'The Concept of "Green Economy" in Strategic Planning Documents' nbpublish.com
Translate this page:
Please select your language to translate the article

You can just close the window to don't translate
Your profile

Back to contents


The Concept of "Green Economy" in Strategic Planning Documents

Ignat'eva Inna Anatol'evna

Doctor of Law

Professor, Department of Environmental and Land Law, Faculty of Law, Lomonosov Moscow State University

119991, Russia, Moscow, Leninskie Gory str., 1, p. 13






Review date:


Publish date:


Abstract: The article analyzes and systematizes the cases of using the concept of "green economy" in strategic planning documents at the federal and regional levels. The basis for understanding the "green" economy in Russian regulatory legal acts, which include strategic planning documents, are international-level agreements. Thematic reports of official international organizations are also of some importance. The main characteristics of the "green" economy made at the international level are emphasized: environmental taxation, energy efficiency improvement, reduction of consumption of natural resources, reduction of waste, use of renewable energy sources, development of a low-carbon economy, etc. The general context of understanding the "green" economy at the international level is also important. It is connected both with the concept of sustainable development and with the realization of the task of poverty eradication. In other words, the "green" economy should have a wide range of applications and involves a number of its manifestations. According to the Final Document of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), the participating countries of the Conference only identified some contexts for understanding the "green" economy, and also formulated the main results to be obtained when implementing the tools of the "green" economy. It is established that the mention of the "green" economy in strategic planning documents occurs in two main aspects: firstly, as a modern attribute of regulation of environmental and natural resource activities, and exclusively in a positive sense; secondly, as a challenge and even a threat to the implementation of certain types of activities. When stating such opposite assessments of the importance of the development of the "green" economy for the Russian Federation, it is necessary to endow the concept of "green economy" with legally significant characteristics, signs and criteria. The general framework of such a definition is laid down at the level of international legal regulation, while specific directions should depend on the needs and conditions of the economy, social sphere and the state of the environment in the Russian Federation.


green economy, waste, green technologies, strategic planning document, energy, nuclear energy, hydropower, agriculture, renewable energy, recycling

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

The concept of "green economy" is used in strategic planning documents both at the federal level and at the level of the subjects of the Russian Federation. Actually, before the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, the mention of the "green" economy in official documents was almost a one-time thing. Thus, once and in the most abstract sense, the "green" economy was mentioned in the Main Activities of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Tatarstan for 2010-2015, approved by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Tatarstan No. 425 dated June 2, 2010 [1, p. 27]. Now the term "green economy" has become somewhat more often used in the texts of strategies for the most important areas of development of the Russian Federation. In parallel, the "green" economy is the subject of a significant number of scientific papers [2],[3],[4],[5].

However, both in strategic planning documents and in theoretical works, the concept of "green economy", as a rule, is not accompanied by the allocation of a clear set of legally significant criteria and features. In other words, based only on the actual use of this concept in certain texts, it is sometimes impossible to determine its content and scope, to designate specifically what distinguishes a "green" economy from a "non-green" one.

A number of researchers, when revealing the essence of the "green" economy, rely on the main characteristics of the "green" economy formulated in the 2011 UNEP Report. "Towards a green economy: ways to sustainable development and poverty eradication a summary report for representatives of government structures" (URL: www.unep.org/greeneconomy ) [6],[7]. Such an economy is described in this Report as increasing the well-being of people, ensuring social justice, and at the same time significantly reducing the risks to the environment and its impoverishment. The "green" economy in this document is primarily associated with ensuring low emissions of carbon compounds, as well as with the efficient use of resources. It is obvious that the statements set out in such a document as the UNEP Report, from a legal point of view, do not and should not form a direct legal basis for understanding the "green" economy. In addition, the above characteristics are too abstract: in fact, they can be summed up to the fact that when implementing the concept of a "green" economy, everything should become very good for both the environment and society. This is not a very clear definition, we believe, rather it should be evaluated from the position of setting some ideological guidelines and formulating the foundations for the corresponding political direction. It is significant, for example, that in the Report on the work of the Regional Meeting on Preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Geneva, December 1-2, 2011) (URL: https://unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/documents/2011/ece/e.ece.rpm.2011 .2.add.1.r.pdf) it is largely about the search for political tools for the implementation of the ideas of the "green" economy by states.

