Institute for Sustainable Innovation
Georgy Fomenko
Environmental Management
A Socio-Cultural Methodology
Understanding the cultural underpinnings of institutional change
Environmental Management: A Socio-Cultural Methodology.

by Georgy Fomenko.

© 2004, 2017 by Georgy Fomenko. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any written, electronic, recording, or photocopying without written permission of the publisher or author. The exception would be in the case of brief quotations embodied in the critical articles or reviews and pages where permission is specifically granted by the publisher or author.

Although every precaution has been taken to verify the accuracy of the information contained herein, the author and publisher assume no responsibility for any errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for damages that may result from the use of information contained within.

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Publisher: Institute for Sustainable Innovation, Costa Rica

ISBN: 978-0-9985796-0-3


Environmental Management: Socio-Cultural Methodology was written in 2004 and is now published in English with few changes. Although over a decade has passed since the book first appeared in Russian, its theme is surely now even more relevant than before. The deepening of religious conflicts in the Middle East, Brexit in the UK, and other recent international events (many of them unexpected), have been viewed by many a symptoms of a cultural revolt. In this context, an English translation of a book with such a title should need no special justification, since the significance of “socio-cultural adjustment” of institutional systems is greater than ever before as societies worldwide adapt to the new global order. The success of environmental management today depends on due regard for the socio-cultural foundations of each society and on extending the range of acceptable solutions for resource managers in specific institutional contexts. What matters is that new mechanisms in the environmental sphere should be structured on a socio-cultural basis and that universal institutions, as a risk-reflex to global ecological threats, should be adjusted to the conditions of the territories where they are implemented.

This approach to environmental management is well motivated. Emphasis on socio-cultural aspects has become the main impetus of the new “glocalization,” which has importance for the environmental sphere. Modern civilization is not teaching people to be at peace with nature. The explosion of religious or nationalistic fanaticism in many parts of our Planet in the 21st century seems intertwined with the desire of people to grab all they can from nature. History is full of instances when cultural traditions have had negative, as well as positive impacts, including the oppression of people and degradation of the natural environment. New technologies or ideas can destroy culture as well as create it.

In the preface to the Russian edition of this book, written over a decade ago, I explained that the role of culture in environmental management is growing constantly, despite the ongoing process of economic globalization, which, on the contrary, tends towards the standardization of environmental regulation. This reflects the fact that environmental institutions are based on the prevailing system of values and views inherent in the culture of each society. At the same time, the culture of interaction between society and nature is constantly evolving and improving. It is our human heritage. This premise is the foundation of our interdisciplinary approach, which has been tested over the last decade by the exacting measure of real practice.

We are living in a time of turbulent technological change. A huge number of critical technologies with global impact are being introduced on a massive scale and their combined impact on the sustainability of territorial development is extremely hard to forecast. Fields experiencing radical innovation include 3D printing, digital logistics, waste management, the processing industry, knowledge and communications, biotechnologies, etc.

New developments in any key technology must entail changes to the institutional space and this has major implications for environmental work. The current transition to a new technological order exacerbates sociocultural contradictions, generating social conflicts in many countries, which are often related to the environment. The urgency of avoiding negative scenarios for human development, by applying the concept of sustainability, has inspired a new awareness of the importance of global ecological restrictions, a search for shared development goals and their disaggregation at different levels of territorial organization with due account for the broadly conceived geographical specifics of each territory. This is to say that we are now witnessing ever greater interest in a regulatory approach to economic management. However limited and non-scientific such an approach may appear to be, it allows us to apply new forms of rationality (philosophical, religious, etc.) to the analysis of development issues, supplementing the scientific rationality, which is characteristic of positivist approaches.

Changes in the structure, culture and practice of social systems inevitably lags behind the transition to the new economy, delaying institutional changes in many countries. In this context, many environmental mechanisms become inefficient. They may even impede innovative green growth and stand in need of reassessment.

The socio-cultural methodology, which is presented in this book, enables vital theoretical and practical conclusions to be drawn, which are of great importance for environmental management today.

There are good methodological grounds for a new assessment of the role and significance of socio-cultural peculiarities of territories in environmental management. Greater attention to a humane approach in these issues entails greater importance for institutional analysis of environmental activities and focuses attention on the broadly conceived geographical features of territories and the self-development of living systems in the society-nature nexus. Such approaches are based on the homo responsabilis model, which compensates the partial rationality of human behavior by value-oriented guidelines based on the urgency of preventing environmental disaster. This model, combining the approaches of neo-institutionalism and socioeconomics, enables proper study of the environmental incentives of individuals and local communities. Its focus on protecting the interests of both present and future generations offers an efficient tool for analyzing environmental institutional changes.

The socio-cultural methodology of environmental management starts from the fact that environmental management today is characterized by largescale importation of environmental institutions. It is primarily based on the experience of developed economies and it assesses the efficacy of such imports with reference to specific territories.

The experience of various countries shows that importation of environmental institutions to their socio-cultural conditions is bound to entail conflicts. The prevention and mitigation of such conflicts is a separate function of environmental management. I have therefore developed and substantiated a number of methods of instrumental regulation, proposed an indicator for ecological compatibility of institutional territorial matrices and an efficiency index for institutional change. This toolbox can help to improve environmental management both at territorial level and at the interface between the environment and business.

The team currently engaged in developing a socio-cultural methodology of environmental management is a close-knit group of scholars. The team has carried out in-depth studies of environmental indicators and environmental economic accounting systems, including the assessment of scenarios for their adaptation to specific human needs. These studies have been described in a number of publications 1, and our socio-cultural methods of environmental management have been much used in project engineering, consultancy and training by the Russian company, Resources and Consulting Group.

I hope that this book will be useful to all who deal with issues of sustainable development and environment conservation, including laymen. I trust that it will motivate and inspire professionals, particularly those taking part in international projects where success depends to a great extent on attention to the cultural context of institutional transition.

Georgy Fomenko
Yaroslavl, Russia, 2016


At the start of the 21st century, humankind is increasingly aware of the global character of many processes that are leading to the degradation and destruction of the natural environment and to the depletion of the Planet’s species diversity. These phenomena are ever more apparent, especially in developing and transition economies, despite some optimistic forecasts and estimates that attempt to play down the gravity of the situation. Globalization, while bringing indisputable benefits to countries and peoples through the expansion of markets and free movement of ideas and capital, also creates new development challenges. Problems caused by the growing inequality of wealth distribution and instability of the financial system, and concerns over loss of cultural traditions and social consent are growing more acute. As more regions are brought to the brink of poverty, individuals seek to improve their own well-being at any cost, including the depletion of natural resources and reduction of environmental expenditures, posing serious risks for future generations.

