SOCHI, September 18 (Itar-Tass) —— State-owned corporation Resorts of the North Caucasus /RNC/ is ready to undertake a leadership role in preserving the ecosystem of the region and will develop an environmental charter for this purpose, Director General of RNC Alexei Nevsky told a round table called Preserving the ecosystem of the North Caucasus, which was held on Saturday at the International Investment Forum in Sochi.
The company will develop a set of principles for protection of the environment to base all its actions, he said.
"These guidelines will cover all key areas, including land, water, energy, forests, regional and international cooperation, public awareness,” Nevsky explained. “And for this purpose, RNC creates a new executive body - the Environmental Council, where efforts of the staff - experts in ecology- will be united with efforts of national and international non-governmental organisations, government agencies, as well as business partners in the project."
Nevsky hopes that "the precedent of gentle handling of nature, which will be created by the Resorts of the North Caucasus, "will be an example of implementation of any other systemic efforts aimed at economic and social development of not only the North Caucasus region, but the entire country."
Vice-Speaker of the State Duma Svetlana Zhurova warned "environmental organisations from speculations about development of resorts in the North Caucasus."
"Public organisations are often involved in speculative debates, thereby extorting money from businesses. Sometimes, businesses are misusing their capabilities. It must be stopped and we should work together and in good faith," she said.
The RNC ecology related part of the project can and should be worked out thoroughly before the construction starts, she continued.
"Compared to the Olympic construction in Sochi, the project of tourism cluster has a huge advantage - it starts from zero, it does not have hard deadlines and a fixed construction plan, it has an opportunity to avoid mistakes and to be an innovative, including use of new environmental technologies."
Most participants agreed that implementation of the North Caucasus tourism cluster’s project is possible without damaging the ecosystem of the region. In particular, the program coordinator for biodiversity of World Wildlife Fund /WWF/ - Russia Vladimir Krever expressed the hope that RNC will implement jointly the program in the North Caucasus region on keeping biodiversity.
"Development of tourism is the engine that can pull the economy of this deeply subsidised region and ensure its socio-economic development", he said.
Chairman of the Central Council of the All-Russian Society for Nature Protection, Senator Constantine Tsybko is convinced that the unique ecosystem of the North Caucasus can be saved during the project, and that the local people will get new jobs and will be able to improve their welfare. "The Caucasus is home to millions of people and it is impossible to talk about complete conservation of these areas," - he said. He is sure that the project will enhance protection of the territories, which do not have a status of reserves, by limiting them from industrial use.
Member of the Board of Environmental Watch on North Caucasus Suren Gazarian called RNC to greater openness in the project. According to him, "we are not opposed to tourism in the North Caucasus, but rather on the opposite."
"But we and Greenpeace have a lot of questions because the project still has not become transparent for the public," – he said. The main thing is to identify and solve all problems of the project before the construction begins, he stressed.