The report of the Secretary-General at the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (May 17-19, 2010) contains a list of tools that should be used in a "green" economy. These include, in particular: "environmental" taxation; state procurement policy encouraging the formation of "green" enterprises and markets; public investments in infrastructure that ensures the preservation and increase of natural capital, including public transport, the use of renewable energy sources, infrastructure related to energy efficiency improvement.

The correlation of this toolkit with the approaches in the current Russian legislation allows us to conclude that certain areas of development associated with the formation of a "green" economy have been present in the legal regulation of various groups of public relations for quite a long time. Thus, Federal Law No. 7-FZ of January 10, 2002 "On Environmental Protection" (Federal Law of the Russian Federation. 2002. No. 2. Article 133), in Chapter IV, combines legal regulation regarding two instruments of the "green" economy at once: a) state support for activities carried out for the purpose of environmental protection (it is obvious that the activities of "green" enterprises should be attributed to such); b) payments for negative environmental impact. With regard to the attribution of the latter direction of legal regulation to the instruments of the "green" economy, namely, to the system of environmental taxation, it is important to proceed from the understanding of payments for environmental management in their broad sense, that is, with the inclusion in their concept of payments for negative impact, as actually performing the role of environmental taxes, which is convincingly shown by A.A. Yalbulganov [8, pp. 19-20, 34-35].

Russia has also formed legislation on energy conservation and energy efficiency improvement, headed by Federal Law No. 261-FZ of November 23, 2009 "On Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Improvement and on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation" (Federal Law of the Russian Federation. 2009. No. 48. St. 5711).

Thus, some of the measures that the state should take to ensure the development of a "green" economy have received a detailed regulatory and legal consolidation. At the same time, it is important to emphasize that these legislative acts and subordinate regulatory legal acts adopted on their basis do not operate with the concept of a "green economy" [9]. In other words, while actually providing mechanisms for the implementation of individual instruments of the "green" economy, the current legislation does not formally link the relevant regulations with the "green" economy. This provision could be adjusted in terms of the consolidation of new terminology in the law that meets international approaches, when amendments and additions are made to the texts of these legislative acts, as well as by-laws adopted in their development. Thus, the course for the construction of a "green" economy would receive a clearer regulatory and legal formalization.

This seems all the more necessary to us because in the Final Document of the Rio+20 Conference "The future we want" (hereinafter referred to as the Final Document), the impossibility of considering the "green" economy as a single set of approaches and rules for all states is explicitly noted. Thus, having agreed to consider the "green" economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and as one of the important tools for ensuring sustainable development, the participating States considered it necessary to emphasize that the "green" economy can provide various options for policy formation, but should not be a rigid set of rules (paragraph 56 of the Final Document). This is an understandable approach, since states differ significantly among themselves in economic, political, geographical, and climatic realities. Taking into account all of them, forming a certain complex of imperative regulations under the name "green economy", obviously does not seem acceptable and convincing. The same circumstance was reflected at the stage of preparation for the Rio+20 Conference, in particular, in the Report on the work of the Regional Meeting on Preparations for the 2011 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, where state delegations expressed the opinion that there could not be a single universal approach to the issue of a "green" economy due to the specifics of economic and political conditions in each country.