Globalization has been accompanied by growing unification of environmental regulation tools (such as the ISO 14000 standards, Forest Certification, etc.). But, at the same time, increasing polarization and differentiation of the economic space are multiplying environmental problems and significantly changing the priorities of environmental management at all levels of territorial organization. One effect of the largely irreversible trend toward unification is to reduce, in the short term, the efficiency of many earlier mechanisms for the protection of the environment. Their replacement by standardized mechanisms, borrowed, as a rule, from the experience of more developed economies, may exacerbate social conflicts and even hinder positive change. The unification of laws, standards and rules in accordance with the conditions of the global economy, but taking no account of cultural traditions, often leads to the degradation of local communities, ending of shared access to natural resources, disappearance of specially protected natural areas, and more rapid depletion of natural resources at the local level. Territories with a culture of traditional environmental management suffer worst of all.

As a result, vertically integrated nature conservation systems fail to regulate the rapidly changing environmental situation efficiently, and this is bound to make socio-cultural communities anxious about their future. The context of globalization lends special urgency to making environmental management more flexible and ensuring its responsiveness to situations in specific areas. Several countries have tried to address this immensely complex task by the intensification of technocratic, administrative, non-market regulation, and there is a tendency to treat the socio-cultural peculiarities of territories and settlements as inessential compared with the priority of ensuring the environmental security of whole countries in the new conditions. Such an approach denies the importance of civil society institutions for environmental work; grassroots initiatives are viewed as “hindering” unified regulation, since they undermine the pleasing appearance of uniformity and monolithic strength in environmental policy. In fact, such uniformity and strength is often illusory and this approach can lead to the escalation of institutional conflicts (particularly at local level), growth of transaction costs in environmental programs and, ultimately, to the alienation of society from government efforts in the environmental sphere.

Examples abound where the involvement of ordinary people in environmental work, supplementing a “top down” with a “bottom up” approach, has proved the best way to build an efficient system of environmental management in the context of globalization, when any change in national legislation makes it necessary to find a new institutional balance at all levels of territorial organization through compromise between the interests of natural resource users, government and civil society. If any of the parties in this triangle is dominant, the balance of interests will be skewed. If, for instance, the interests of corporate giants are preferred, while civil society institutions are of little political significance, the most probable outcome will be loud environmental rhetoric, masking favoritism on the part of government towards those resource users, which have the greatest lobbying power. It is also likely that environmental mechanisms will be hijacked as a pretext for grabbing market share.

Failure to nurture community participation in environmental work cannot be offset by unification of the tools of regulation, as the inevitable result will be the growth of environmental costs, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses, while serious environmental issues requiring substantial expenditure and political will not be addressed until the situation becomes catastrophic. When civil society institutions are powerless, individual arrangements between business and public officials play the major role. This reduces the incentives for business to apply best environmental practice, to be economical in the use of resources and to apply conservation technologies. The size of markets for environmental products and services is reduced, and the best qualified specialists leave the sector. Growing alienation of the general public from government and perception of environmental requirements as obstacles to well-being promote destructive behavior with respect to easily accessible natural resources (uncontrolled logging, poaching, etc.). A large part of the population refuse to assume collective responsibility for protecting public interests. Environmental doctrines and laws appear to have no contact with the facts of everyday life for ordinary people. The experience of recent decades has shown that efficient environmental management is impossible without the reinforcement of people’s motives to observe certain standards of behavior, particularly at the level of local communities, which are most vulnerable to pollution and environmental degradation. So the context of an increasingly globalized world makes the humanization of environmental management more important than ever before.

All of these points are relevant for today’s Russia, which has declared its commitment to integration with the global economy. The place it will occupy in that economy does not depend only on its rate of growth, but also and to a large degree on the quality of such growth. The issue of quality is of special concern today, because Russia has tended increasingly towards “dirty” growth, where investments are directed primarily to the nature-intensive and environmentally harmful industries. It is an undeniable fact that the dismantling of Soviet management mechanisms and establishment of new ones, in a context of insufficient environmental lobbying by civil society, have greatly reduced the efficiency of environmental work. Paradoxically, the problem has been exacerbated by the attempts of many professionals to remedy the situation by applying “tried and tested” Soviet approaches to environmental problems. These attempts, based on the old-fashioned methods of the command economy, could not be effective in the new context, and they have tended to block positive institutional changes by preserving the old patterns of socio-economic relations.

The present book does not claim to describe the one and only correct way of overcoming the present crisis in environmental management in Russia. A full recipe for doing that cannot be offered at present, since most environmental management issues are rooted in the systemic crisis of Russian society, which has not yet gone beyond a stage where the choice of development scenarios depends largely on chance events. Nevertheless, we can already predict with confidence the main vector of change in environmental management, which is required. Reforms must be based on the fact that Russia will have to coexist in coming decades with economies dominated by post-industrial trends, and must itself undergo a complex transition from industrial to post-industrial society. The bleak alternative is the country’s isolation from the global economy and the establishment of its lag to developed economies as a permanent fact.

Although the outlines of the post-industrial civilization are as yet barely discernible, we can already state that its emergence and development is directly related to the present, unprecedented globalization of the economic and information sectors and, in particular, to the growing role of the human factor, as science and culture become the principal productive force 2 . Hence the importance of a new, critical, review of the foundations of environmental management and the design of new approaches that can include individuals in environmental work by boosting their initiative and creativity. This requires a new look at the basic methodology of environmental management, including clarification of research techniques from the standpoint of “responsible behavior”. We also need to define the interaction, in various territorial institutional matrixes, between unified environmental institutions (i.e. those that operate in most countries) and institutions, both formal and informal, that are socio-culturally determined. It is impossible to motivate individuals to engage in collective actions for socially meaningful environmental goals unless we take account of the socio-cultural aspects of development.

The new methodology focuses on behavioral preferences of individuals in respect of environmental management, preferences that are, to a large extent, socio-culturally determined. Efficient mechanisms of environmental policy for different geographical conditions can only be developed through understanding of the conscious and unconscious aspirations of people. In this approach, institutionalizing the socio-cultural characteristics of territories become the key to successful environmental work. Emphasis is placed on ethical values that are specific to each individual culture regarding the society-nature relationship, on identifying the socio-cultural dominant (the “development pivot”) of local territories, and on humanizing the methods used to evaluate natural resources and ecosystem services. This necessarily entails a change of approach to local environmental planning. It becomes critically important to use a socio-cultural methodology in environmental work in territories that retain features of traditional nature management and where the methods of the global economy encounter resistance because they conflict with customary standards of behavior.

A socio-cultural methodology uses a special range of tools to prevent conflicts between the imported, unified environmental institutions typical of the world economy and the socio-culturally determined institutions that have emerged during the evolution of traditional, long-standing relationships between man and nature. Such an approach depends on an interdisciplinary synthesis using the methodological principles of social, economic and political geography, management theory, ethnology, sociology, macro and micro-economy, and political and cultural studies. The practical recommendations, presented in the book, for taking proper account of the socio-cultural features of territories in the process of environmental management could not have been formulated without this interdisciplinary context.

