Environmental issues are receiving increasing attention in the Republic of Belarus: state programs are being implemented, legislation is being improved, basic documents in the field of environmental protection and rational nature management are being developed. Therefore, it is natural that the development of mutually beneficial cooperation with foreign countries and international organizations is of great importance for us.
The geography of international cooperation in the environmental field is wide and covers a large number of countries and regions.
The Republic of Belarus is an active participant of multilateral international agreements (conventions), which are 14 global and 10 European international environmental conventions and protocols. Within the framework of these documents, all the obligations assumed by the country are fulfilled. In addition, they are a platform for multilateral cooperation for:
• promoting national initiatives and projects;
• developing the legislative framework;
• ensuring the attraction of financial resources to the country and effective use of donor funds, including training and education of specialists.
The country's participation in international cooperation in the field of environmental protection and rational use of natural resources not only improves the country's image on the international arena, but also enables the promotion of Belarusian initiatives to the international level, while ensuring the involvement of national experts for their implementation.
Conducting international (regional) seminars and conferences in the Republic of Belarus by convention secretariats and international organizations in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Economy has become an established practice.
The analysis of the efficiency of Belarusian participation in conventions and international organizations shows that the amount of technical assistance involved exceeds the funds spent on payment of contributions. Annually, within the framework of international technical assistance, about $5 million is provided to the country to solve environmental problems.
The main areas of cooperation within the framework of provided technical assistance are issues of biodiversity conservation and sustainable functioning of the protected wetland system in the Belarusian Polesie, handling of persistent organic pollutants, prevention of environmental pollution by oil products, development of pollutant release and transfer registry, water resources management, including resources of the Neman River Basin and the implementation of the Strategic Action Program for the Dnieper Basin and evaluation of ecological condition of lake ecosystems, as well as provision of a permanent exchange of radar data with partner countries of the Baltic Sea region, implementation of comprehensive measures to reduce agricultural pollution sources in the region and others.
Another point to be made here is that participation in international processes in the field of environmental protection allows access to the latest environmental technologies and practices, to adopt the experience of leading countries in their implementation, and this in turn will contribute to a more successful solution of environmental problems in the Republic of Belarus.
The National Strategy for Sustainable Social and Economic Development of Belarus till 2030, developed jointly with the Ministry of Economy, approved by the Government in February 2015, aims at implementing the principles of the "green economy" in practice.
Creation of conditions for "green" development is considered by the Ministry of Economy to be the most important tool for attracting foreign investments.
Currently, a number of projects are being implemented in the country, such as:
"Forestry Development of the Republic of Belarus" implemented by means of the World Bank loan ($ 40.7 million) and the related grant provided by the Global Environment Facility ($ 2.7 million).
"Supporting the transition to a green economy in the Republic of Belarus" funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme. The total budget of the project is 5 million euro. The project was launched in 2015.
The Republic of Belarus is a participant of the "Greening Economies in the European Union's Eastern Neighbourhood" (EaP GREEN) programme (the Belarusian coordinators are the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Natural Resources), implemented jointly by UNECE, OECD, UNEP and UNIDO.
The problems of “green” development, raised within the EaP GREEN programme, are a good platform for inter-country dialogue in the field of economy and environmental protection, since they do not require political decisions (for example, joining the OECD), but are in the trend of international communication and development.
Despite the fact that the registration of the above-mentioned program was not carried out in the Republic of Belarus in accordance with the established procedure, our country is a member of its Steering Committee and participates in a number of events, and the 3rd EaP GREEN Steering Committee meeting was held in Minsk in 2014.
The 4th meeting of the EaP GREEN Steering Committee (2015) was held in Chisinau, within which the Project work plan for 2015-2016 of the "Greening Economies in the European Union's Eastern Neighbourhood" programme was specified.
Within the framework of the above-mentioned plan, in October 2015, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) together with the Department of Entrepreneurship of the Ministry of Economy held a national seminar "Greening of small and medium-sized enterprises in the Republic of Belarus" in Minsk.
Further information on this matter can be found on the following Internet pages:
"Forestry Development of the Republic of Belarus" (http://www.mlh.by/ru/OVOS/doc.html)