This emphasis on the impossibility of establishing a clear and unambiguous framework for understanding the "green" economy means, in the end, the practical impracticability of the task of unambiguously defining the relevant concept as an international legal one, significant for all States at the same time. The same vision seems appropriate to interpret from another point of view as recognition of the right of different countries to understand the "green" economy in a certain range of characteristics. In particular, general descriptions of the directions and results that are indicated for the participating States of the Rio+20 Conference in its Final Document can act as such. In this series: promoting poverty eradication, sustained economic growth, social integration, improving human well-being and creating opportunities for employment and decent work for all, ensuring the normal functioning of the planet's ecosystems, introducing rational consumption and production models, reducing waste, etc. (paragraphs 56, 58, 60 of the Final Document).

Thus, we believe that certain guidelines and frameworks have been set at the international level for understanding the term "green economy", as well as related and derived terms "green growth", "green investment", "green development" [10], etc. P., when they are used in Russian strategic planning documents. Nevertheless, the study of the use of the term "green economy" in the current strategic planning documents shows the opposite: as a rule, the understanding of the meaning of this term, firstly, is not as wide and versatile as in international documents, and secondly, sometimes does not imply an unambiguously positive context.

So, the "green" economy is often mentioned in strategic planning documents in the context of mainly environmental and natural resource agenda: simultaneously with the tasks of environmental protection, ensuring environmental safety, as well as in a single row with issues in the field of ecology. In such cases, as a rule, it is the general background that indicates certain ideas about the "green" economy when planning, forecasting, programming certain areas of activity. In particular, the Fundamentals of State Policy in the field of use, protection, protection and Reproduction of Forests in the Russian Federation for the period up to 2030, approved by the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dated September 26, 2013 No. 1724-r (NW RF. 2013. No. 40 (Part III). Article 5096), stipulate that when solving the task of developing the domestic market of forest paper products, the formation of the market of ecological forest products, environmental and other ecosystem services in the field of forests, the development of the "green" economy and bioenergy should be promoted (item 14).

In the Strategy of Socio-economic Development of the Moscow Region for the period up to 2030, approved by the Decree of the Government of the Moscow Region dated December 28, 2018 No. 1023/45, the concept of a "green" economy is noted in the section devoted to the priority area "Environmental protection and ecology". Thus, the above-mentioned Strategy states the need to implement measures aimed at encouraging enterprises to invest in the modernization of production (treatment facilities, filters) in order to reduce the negative impact on the environment, including financial assistance, the development of a "green" economy, high technologies and alternative energy sources.

The topic of the "green" economy is also raised in the documents of strategic planning for the development of agriculture. In particular, as a result of amendments to the state program of the Kaluga Region "Support for the development of the Russian Cossacks in the Kaluga Region" (Resolution of the Government of the Kaluga Region dated November 2, 2017 No. 641), the program established that "the development of Cossack agricultural production will be directed to the production of environmentally friendly products, which is based on the principles of the "green economy" will be laid down."

The introduction of the principles of the "green" economy in the Strategy of socio-economic development of the Kostroma region for the period up to 2035, approved by the order of the Administration of the Kostroma region dated July 12, 2021 No. 165-ra, is seen as one of the key opportunities for the development of this subject of the Russian Federation. However, what exactly these principles are, the Strategy is silent. The same principles and also without disclosing their content are mentioned in the Strategy of Socio-economic Development of the Vologda Region for the period up to 2030, approved by the Decree of the Government of the Vologda Region dated October 17, 2016 No. 920. However, in the latter case, the context of using the term "green economy" is important, which gives some idea of its perception in the subject of the Russian Federation. In particular, it was noted that in the Vologda Oblast, the difficulties of transition to a "green" economy are due to the presence of "dirty" industries, underdevelopment of environmental technologies, low motivation, ecological culture of the population.