I have received invaluable help in work on this book from my wife Marina Fomenko, who shouldered much of the burden in preparing the book for publication. Many valuable comments on the draft were offered by such esteemed colleagues as Genrietta Privalovskaya, Alexander Luty, Nikolai Lukianchikov, Yuliy Lipets, Luisa Nochevkina, Valery Pularkin, Sergey Bobylev, and Renat Perelet. The author thanks everybody who helped him in his work on the book, and especially Lev Kniazkov, Konstantin Loshadkin, Anastasia Mikhailova, and Eduard Goge.


The Theoretical Justification for a Socio-Cultural Approach to Environmental Management

Any environmental management model is the outcome of economic, social and cultural development. Cultural development is particularly important because, whatever the motives of human activity, whether subconscious or apparent, they must ultimately emerge in culture, which safeguards, translates and generates the programs of human activity, behavior and communication that constitute socio-historical experience. In the context of environmental management, culture determines the system of interrelated norms and rules, which form the basis of professional and day-to-day practices. The culture of the relationship between society and nature evolves continuously to become mankind’s heritage. History is full of examples where cultural traditions have had both positive and negative effects, the latter leading to the oppression of people and degradation of the natural environment, while the emergence of new technologies or ideas can induce either the collapse or revival of culture. Nevertheless, only when people become aware of their cultural identity can they assume common responsibility for their own destiny.

Sadly, today’s management practice consistently undervalues the socio-cultural premises of environmental work, as is apparent from analysis of environmental planning practice (Green Planners, etc.), reviews of national environmental strategies in various countries conducted by the World Bank, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, International Institute for Environment and Development, etc. One major reason for this is the unprecedented assertion of individualism in today’s world and disintegration of many (non-western) cultures that had their own traditions of natural resource management. Such undervaluation of socio-cultural foundations has very serious consequences. It reduces the efficiency of environment protection, increases the costs of environmental programs, damages biodiversity, and threatens rare species of flora and fauna. The environmental management systems imported from developed western nations may turn out to be inefficient in other regions because they fail, as a rule, to take account of the values and traditional methods of environmental regulation practiced by various social groups in those regions.

To divorce environmental management from the economic and socio-cultural aspects of territorial development is to treat people as a passive material, which leads to the loss of human freedom and other disastrous consequences. So environmental management must not be purely technocratic; the decision-making process should be of a political nature and based on compromise between the interests of various individuals and social groups. For instance, it is unrealistic to expect law-abiding and environmentally aware behavior from people in the use of shared resources (hunting, fishing, treatment of greens spaces in cities, etc.) unless the problems of poverty and unemployment are addressed. So environmental management can only be efficient if the development of territories is tackled in a comprehensive way, integrating its various dimensions (economic, ecological, social and cultural) into a single system and ensuring their interaction at different levels of territorial organization3.

The essential prerequisite for any type of environmental management is that people should recognize the need to put limits on their activities. We therefore have to try and understand why it is that some people, even though they are aware of the real possibility of environmental catastrophe and the material damage caused to the environment by their actions (or inaction), still persist in aggravating the situation and putting future generations at risk, while other people care for the environment, even to the detriment of their economic interests. We also need to clarify the role of environmental ethics in environmental management and ways of making such ethics more influential. Human behavior can be understood in terms of homo economicus, psychological and geographical determinism, or an appeal to external factors (historical necessity); many different factors have been studied that cause people to behave in a certain way (including Maslow’s attempt to build a hierarchy of needs explaining human motivation). Each concept is based on a number of facts and historical experience, but none of them gives an exhaustive explanation of what motivates human activity in respect of the environment. Hence the importance of identifying and justifying a human behavior model, which would be most adequate to the investigation of environmental activities, and of specifying the relevant conceptual categories and basic parameters in the institutional domain.

How the Threat of Environmental Disaster Changes Our View of the World

The turn of the third millennium is characterized by growing recognition of the global nature of environmental issues, the potential for environmental crises (both regional and global) and mankind’s responsibility for such scenarios. Recognition that environmental disaster is a real threat and that we cannot fend off the threat by technological and economical measures alone has made people revisit many earlier theories of the relationship between society and nature. Various 20th century thinkers and philosophers (O. Spengler, E. Fromm, K. Jaspers, V. Vernadsky and others) have stressed that the current development vector cannot go on unchanged, and the late 20th century saw the emergence of philosophical thinking about the environmental crisis as a distinct branch of thought. According to Vittorio Hösle, “… the philosophy of environmental crisis should determine the place of this [environmental – G.F.] threat within the framework of the philosophy of history of human culture” [297, p. 6]. The fundamental novelty of the present stage of humanity’s development is the ever increasing dominance of economics and technology. The unprecedented scale of man-made impact on nature has created a threat to the continued existence of both man and nature. Therefore, as Hans Lenk states, “ … never before has such great responsibility been imposed on man due to the huge power he possesses – increased exponentially by machinery – over other people, his environment and every living being on the Earth” [122, p. 372-392].

The philosophy of the environmental crisis has a practical as well as a theoretical aspect, and the former is particularly significant for environmental management. A special role is played here by the writings of Hans Jonas, a pupil of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, who emphasizes the idea of knowledge as power and authority; ever since the 18th century, knowledge has exercised tremendous impact on the social, political and technological activities of man. It is highly important that Jonas considers not only ethical, but also political and philosophical issues, since environmental problems cannot be solved by the maxims of personal ethics alone, and consequences for environmental policy and for environmental management and administration are inevitable. Jonas makes the issue of human responsibility a focus of research, asserting that the notion of “homo sapiens” (“reasonable human being”) should be substituted by that of “homo responsabilis” (“responsible human being”), and that traditional ethical systems should be substituted by an ethics of responsibility. The imperative corresponding to the new types of human action and addressed to the new actors must, according to Jonas, be “Act so that the effects of your action are compatible with the permanence of human life” [398, p. 11]. This imperative is in tune with the earlier views of the American philosopher Georg Trumbull Ladd who suggested that responsibility should be considered the essential feature of human beings [402].

Increase of the scale and significance of management impacts, the global scope of decisions that are taken, people’s awareness of the temporality and irreversible character of social processes and of the non-renewable character of many natural resources not only require greater environmental responsibility for our actions but also call for a critical analysis of the methodology of environmental management in order to define the limits and the potential for cognition of society-nature systems and for purposeful impact on these systems. Let us consider some changes in generally held points of view, which are of most import for the study of environmental management.


