulation in the area of Lake Baikal protection, making provisions for the development of integrated approaches to the use and protection of natural resources of Lake Baikal Natural Territory, the environmental certification of economic activities, the prohibition or conversion of the most dangerous activities, and conducting the state environmental supervision and monitoring.

The law provides the basis and coordination structure for the protection of Lake Baikal. The implementation of the law is based on and regulated by the adopted by-laws [3].

Рис. 5.1.2 A banner with a description of the prohibited activities within the water protection zone

The Government of the Russian Federation passed a number of resolutions: Decision № 643 of 2001 on the legal regulation of nature management; Decision № 1641 of 2006 on the demarcation of ecological zone boundaries within LBNT; Decision № 234 of 2001 on the regulation of Lake Baikal water level by Irkutsk hydro-electric power station. The Decision of the Government of the Russian Federation № 67 of 2002 established the guidelines for catching endemic aquatic species and gathering endemic species of aquatic plants.

Environmental regulation arising out of the government decisions restricts the scope and character of natural resource use, imposing high requirements towards the industrial processes and water treatment facilities, towards the development and implementation of the respective measures, requiring additional material and financial resources  [5].

Law on environmental protection (2002) defines the legal basis for state policies in the field of environmental protection on the basis of the balanced environmental and social-economic development. The law identifies key notions, mechanisms, instruments and priorities for protection of the environment, including surface and ground waters, forests, vegetation, and biodiversity. One of the provisions of the law stipulates that the Russian environmental legislation is based on the Constitution of the Russian Federation and comprises a set of federal laws and strategies as well as regional laws.

Law on the animal world (2004) regulates the relations in the area of animal world protection, including preservation and restoration of the natural habitats with the purpose of maintaining biological diversity, sustainable use of all components of the ecosystems. The animal world is the state property in the Russian Federation. Considered federal property are the rare and disappearing species recorded in the Red Book of the Russian Federation as well as the species inhabiting specially protected natural territories of the federal level (pic. 5.1.3).

Pic. 5.1.3  The website “Red book of the Republic of Buryatia”

Water code (2006) regulates protection of coastal territories and land around water bodies. Modern water resource management should be based on the use of a basin-wide approach. Lake Baikal is part of the Angara-Baikal water basin (pic. 5.1.4). The code stipulates the sphere and degree of responsibility of government agencies in water resource management.

Pic. 5.1.4 A meeting of the Yenisei river basin council (April 3, 2014; Ulan-Ude city).

Forest code (2007) regulates protection of forests, conservation of their biological diversity, use of forest resources taking into account their global ecological significance, forest reproduction, improvement their quality and productivity, preservation of forest’s environment-forming, water-protecting, sanitary and recuperative functions. The use, protection and restoration of forests are carried out based on the idea of forest as an ecological system or a natural resource. The code makes provisions for establishment of a legal regime for the forests located within specially protected territories and water-protection zones.

Law on fishing and protection of aquatic bio-resources (2004) regulates the establishment of water quality standards for water bodies important for fishing and sets the requirements for water bodies. The law also facilitates the protection of water bodies with the purpose of conserving valuable species of fish and other aquatic bio-resources. For this purpose, the Law allows for the establishment of specially protected territories with respect to fish species. The implementation of the Law is impeded by the absence of special legal norms for the establishment of such territories.

Law on specially protected natural territories (1995, with 2008 amendments) introduces permanent federal control over specially protected natural territories, identifies categories of specially protected natural territories, and delineates the competencies of federal and regional authorities. The law sets up the legal frameworks for the establishment and management of specially protected natural territories with the purpose of protecting biological diversity.

In 1999, the Government of Mongolia approved National Water Program and, in 2000, set up the National Water Committee, which is in charge of the implementation, regulation and control of the program, and coordination and control over implementation of water-related policies.

National Water Committee upholds the implementation of water-related policies for the rational use of water resources, their restoration, conservation, pollution prevention and the provision of consumers with the sufficient amount of drinking water. National Water Committee plays the role of an interdepartmental coordination center for the respective ministries and fragmented sector of water resource management. National Water Committee administers the National Program for protection of water sources developed by the Ministry of Environment and Green Development.

From 2012, National Water Committee is subordinate to the administration of the prime minister. Ministry of Environment and Green Development is responsible for the coordination of all the ministries dealing with water resources, such as the Ministry of civil engineering, Ministry of industry and agriculture, and Agency for special control, which establishes environmental and water quality standards and identifies law violations [3].

Legislation basis of Mongolia [5].

Law on water (2004, replaced by the new Law on Water in 2012) regulates the relationships arising out of the regular use, protection and restoration of water resources and water-catchment areas. In accordance with Article 19, councils for river basins or water-catchment areas are established as a way to involve the local population in water resource management with the purpose of protection, sustainable use and restoration of water resources.

Law on specially protected territories (1994) puts into place the system of protected territories at the national and local levels and sets up administrative norms for the national specially protected territories. The law regulates the use and acquisition of land for the protection and conservation of valuable resources having biological, landscape and scientific value.

Law on environmental protection (1995 г.) aims at the protection, sustainable development and restoration of natural resources. It identifies the right over natural resources stating that «land, its natural resources, forests, water, animals, plants and other natural resources are protected by the state and are considered property of the state unless they constitute the property of Mongolian citizens».

Law on forests (2007) regulates protection, possession and reproduction of forests. Any activities are prohibited within the protected forests «with the exception of construction of the required infrastructure, forest restoration, purification and use of non-woody resources».

Law on raw materials (1997) regulates the exploration and mining activities in Mongolia. Article 30 of the law identifies the area of responsibility of proprietors in the field of environment protection, mining licenses, including the requirement for conducting environmental impact assessment and designing environmental management plan. Such responsibility includes specific measures for mitigating detrimental impact on the natural environment.

Law on the prohibition of rock mining in the upper reaches of rivers, protection zones of water objects and forests (2009). This law restricts mining in the watershed area and revokes licenses from the enterprises hitherto functioning on the territories.

There are eight other laws related to the water resource management, including the Law on sanitation and hygiene, the Law on industrial and domestic wastes, and the Law on urban water supply and sewage systems. On the whole, the body of laws incorporates more than 40 rules and standards related to water [3].

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