Sometimes, in official documents, the term "green economy" is not directly called, but its individual characteristics are somehow implied. For example, in the Goals and main directions of sustainable (including green) development of the Russian Federation, approved by the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dated July 14, 2021 No. 1912-r (NW RF. 2021. No. 30. St. 5814), the terms "green development", "green project" are used. This document is intended to define the key directions of the state policy of the Russian Federation for the development of investment activities in the country and attracting extra-budgetary funds to projects related to a positive impact on the environment, the development of social relations and other areas of sustainable development. Among the main directions of sustainable (including green) development, both the sphere of environmental protection (waste management, natural landscapes, rivers, reservoirs and biodiversity) and the basic sectors of the Russian economy (energy, construction, industry, transport and industrial machinery, agriculture) are reflected. Water supply, sanitation and sustainable infrastructure also formed separate areas.

The overall results of the implementation of the Concept of the creation of a geographically separate innovation and production center "InnoKam", approved by the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dated June 17, 2016 No. 1257-r (NW RF. 2016. No. 27 (Part 3). Article 4504), are associated in the said document with the implementation of a systematic policy of rational environmental management and the introduction of "green" technologies, the formation of an innovative economy, which together should lead to the transition of the region to a model of sustainable development. In the Forecast of scientific and technological development of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2030, approved by the Government of the Russian Federation (SPS "ConsultantPlus"), the "green" theme is reflected in section 5 "Rational use of natural resources". Among the opportunities that can affect the achievement of certain results are: the development of environmentally friendly transport; the development of hard-to-recover hydrocarbon resources; increased environmental protection costs; the introduction of legally binding restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions; the development of underground space in cities and rural settlements, and many other opportunities. It is noteworthy that the greening of the economy and "green growth" in the developed countries of the world are named in the same row.

In the individual program of socio-economic development of the Republic of Karelia for 2020-2024, approved by the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dated April 10, 2020 No. 973-r (NW RF. 2020. No. 16. St. 2648), the term "green economy" is used in a broad context, generally corresponding to the understanding of the "green" economy at the international level. Thus, in one row among the main directions of the advancing socio-economic development of the Republic of Karelia, in addition to such directions as effective management of territories taking into account the principles of the "green" economy, the improvement of transport and engineering infrastructure, the social direction ("development of human capital"), as well as the need repeatedly emphasized in international treaties for simultaneous economic, environmental and social development (in terms of consolidating the direction "improvement of state mechanisms for managing the economy, ecology and social sphere").

In all these and numerous other strategic planning documents, when establishing a combination of the concept of "green economy" with environmental protection, environmental safety, environmental management and environmental issues, the "green" economy is assessed as an absolutely positive phenomenon in general, exclusively in a positive sense. At the same time, significant signs of a "green" economy are often not directly indicated, its constituent elements are not named. The essence of the "green" economy in these conditions can usually be established only approximately on the basis of comparison with other, textually closely placed concepts, in a single set of directions, tasks, opportunities, etc. It can be said that this group of strategic planning documents is united by the absence of any expression of a separate, specified by specific factual data and circumstances, attitude to the very concept of building a "green" economy is in Russian conditions. The "green" economy in this category of strategic planning documents is a phenomenon that, as a rule, does not require a separate substantive understanding, it is rather an undoubted landmark, a milestone in state development.

However, there is another group of strategic planning documents, where the use of the concept of "green economy" is accompanied by an assessment of the phenomenon designated by it, is associated with its application to the objective circumstances and conditions of the Russian economy, the state of the social sphere, the quality of the environment in specific territories. In this group, in turn, characteristic contexts of mentioning the "green" economy are formed, and they are not always complimentary in relation to it.

In the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation approved by the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated July 2, 2021 No. 400 (SZ RF. 2021. No. 27 (Part II). 5351), the term "green economy" is used only once. Moreover, the epithets "green" and "low-carbon" are applied to the economy at the same time, which in itself raises questions: is there an increase in the characteristics of the same described economy with such an exposition, or are different types of economy meant. But more than that, the combination of two theses in one paragraph (paragraph 80) becomes noteworthy when mentioning the "green" economy: firstly, the development of the "green" and low-carbon economy is highlighted in the said Strategy as the main issue on the international agenda; secondly, at the same time it is argued that the increasing competition for access to natural resources resources are one of the factors of increasing international tension and the emergence of conflicts between States. The very combination of two statements in one point of the Strategy carries an important semantic load, but the accents were not placed more clearly here.

