ARCHIVE MATERIAL: Barents Environmental Hot Spots


Barents Environmental Hot Spots are major polluters and issues, which impose significant environmental hazards to surrounding communities and nature. They are located in the Russian part of the Barents region: Arkhangelsk and Murmansk Regions, Nenets Autonomous Region, and the Republics of Karelia and Komi. Experts have foreseen potential for investment projects in these objects.

Barents Environment Ministers Meeting, Luleå, Sweden, February 2020.
Photo: Gunilla Strömberg/Government Offices of Sweden

The Barents Environmental Hot Spot List from 2003 consists of 42 hot spots, representing various sectors, such as pulp and paper, mining and metallurgy, heat and power, water and wastewater, along with other polluted sites. It was initially defined in the report of the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (Nefco) in collaboration with the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). In 2005, Environment Ministers of the four Barents countries - Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden - defined the mutual goal on launching investment projects in all of the 42 Barents Environmental Hot Spots, aiming for their elimination. Later on in 2010, a special exclusion procedure of the Environmental Hot Spots was presented to the Ministers of Environment. The temporary Subgroup on Hot Spots Exclusion was established under the BEAC Working Group on Environment to facilitate the process.

Since 2010, many joint projects have been implemented to tackle environmental challenges at the hot spots. Investments come from internal financial resources of the hot spots' owners and different funding mechanisms - such as Barents Hot Spot Facility (BHSF), Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (Nefco), Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) and others. These projects improve water supply and sewage systems of towns and villages, enhance waste management, promote energy saving and reduce airborne emissions. Cooperation enables to achieve significant environmental improvements at many of the hot spots and lead to exclusion of hot spots from the Barents list. To date, 12 full hot spots and 3 partial ones have been eliminated, and the work on environmental progress at other sites is being continued (27 full hot spots and 3 partial ones remain on the list).

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Environmental Hot Spots excluded from the Barents List

Over the past years, the priority of cooperation was to align the work on Barents Environmental Hot Spots with the implementation of the Russian legislation on permit granting based on Best Available Techniques (BAT). The legislation aims at introducing a new system of state regulation on environmentally hazardous industries. The legislation requires industries to achieve specified conditions and to develop and implement action plans. In addition, since 2016 the design and implementation of Support Activities have strengthened the progress made on the environmental hot spots. The aim of so-called supporting activities is to use the collective expertise and experience of the Nordic countries and Russia to support the hot spots on taking further steps towards exclusion, strengthen environmental action and support the implementation of the Russian legislation on BAT.

The final decision on exclusion of the hot spots is taken at the meetings of the Barents Environmental Ministers. The meeting takes place every other year and aims for summarizing of results of the Chairmanship within the BEAC Working Group on Environment. Significant progress in pulp and paper industry and wastewater treatment in the Arkhangelsk Region and the Republics of Karelia and Komi was highlighted by the Ministers during the recent Ministerial Meeting in Luleå in February 2020. Due to the existing successful cooperation in the Barents region, four hot spots were excluded from the Barents Environmental Hot Spots list.

Presentation of Barents Environmental Hot Spots

Find more about Hot Spots exclusion procedure and related activities, 2021