Any human practice, and particularly that relating to the environment, focuses on the transition from the past to the future that appears reasonable from the standpoint of people making decisions. So a vision of the goals of environmental policy and the acceptable means of achieving them does not appear all by itself, but as a specific reflection of how the future is seen. The differing world views of various nations and socio-cultural groups, and analysis of the possible environmental consequences of different scenarios show how broad the spectrum of possible futures actually is in respect of environmental management. The dominant idea in Russia for the greater part of the 20th century was of a common happiness and of deterministic, forward movement towards it. There were no discussions of a spectrum of possible futures, so no studies relevant to such a multiplicity were carried out. Hence the special importance today of recognizing and studying the multiplicity of possible futures, based on due consideration for the world views of different nations and socio-cultural groups.

Possible futures are determined by a synthesis of socio-cultural traditions and of the trends initiated by modernization. A highly interesting typology of possible futures was suggested by Rüdiger Lutz [409] in 1988 (Table 1.1). A brief look at the ideological start-points identified by the author is sufficient to make clear the enormous differences between preferred development goals and the means of their achievement, and between the various supporting and opposing forces. This entails major differences between environmental priorities, understanding of what makes conservation institutions efficient, the type of information support they require, etc. Nearly all of these Lutz’s start-points have their champions in Russia. But the influence of each of them in specific territories with their own socio-cultural peculiarities will vary greatly and will change over time.

When we try to forecast the complex process of development of a specific society and its environmental management system, alternative future scenarios are inevitable, even if the main trends of possible change are already known. It is impossible to say which scenario will be actualized, because possibilities become reality depending on a multitude of factors, including random factors. In retrospect, one can see why a given scenario has occurred and trace its logic, but the best we can do when we look into the future is to sketch the range of possibilities and (at best) say which of them are more or less probable.

Table 1.1.
Brief Outline of Future Scenarios
Scenario 1
Scenario 2
Space Colonies
Scenario 3.
Scenario 4
Scenario 6
Scenario 7
Who? Т. Nelson, W. Norris, М. McLuhan, A. Toffler G.K. O'Neill, В. Hubbard, Т. Leary, J. von Putkammer Е. Cellenbach, E.F. Schumacher, A. Lovins P. Ehrlich, R.L. Meier, J.R. Piatt P. Caddy, М. Ferguson, D. Spranger Н. Kahn, N. Machiavelli, A.J. Wiener J. Lovelock, S. Brand, D. Meadows
What? All-embracing telecommunication, computerization, communication & production systems Self-sustaining space stations in near-earth orbit Small decentralized and self-organizing eco-settlements and regions Multibillion agglomerations, “melting pots” of races and nations Religious (or spiritual) communities. Imperialization of the world economy, supremacy of the “western” system; dominance of economics, a “customer-oriented”, market system without government regulation Earth ecosystem as a self-organizing, rational way of life.
Why? Reassessment of the role of communications, democracy, online telework and total automation Reassessment of the potential for industrialization of space and unified energy saving; supremacy of production, protection of the environment Absolute priority given to eco-balance and adapting production to low-level natural systems for environment-friendly living Extrapolation of the demographic explosion, preoccupation with the mixing of nations Priority given to interiority for physical and spiritual growth Exaggerated role given to maximum professionalism and competition (Social Darwinism) Understanding the need for change in order to do justice to the interrelation of all living systems on Earth
How? Bringing existing systems into networks and global digitalization * Space flight, building space colonies; step-by-step construction of space stations Complete decentralization in building and developing environmentally-friendly forms of life and production Nurturing tolerance and mixing of different peoples instead of ghettoization Religious (spiritual) discipline and appeal to common human values Priority of economic issues, self-regulation of the “free market”, reindustrialization Global coordination of all environmental activities
Who is in favor? Computer manufacturing sector. Space industry and military-industrial complex, corporate giants Ecologists and those striving for self-sufficiency Advocates of social integration and intercultural exchange Post-materialists and new sensualists Corporate giants, banks, manufacturing, capitalist-aristocracy Proponents of the interests of humanity as a whole, currently disadvantaged nations
Who is against? Poor South, “catch-up” industrial nations. The “third” and “fourth” worlds, which would be excluded from such development Supranational corporations and those unwilling to live in poverty Supranationalists, separatists, individualists Materialists and pragmatists, who prioritize material values Adversaries of property ownership and idealists opposing any form of conflict Nationalists and specialized manufacturing industries

* “Digitalization” means the transformation of content into discrete form and its subsequent use as digital data.

Source: Lutz R. Sieben Zukunftszenarien: [Plane fur eine menschliche Zukunft. hrsg. von Rudiger Lutz. Mit Beitr. von Manon Andreas Grisebach...] Weinheim; Basel: Beltz, 1988. S. 291-300.

Recognizing the multiplicity of possible development scenarios does not make it pointless to think about the future environmental management system in Russia. As V.S. Stepin writes [233]: “the future scenarios, which we strive to identify by the analysis of development trends, are in themselves a forecast, albeit one that is multivalent. Such forecasts are used in many natural sciences as well in the social sciences. Synergetics, which studies complex, non-linear self-organizing processes and has many applications in the natural sciences, shows that the qualitative transformations of evolving systems at points of bifurcation are, as a rule, described by a certain range of possible scenarios.”

This is the stage at which Russian environmental work finds itself today and the design of an optimum reform strategy can be assisted by identifying the various possible trajectories of its further development . Acknowledging the threat of environmental disaster as real and recognizing the variety of possible futures, we can take the fact of the threat as the chief criterion for accepting or rejecting the development scenarios put forward by different socio-cultural groups and assess their utility for the common goal of survival. The reference points here are knowledge of the possible environmental consequences of different scenarios and the values and ethical attitudes that guard against reckless and dangerous actions.


Overall revision of our “world picture” is accompanied by gradual humanization of the concept of rationality. Contemporary philosophy is increasingly willing to acknowledge diversity in forms of rationality. The concept of the unity of rationalities implies that scientific, philosophical, religious and other rationalities are not alternatives but facets of unified, many-sided human reason [164]. This rules any dismissal of other forms of rationality, which are characteristic of other civilizations or other ages. For example, the idea of transformation of the world and the subordination of nature to man has been dominant in western culture until today. But traditional communities have understood and judged the relationship of people with the surrounding world in a completely different way. The emphasis for them has been on conservatism in action and slow rates of evolution, placing limitations on the transformational activities of people.

The principle of transforming action is opposed by the principle of ancient Chinese culture, “Wu wei”, which suggests non-interference in natural processes [233]. Such a principle played an important regulatory role in traditional farming cultures, which strove to adapt to the environmental conditions that determined the success of farming. They tried to intuit the rhythm of changes in the weather, accumulated the experience of observing their surroundings and the life of plants over many centuries. A well-known Chinese parable ridicules the farmer who was impatient at the slow growth of his crops and, trying to accelerate the process, pulled the plants by the tips until he plucked them out of the soil4. Models of behavior supplementing the theory of rational action are nowhere more important than in respect of environmental management. We have to recognize a multitude of environmental rationalities characteristic of different socio-cultural communities. Only by trying to understand and acknowledge the inherent value of other national traditions without judging them from the viewpoint of western civilization can one deduce efficient ways of improving environmental management. This is particularly important at the current stage of globalization when different cultural traditions come up against one another and engage in a dialog. Different socio-cultural groups and individuals have to learn how to conduct such a dialog without giving absolute priority to their own values and cultures. New methods of socialization have to be found, ways of educating people in the spirit of tolerance and respect for the achievements of different cultures. Interaction between cultures is not only a matter of mutual understanding and respect, but also gives new meanings to human life.