In the Doctrine of Energy Security of the Russian Federation, approved by the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated May 13, 2019 No. 216 (NW RF. 2019. No. 20. St. 2421), the assessment of the role of the concept of "green" economy for the Russian energy sector is more detailed. It is given in section II, which lists the challenges, threats to energy security and risks in the field of energy security. At the same time, according to paragraph 4 of the Doctrine, the threat to energy security is understood as a set of conditions and factors that create the possibility of damaging the energy sector of the Russian Federation, while the challenge to energy security is a set of conditions and factors that create new incentives for the development of global energy or new directions of its development, but also can lead to a threat to energy security. A number of foreign economic challenges reflect such factors (which are simultaneously a consequence of the implementation of the concept of a "green" economy) as a slowdown in the growth of global demand for energy resources and a change in its structure, including due to the substitution of petroleum products with other types of energy resources, the development of energy conservation and energy efficiency, as well as an increase in the share of renewable energy sources in the global fuel and energy balance (item 8). An increase in international efforts to implement climate policy and accelerate the transition to a "green" economy is identified as a foreign policy challenge to energy security. In other words, in this presentation, certain areas related to the development of the "green" economy in relation to the Russian energy sector acquire both quite positive (as a task, an impulse for development) and somewhat alarming (as a kind of potential danger) characteristics.

The State Program of the Russian Federation "Development of Energy", approved by the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 321 dated April 15, 2014 (SZ RF. 2014. No. 18 (Part III). St. 2167), repeats the Doctrine of Energy Security of the Russian Federation in terms of the designation of the accelerated movement towards a "green" economy by the challenge.

The same wording ("increasing international efforts to implement climate policy and accelerated transition to a "green" economy") is used to designate a new challenge requiring timely response in the State Program of the Russian Federation "Development of the Nuclear Energy Industry", approved by the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dated June 2, 2014 No. 506-12 (NW RF. 2014. No. 24. St. 3092). This challenge in the above-mentioned State Program is considered in combination with increased public attention to the operation of nuclear energy facilities. The existence of such a challenge is associated with the implementation of further improvement of efficiency and transparency in matters of resource and energy conservation, waste disposal, development of carbon-free power generation technologies, ensuring nuclear and radiation safety, reducing harmful effects on the environment.

The Strategy of Economic Security of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2030, approved by the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated May 13, 2017 No. 208 (SZ RF. 2017. No. 20. St. 2902), changes in the structure of global demand for energy resources and the structure of their consumption, the development of energy-saving technologies and the reduction of material consumption, as well as the development of "green" technologies are simultaneously attributed to the main challenges and threats to economic security (item 12). At the same time, a threat to economic security is understood as a set of conditions and factors that create a direct or indirect possibility of harming the national interests of the Russian Federation in the economic sphere; economic security challenges are a set of factors that, under certain conditions, can lead to a threat to economic security (clause 7 of the Economic Security Strategy of the Russian Federation).

According to the Strategy of Socio-economic Development of the Vladimir Region until 2030, approved by Decree No. 10 of the Governor of the Vladimir Region dated June 2, 2009, the formation of a "green" economy in developed countries is identified among the threats to the regional economy. In particular, these processes are connected in the regional strategy with the potential possibility of transferring harmful industries to the territory of the region.

The situation should be understood from the position of the need to legally consolidate priorities for the development of the country, from its existing realities. Russia, as you know, is a country with a welldeveloped traditional energy sector, in the total volume of which the least environmental risks are associated with hydropower [11, pp. 161-176]. Measures to protect the environment from negative impacts in these conditions have been worked out for a long time, enshrined in legislation.

