President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Ivanov, the conditions in which we live and work today are well known to everyone, and priorities are being arranged accordingly.
But there are matters of lasting importance. They are of great importance both for the economy and for each person – these are, first of all, issues related to the environment. These are, I repeat, issues of industrial development and human health.
You also deal with these problems through the Executive Office. What do you consider to be most relevant and important? What has been done over the past year and what is most significant in the coming year?
Special Presidential Representative for Environmental Protection, Ecology and Transport Sergei Ivanov: Mr President, first of all, I would like to say that the financing of the Ecology national project, adopted at your initiative, is implemented in stages, and this year 280 billion rubles will be allocated for this project. There were no cuts, and this confirms that the Government is very attentive to this issue.
Speaking about the most important things planned for 2023, I would single out a draft law on expanding producer responsibility, which is to be submitted by the Government to the State Duma. This is a very complex law; it has been in development for more than one year. It is associated with the disposal of packaging, and packaging makes up a significant share of solid waste today.
Not only does all trade involve some kind of packaging, but there is also industrial packaging, and this includes a huge amount of materials, such as cardboard, plastic, cellophane – something that every person sees in stores every day. And this law means that now packaging manufacturers are fully responsible for either its disposal or burial.
At this point, not all plastics are recycled, of course, although a significant amount of them is. However, coloured plastics cannot be recycled yet. But in any case, packaging producers should either recycle their packaging themselves (they have been given the legal right to do this) or, if they are reluctant or unable to do it, they have to pay for someone else to recycle their packaging.
The law includes incentives. For example, if – and I believe this will happen – a packaging producer recycles its packaging and reuses the plastic, polyethylene or cardboard (cardboard is obviously completely recycled as scrap paper), such businesses will be given a benefit because they reuse the same material in production. I think this is an important law.
The second point I wanted to make is a subject you are interested in – the preservation of bio-diversity. All these programmes are being successfully implemented and not only for the tiger and the leopard but also other species.
I will start by stating that at present we have 25 percent of Russia’s territory under some category of protection. The protected nature conservation areas have the toughest restrictions; nothing can be developed there at all. There are also reserves and national parks – the restrictions in these are a little more lenient, but they are also being controlled. With 25 percent of the territory, we lead the world in this respect, and we have things to be proud of.
As for specific animals, first, the Amur tiger preservation programme is progressing very successfully. The tiger population, which is recorded by video and trail cameras, has increased by 150. The peopulation has grown, and it is very gratifying.
The key is a rigorous protection system. The law, passed at your initiative, on upgrading penalties for poaching endangered species has yielded the expected results. The law has been made even stricter, and poachers are already serving prison terms. Actually, these cases have now become isolated and very rare.
As you know, we launched the leopard preservation and recovery programme when the population was at 30, on the brink of extinction. Now there are 130 leopards. But just as in life in general, when resolving one problem, you get another one: they have become short on space as each male needs its own domain. So, in 2023 we are opening a second national park to the north of Vladivostok called Ussuriysky, and by the end of the year we will relocate several leopards to that reserve. There are ungulates there for them to feed on, every eventuality has been covered. I think this project will also succeed.
Vladimir Putin: Fine.
The Government has been actively involved in this; all the plans are being implemented. I would ask you to cover the coordination of their efforts, including the parliament, the State Duma, especially when related bills are being considered.
Sergei Ivanov: I will.