Hence the urgency of studying and summarizing the phenomena of environment use rooted in particular locations: people cannot be mobilized for environmental activities, which contradict their own traditions. Before applying new tools of environmental regulation, we have to understand how nature protection operated for centuries in a specific location and how the people there imagine their future today. Such studies are most efficient if nomological, prescriptive and hermeneutic approaches supplement each other, i.e. when social institutions that set criteria and provide technologies for the rational solution of environmental problems enter into a human communication with people’s traditions, ideals and values. The cultural phenomena of local development have a two-fold nature: they play a functional role, but they are also the bearers of meanings and contents. This is what enables the natural sciences and humanities to complement one another in a revised approach to the practice of environmental management.

Hermeneutic methods are useful for analyzing environmental management in a way that takes account of the perceptions of groups with divergent interests. Hans-Georg Gadamer defined hermeneutics as the art of mutual understanding between people, social groups, parties and regions regarding the relationship between past and present, and the recognition of the uniqueness of rationalities in different cultures [55]. For the environmental context, it is particularly important that hermeneutics understands experience as changing oneself rather than transforming and suppressing nature. It allows a new understanding of the role and significance of locations with their uniqueness and specific imagery. One should also emphasize Gadamer’s statement that the essential unity of the speaker and the listener is not achieved by force but by their connection with the essence of the matter. It is not coincidental that such a form of dialog first appeared in the democratic polis of ancient Greece. This confirms the theoretical rationale for privileging open dialog in environmental management and the advantages of the “open society”. It also suggests ways, by which the inhabitants of settlements and local territories can reach collective decisions on issues of development, including integrated environmental management. Although hermeneutics is sometimes criticized for conservatism in its attempts to revive historical traditions or even prejudices, it is helpful in formulating the mechanisms for collective decision-making and it stresses the role of discussion in the selection of environmental strategy.


Increased attention to the importance of values in environment management is a significant feature of many late 20th century studies, which appeared in response to the scale of the environmental threat. Values have a key role as guidelines and constraints when managers have to make decisions with unpredictable consequences within short timeframes, as is increasingly the case in environmental matters.

Environmental management has a special place in contemporary study of the world around us because its major systemic component (over and above its political, economic, sociological, and other aspects) is the realm of human spiritual life, the state of social and individual consciousness. V.I. Kurashov has stressed that the call to preserve nature and life on Earth cannot be convincingly justified by scientific cognition alone, without a value-based world view and religious eschatology, because it is a challenge that is closely associated with the meaning and purpose of life [114]. The ethical duty of people to preserve the environment for themselves and for future generations cannot be reasonably explained without reference to value-based notions. The current context of post-industrial development makes the efficiency of environmental work greatly dependent on such regulators as culture, traditions, ethics, ideology, mature consciousness, scientific rigor and integrity of thinking, etc. The role and significance of these regulators are growing all the time and they are changing the character of environmental management away from rigid paradigms (legal, administrative, command, financial and economical, fiscal, informational, etc.). This creates an urgent need for new mechanisms, new value-oriented goals and cultural focuses in formulating a strategy for mankind’s survival and further sustainable development at the turn of the 21st century. The search is being pursued in various spheres of human culture, from philosophy to art, science and religious cognition of the world. The object is to find new foundations for human existence, to develop new values, new points of reference in understanding the purpose of life, offering a strategy for human survival and advancement, reconsideration of attitudes towards nature and the design of new ideals for humanity.

The first thing to consider here is the completely new scientific world image, which has immediate relevance for ideas about nature and human interaction with nature. The new science is no longer consistent with the old-fashioned image of nature as an inorganic material, indifferent to mankind, as a “lifeless mechanism” which can be experimented with and explored piecemeal by transforming and submitting it to human will. V.S. Stepin [233] points out that modern science has given birth to a new vision of the natural environment and people’s action in it. Nature is no longer considered to be a conglomerate of qualitatively specific objects, or even a mechanical system, but an integral living organism, which can only be transformed by human-beings within certain limits. Trespassing beyond those limits can change the system into a qualitatively different state, with potential irreversible loss of complexity, the disappearance of a number of biogeocenoses and, ultimately, the destruction of the human race. Stepin emphasizes that until the mid-20th century such a view of the natural environment as an organism would have been regarded as atavism, a throwback to a semi-mythical consciousness that contradicts scientific ideas and principles. But a new conception of living nature as a complex aggregate of interacting ecosystems, the promulgation of V.I. Vernadsky’s ideas of the biosphere as an integral life system interacting with the non-organic envelope of the Earth, and the modern concept of ecology have driven a new understanding of the environment as an organism rather than a mechanical system, an understanding that has been exalted into a scientific principle by numerous specific theories and facts.

This new understanding of nature has stimulated a search for new ideals regarding the relationship between human-beings and nature, which could offer a spiritual foundation for addressing current global problems. These included the idea of “deep ecology”, which breaks from anthropocentrism and, instead of treating man as the master of nature and center of the universe, considers him as a being involved in the diversity of life, an integral part of the living whole, correlating with other parts on the basis of cooperation and mutuality rather than competition or supremacy [87; 116; 334]. From this standpoint new ethical systems are being proposed, which include, alongside standards of human social behavior, “environmental ethics” (biosphere ethics), which put limits on human freedom of action in the struggle for survival. According to its proponents (O. Leopold, R. Attfield, L. White, E. Laszlo. J.B. Callicott, etc.), the task of the new ethics is to regulate the relationship of human beings with flora and fauna, convincing people to assume individual responsibility for the Earth’s health. There is also a new understanding of the influence of biology on socio-cultural cognition patterns and its role in the formation of a new co-evolutionary cognition theory that describes patterns for transforming fundamental human values, as well as changing value priorities in our civilization and proposing new research programs (as described by I.K. Liseyev [126]). It is highly significant that all these ideas, despite being based on a contemporary scientific picture of the natural environment, resonate with the views of Eastern cultures and with the Russian philosophy of cosmism.

As this new ethical view of the world has taken shape, programs have appeared for the reform of traditional religions and creation of a world view, which enshrines the ideal of human responsibility and our intrinsic link with the nature, viewing human activity as a development of the natural order rather than as opposition to it. The global character of many contemporary environmental issues has activated the search for accord between nations and socio-cultural groups on major aspects of environmental ethics. Consensus on at least some issues of key importance for human survival, though incredibly difficult, no longer appears utopian. One hopeful sign is the move towards consensus on the critical issue of environmental ethics, specifically the problem of consumption, which, according to research by A. Durning [69, p. 230] and A. Toynbee [239, p. 302] research, is treated in a very similar way by the world’s major religions and cultures as a need to place limits on human demands.