At the same time, the development of the use of renewable energy sources as one of the attributes of the "green" economy that are almost certainly perceived by the scientific community does not mean the exclusion of environmental risks and harm to the environment. The negative impact in this case takes on different forms [12, 13], and possibly passes into the category of less studied, and responding to it due to a certain inertia of legal regulation and management, objective conditions of cognition and the need to acquire certain experience will require at least additional study, resources and time.

In the process of forcing the implementation of the ideas of the "green" economy, it is important already at the stage of strategic planning to have ready answers to questions about the ratio of the "pros" and "cons" of new activities. Why, for example, wind turbines, whose multi-meter blades (from 25 to 50 m long and up to 1000 kg each [12, p. 175]) quite often require replacement and at the same time require the use of complex recycling processes, are considered more loyal to the environment than traditional hydroelectric power plants? In the same row is the problem of recycling lithium batteries used in electric vehicles [14], accompanying the extraction of lithium for them with chemical and noise pollution, destruction of landscapes, high water consumption, etc. (URL: https://hotgeo.ru/society/59587 ?ysclid=lc92qpjlnq296262893; https://fin-accounting.ru/financial-news/2021/lithium-mining-white-oil-electric-vehicles?ysclid=lc92mx009x932189790).

It is no coincidence against this background that the RAS Presidium addresses the problem of positive positioning of nuclear and hydropower in foreign scientific circles (Resolution of the RAS Presidium of 23.09.2021 N 145 "Low-carbon development for Russia" // URL: https://www.ras.ru/presidium/documents/directions.aspx?page=1 ). In particular, the RAS Presidium stressed the need to work towards the recognition by the international community of nuclear and hydropower as elements of a "green" economy.

In fact, according to a number of indicators, these types of energy fully correspond to the very essence of the "green" economy, but do not fit into it according to the accepted concept. For the same reasons, it is obvious that the Energy Security Doctrine of the Russian Federation includes a statement that Russia considers it unacceptable to consider climate change and environmental protection issues from a biased point of view and deliberately ignoring such aspects of sustainable development as the development of clean hydrocarbon energy technologies (paragraph 10). It is also appropriate to emphasize here that when the Paris Agreement was adopted by the Russian Federation, three reservations were made, one of which is related to the unacceptability of using this Agreement and its mechanisms as a tool for creating barriers to the sustainable socio-economic development of the Parties to the Convention (see: Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 1228 of September 21, 2019 // SZ RF. 2019. No. 39. St. 5430).

Thus, the fulfillment of international obligations, including those related to the need to promote the ideas of a "green" economy, in essence, leaves the States parties to specific agreements a wide space to set their own priorities and identify tools to achieve common goals. Such approaches should be clearly understood when implementing Russian state policy and formulated, including by defining the "green" economy as a legal concept, defining its attributes and elements that are significant and necessary in Russian conditions. In this sense, the questions of what constitutes a "green" economy, which specific areas and activities constitute not just an economy, but a "green" economy, are lawmaking issues. At the same time, the strategic planning documents have already partially approached the solution of this problem, placing some emphasis on the characteristics of the concept of a "green" economy when planning and forecasting the development of the economy and social sphere of the country.

A comprehensive and in-depth analysis should precede the use of the term "green economy" in legal acts, including in strategic planning documents, excluding its routine use and giving it a purely superficial, formal meaning. The idea of a "green" economy should not be treated, on the one hand, as a kind of rigid construction, a kind of indisputable dogma (this is precisely not provided for by international documents), but, on the other hand, it seems unreasonable and lightweight to perceive it as an unconditional universal means, equally acceptable to any state, as a formal stamp, with the use of which all environmental, economic and social problems are solved by themselves. We believe that it is more appropriate to see the "green" economy as a long way to find the optimal model for the ratio of sometimes directly opposite requests of humanity, through inevitable trials, mistakes, luck and discoveries. And these approaches, taking into account the framework and guidelines established at the international level, should find their place both in the traditional system of regulatory legal acts of the Russian Federation and in various strategic planning documents.