At the turn of the 21st century the critical role of the value-oriented component of environmental management is no long in doubt among scientists, professionals and politicians. However, the mechanism of factoring such values into economic activities remains underdeveloped. Research by P. Kozlovsky in the late 1990s went some way to addressing the problem, but further development is needed with special reference to the environmental sphere.


Recognition of the real threat of environmental catastrophe by the academic community and also among the general public has made the task of its prevention into an important political issue. Environmental rhetoric during elections campaigns and the creation of political parties with an environmental agenda are proof of such political response. However, despite this context of preoccupation with environmental issues, questions of political will and political power tend not to be explicitly discussed. This lack of discussion does not make the questions –who will protect the rights of future generations and in what way, will environmental awareness remain the concern of a select few or become an issue for the majority? – any less important and crucial for policymakers today. This is more than rhetoric. If, for example, environmental issues remain the concern of a select few, we will soon have an elite group, which claim to know the best recipe for the happiness of others. The political views of this group will be implemented through institutions, which cannot be understood by the majority of people and therefore cannot be formed democratically. Ways will be found of putting the elite knowledge into practice and preventing the implementation of decisions by elected authorities that are “wrong” from the viewpoint of the elite group. This is the path to political dictatorship and suppression of the majority by the minority, the imposition of a particular scenario of the future and even eco-genocide.

This threat was noticed as far back as the early 1950s when G. McConnell called for the political grounding of attitudes towards the environment. He pointed out the arbitrary character of Gifford Pinchot’s adage (“the greatest good to the greatest number for the longest time”), since it leaves too much to the discretion of whoever decides what is good [50]. For instance, the Nazi ideologists gave much attention to environmental policy (without using the term), promoting the view that landscape determines national character. “Again and again our blood is inflamed by the love of landscape, of plants, and the more we try to understand this love, the more keenly we seek its causes, the more we have to admit that the feelings evoked in us by a harmonious landscape, the feeling of deep affinity with plants belongs to innate biological laws inseparable from our existence” [353, p. 512]. There was even a project to return the whole of Germany’s countryside to its “natural” state, using the newly conquered territories for agriculture. The Belavezha Forest was to be expanded from 46 to 2,600 sq km as part of a new strategy for the creation of national parks. The landscape planning to be implemented in occupied territories earmarked for settlement by Germans was particularly ominous. The principle was one of total spatial and economic regulation, the creation of a “healthy” structure of society and the transformation of life to meet the needs of the Teutonic race [50]. Technocratic “progressive ecology”, developed in the western democracies in the 20th century, though less brutal, was also marked by a certain lack of humanism. Its ardent proponents in the 1929s were graduates of America’s first professional programs for resource management (forestry, geology, water resources), who competed for the right to carry out expert development of these public resources for the “common good”, without favor shown towards particular social classes. S.P. Hays summed up this ideology when he said: “The deepest significance of the conservation movement lies in its political implications: how should resource decisions be made and by whom? Every problem associated with resources gives rise to conflicts. How are they to be resolved: through party politics, compromise between opposing groups or through court action? All these ways were unacceptable for ecologists… All decisions on resource development and use, fund allocation and investment distribution had to be made by experts applying technical and scientific methods” [388, p. 271].

Deep Ecology also calls essentially for a refashioning of people, by declaring that social experience is materially depleted when people refuse to accepting and understand their objective community with the nature and the continuum of creation as a whole. The assumption is that human society has somehow mysteriously “fallen out” of nature and become “unnatural". Artificial, revolutionary attempts at social transformation are particularly dangerous when they are justified with the help of environmental arguments. Pol Pot’s bloody experiment in Cambodia declared the preservation of environmental capacity for future generations as one of its aims.

We must agree with D. Viner [50] when he argues that no bureaucrat nor technical expert is entitled to determine single-handedly what the “greatest good” might be. The choice between various views on resource management (entailing power over people) should be made politically and not by reference to privileged knowledge. What is needed most of all is the support of communities (territorial communities, most of all) for the collective solution of environmental problems, with the transfer of environmental knowledge to such communities.

We must not forget the economic aspects of the environmental crisis and that ethical speculations on environmental duties are unlikely to give results unless economic conditions are changed in a way that makes ethical behavior profitable. As Vittorio Hösle puts it [297], we must be careful to prevent good actions from being stupid actions. This entails making environmental institutions more efficient by the alignment of social and private interests, not only by improving environmental education of the general public, but also through self-adjustment of the value-based perceptions of political leaders and resource managers. Contemporary philosophy has identified several key problems that must be addressed in order to make the modern law-governed state more environmentally conscious.

CHANGING SEVERAL BASIC LEGAL CATEGORIES.Today the classical distinction between personal rights and property rights is being revised. The legislative systems of several European countries have begun to consider the animal as a separate legal category (between a person and a thing) because an animal and, of course, the ecosystem as a whole, has ontological dignity, which merits protection by ethics and law.

CHANGING THE CONCEPT OF OWNERSHIP.The common concept of ownership today is that of full ownership (the Napoleonic Code). However, we are seeing gradual movement back towards the views of Fichte, who proceeded from the category of use (expounded particularly in the theory of ownership rights) and admitted the compatibility of many partial ownership rights to one object (e.g., a forest plot). According to this approach, the owner of renewable resources that are essential for life cannot have the right to destroy the resource, but only to use it (receiving a part of the natural resource rent) because neither an individual nor any collective has the right to destroy the conditions of human survival.

CHANGING HUMAN SOCIALIZATION STRATEGY AND NURTURING THE QUALITIES OF TOLERANCE, RESPECT FOR THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS AND RESPECT FOR THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF DIFFERENT CULTURES.The role of consensus and search for agreement in resolving conflicts, including those related to the use of natural resources, is growing. Correspondingly, the search for agreement and consensus between all interested parties and socio-cultural communities should become an important part of the design of conceptual views and of plans for their implementation. This can be the basis for the organization of communities, their interrelationships and their coordination.

CHANGING THE CONCEPT OF RESPONSIBILITY.We are witnessing actualization of the principle “whoever bears power must bear responsibility”. This idea from the philosophy of law needs to be applied in addressing threats to the environment: whoever acquires machinery that poses a serious environmental risk must acknowledge that the consequences may be extremely unfavorable. Thus, he bears civil liability for that machinery, even if no criminal intent or negligence has been proved. The very fact of acquiring environmentally harmful machinery entails liability.

CLARIFICATION OF THE CLASSICAL CONCEPT OF DEMOCRACY.People must make decisions that affect their interests themselves, because that is the only way of avoiding violation of people’s interests in the long run. But in the age of environmental crisis the decisions, which people take themselves, are not necessarily justified due to the absence of mechanisms to ensure that the interests of other people, who are affected in some way by their decision, will be protected. In particular, unborn future generations cannot state their interests, let alone protect them. So, in its relations with the natural environment, our society needs some the public-law analogs to trusteeship, as it is implemented in private law.

Changes in our world view caused by awareness of the reality of the environmental threat could be considered in further detail. But what has been said is sufficient to show that the world is seeking intensively for new ways of organizing environmental management. A few points should be stressed in order to avoid misunderstanding. First, these changes do not imply the denial of scientific rationality, as that would involve a terrifying regress in the evolution of human consciousness. Secondly, if we are to rise to the environmental challenge, we cannot entirely neglect the new subjectivity. An absolute refusal to use new technology seems highly improbable, but the priority must be given to environmental impact, and the question, “Is is possible to do that?” must be supplemented by the question “Does it make sense to do that?” The technology expert must carry out preliminary assessment of the environmental and social consequences of his actions and if negative consequences prevail (or even if some doubt exists ) the idea should not be implemented. At the turn of the third millennium we should remember the Buddhist tradition that denies the possibility of knowledge without compassion. The outstanding 20th century geographer, G. White, wrote in a similar vein: “ … I feel clearly that I must not begin my research unless it promises results, which will help me advance towards the goals that are of concern to people and until I am ready to undertake all practical steps to transform my results into action” [247, p. 385].

At the start of the third millennium, several key factors of environmental management are together changing the fundamentals of thought and action about the natural world. These factors include: recognition of the threat of global environmental disaster, understanding of the multiplicity of future scenarios (including some, which entail the extinction of humankind) and of concepts of “rationality” in respect of environmental management, appreciation of the importance of mechanisms for collective decision-making, and attention to values and politics.

How the Threat of Environmental Disaster Changes Our View of the World

Most countries today are part of a global economic system characterized by free movement of goods and services, ideas and capital. Global integration has brought considerable benefits: the international division of labor, dynamic advantages (including economies of scale) and rapid dissemination of innovations. Markets are exerting greater influence on environment protection work through technology transfer, change in the level of demand for goods that have environmental impact, “green” protection of consumer rights, etc. Global markets have made the younger generation more mobile and stimulated the transfer of social norms and behavior standards, thus intensifying convergence in all spheres. At the same time, the global economy has created new problems by encouraging unequal wealth distribution, raising financial risks, reducing the stability of social systems, exacerbating socio-cultural conflicts, and contributing to the creation of monopolies and oligopolies. Economic power is passing from small, locally established businesses to global corporations.

Particularly serious problems arise for countries, regions and local communities, which are not integrated or are less integrated with the world economy. They face the choice of either importing environmental institutions from developed economies or developing specific institutions based exclusively on their own traditions of nature conservation. The first option may involve mechanical copying of foreign experience, which would inevitably lead to the destruction of traditional environmental institutions and may leave the country or region with an environmental management system that is unsuited to its specific conditions. But choice of the second option could lead to isolationism: specific domestic rules will make it difficult to apply positive international experience in addressing ecological problems and the acquisition of new environmental technologies will be limited by lack of foreign investment.

Strong competition on global markets makes the pursuit by countries and regions of their own internal environmental policy increasingly impracticable. In these circumstances many developing and transition countries tend to downgrade local environmental standards in order to obtain manufacturing capacity that developed economies no longer wish to host (often because it is obsolete and polluting). Supranational regulation is necessary to prevent multinational corporations taking advantage of this situation, and new approaches are needed to protect local communities and small nations with their own specific traditions of environmental management.

The nature of environmental management is inevitably transformed in the context of economic globalization. Greater impact of market forces (competition) is accompanied by greater influence of international economic organizations (the WTO, World Bank, IMF, etc.) on supranational policies (including environment policy), subjecting them to tough economic conditions. New limitations arise in the choice and application of unilateral approaches and methods of environmental regulation inside countries and local communities. This happens because, in the context of global economic integration, territorial communities cannot implement their own economic and social policy without taking account of globally established prices, market conditions and investor expectations.

Global economic integration is promoting the convergence5 of environmental institutions, primarily formal institutions, which are most subject to international market forces and competition. This imposes additional costs upon society, both in case of efficient environmental management and (even more so) in case of less efficient management [470]. If, for example, the environmental costs of a country, region, local territory or company are considerable and in excess of the world average (though fully justified), its export opportunities or investment appeal may suffer. Even when the actual change in relative costs is negligible, the anticipation or threat of such an effect can paralyze environmental policy if politicians come under economic and lobbying pressure from public associations and labor movements (demands for protection, lobbying and other forms of assistance to companies operating in international markets). Policy makers may be trapped between environmental priorities and the need to increase earnings from exploitation of natural resources (to boost wage levels and profits from international trade and investments).

Meanwhile, reduced spending on environment protection, which is typical of many developing and transition economies (Russia is no exception), may lead to natural resource degradation and depletion even in the medium term. These losses undermine the subsistence of territorial communities, which can result in social crises.

Globalization and dynamic development of global markets encourage countries to comply with unified environmental requirements as they strive to secure living standards similar to those of the developed nations, especially for the intellectual elite. Otherwise, counties risk losing their human capital, since the globalized world has encouraged unprecedented mobility of human resources. International unification of environmental regulation is also promoted by competition considerations as countries and international corporations compete for export markets.

The convergence of environmental institutions is leading to the creation of supranational environmental standards. Product standards in member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as well as many other countries require importers to meet certain mandatory health and safety requirements. The bigger a country’s import market, the great the effect of its internal standards on producers in foreign countries and on international reference standards. Politicians must therefore find compromise in order to facilitate trade.

The main problem is that national and regional governments avoid making unilateral decisions that might reduce the competitiveness of their producers for fear of negative social consequences. So the effect of globalization on environmental policy is two-sided: it not only restricts management of internal resources and implementation of unilateral policy, but also impedes collective decision-making as some countries strive to obtain unilateral economic advantages. The combined effect is to postpone the making of important decisions in the globalized economic system.

Convergence of environmental management in the globalized economy prevents some countries from entering global and developed markets. This problem requires consolidated efforts by supranational organizations, entrepreneurs and the general public, since common environmental standards for wealthy and poor nations (and individual territories within countries) entails a need for additional payments by the wealthiest countries in favor of the poorest [447]. This is a very difficult political problem. For example, the European Union member states did not increase the scale of their assistance to developing countries during the last two decades of the 20th century [72; 76].

Although, on the one hand, the pressure of globalization is holding back improvements in environmental management, on the other hand, consumer rights are expanding in both developed and developing countries, advances are being made in self-regulation by manufacturers and the green movement is gathering strength both domestically and internationally. The emerging trend towards the unification of environmental institutions encourages the design and application of environmentally-friendly methods of production and consumption. However, this process has its negative aspects, e.g., economic growth in poor countries is held back as high ecological requirements for products block their access to the wealthiest markets. Indirectly, this leads to the further spread of poverty and disintegration of local communities, which, in turn, exacerbates environment pollution and the depletion of natural resources.


The pursuit of balanced, sustainable development is a key way of countering the negative consequences of globalization. The report of the UN Secretary General at the 55th Session of the UN General Assembly (А/55/1 of 30 August 2000)6 stresses that achievement of the main goal of sustainable development should solve a twofold problem: it should meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their needs, while also protecting the environment.

The principal outcome of the UN Summit in Rio-de-Janeiro (1992) was the formation of a new global partnership for sustainable development, based on the inseparability of environment protection and social and economic development. The Agenda 21 adopted at the Summit remains the fundamental action plan for sustainable development. At the Rio+5 Special Session of the UN General Assembly (1997) and later at the Rio+10 Summit in Johannesburg (2002) strong opinions were voiced stating that only a few countries are able to benefit from the accelerating pace of globalization, while the majority experience negative results in the form of growing unemployment and slower economic growth. It was acknowledged that the overall state of the world environment was deteriorating. Acid rain and trans-border pollution, formerly associated with the developed economies, had become acute problems for developing countries as well. It was agreed that the limited ability of the global ecosystem to absorb growing pollution created difficulties for the social and economic development of various countries. The Johannesburg Summit set important new tasks, namely: to halve the number of people without access to basic sanitary services by 2015; to minimize harm caused to human health and the natural environment by the use and production of chemicals by 2020; to preserve or recover depleted fish stocks to a level capable of providing maximum and sustainable yield immediately and wherever possible not later than 2015; and to ensure substantial reduction of current rates of biodiversity loss by 2010 [173].

The problems of globalization were also discussed at the Millennium Session of the UN General Assembly (2002) which named six values of modern civilization: freedom, equality and solidarity (in the face of global risks and globalization), tolerance (mutual respect, non-violent resolution of conflicts), respect for nature (“Prudence must be shown in the management of all living species and natural resources, in accordance with the precepts of sustainable development. Only in this way can the immeasurable riches provided to us by nature be preserved and passed on to our descendants”), and shared responsibility (for managing worldwide economic and social development, as well as coping with threats to international peace and security). The Millennium Declaration adopted at the Session [68] emphasized the main task of ensuring that globalization should become a positive factor for all the nations. It mentions that developing and transition economies are facing particular difficulties. The Declaration sets out the key objectives, to which special significance is attached: security and disarmament; development and poverty eradication; protection of our common environment, human rights, democracy and good governance; protection of the vulnerable strata of society, meeting the special needs of Africa, strengthening the United Nations. As regards protection of the environment, the Declaration stresses: “We reaffirm our support for the principles of sustainable development, including those set out in Agenda 21, agreed upon at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. We resolve therefore to adopt in all our environmental actions a new ethic of conservation and stewardship”.

The importance of complying with the recommendations of the Rio Summit was noted in the Declaration of the UNEP Special Session of Ministers of the Environment (Malmö, Sweden, 2000), which stated that the root causes of global environmental degradation are embedded in social and economic problems such as pervasive poverty, unsustainable production and consumption patterns, inequality in distribution of wealth, and debt burden. Environmental problems are to be regarded as the result, firstly, of the depletion of natural resources (both renewable and non-renewable), secondly, of environment pollution (dispersion in the environment of substances and energy in amounts which cannot be assimilated), and thirdly, ecosystem degradation.

The idea of sustainable development is not immune to criticism. It has been said that sustainable development cannot be achieved in the current stressful environmental situation, that the concept was “invented” for developing countries, that it is contrary to the concept of economic growth and that the governments of developed countries do not take it into consideration, etc. Reference is made to Article 2 of the Maastricht Treaty, which only mentions “sustainable growth respecting the environment” rather than attaining the goal of sustainable development.

Nevertheless, the great majority of international organizations have included a substantial environmental component in their agenda, which mention the transition to sustainable development. For example, the conference of the World Bank and IMF (Prague, 25-26 September 2000) paid considerable attention to the issues of poverty, economic globalization, public participation in decision making, global problems of climate change and loss of biodiversity, IT and communications, and debt burden. The establishment agreement of the World Trade Organization states: “The relations of the members in the field of trade and economic endeavor should be conducted with a view to raising standards of living, ensuring full employment and a large and steadily growing volume of real income and effective demand, and expanding the production of and trade in goods and services, while allowing for the optimal use of the world’s resources in accordance with the objective of sustainable development, seeking both to protect and preserve the environment and to enhance the means for doing so in a manner consistent with their respective needs and concerns”. This formula, while stressing the supremacy of neo-liberal trade rules, shows that environment protection is not merely a disguise for protectionism. The WTO General Council established the Trade and Environment Committee in 1995 to oversee all areas of the multilateral trade system (goods, services and intellectual property). The Committee seeks to link various measures in trade and environment protection in order to promote sustainable development as well as designing recommendations for amendments to provisions regulating the multilateral trade system.

Commitment to the idea of sustainable development is proclaimed by most countries, despite some discrepancies in its understanding. Theoretically, two means of transition to sustainable development are under consideration: 1) scientific and technological advance based on transition to the use of non-fossil energy sources and the introduction of unified international taxes on the use of fossil fuels (СО2); 2) creation of a social system that would accept low growth rates. There is also political agreement on the following issues: securing democracy at all levels from global to local; universal human rights; sustainability of the natural environment everywhere in the world; economic protectionism for the most oppressed and exploited people, including women, children, cultural minorities and small nations. It has become clear that achieving actual sustainability in the globalized world depends on a new approach to managing investments and trade, which gives equal status to the goals of economic growth, environment protection, social justice and the preservation of cultural diversity. None of the trade and investment rules of the neo-liberal “trade environment”, which blindly assert the priority of freedom of trade over other principles, can solve these problems, but nor can the conservative ecological standpoint that focuses solely on negative aspects of economic globalization.


The range of sustainable development factors that receive consideration has expanded greatly in recent years, enabling a new outlook on life quality that is based on integrated assessment of a number of economic, ecological and social parameters. But it is still the case that scant attention has been paid to the cultural dimension, despite its tremendous impact on social development7. This is mainly because the concepts of sustainable development are shaped in accordance with modernization theory, based on the principles of neo-classical economics. Nevertheless, we are seeing a substantial reconsideration of the role of culture in development processes. According to Alain Tourain, the future of the world will depend on whether a bridge can be formed between reason and culture, between modernity and the national and cultural identity of nations, between development as a universal goal and culture as a value-based choice, and between economic development and social transformation [245].

According to this position, humanization and heightened attention to the socio-cultural peculiarities of territories and settlements emerge as the major features of sustainable environmental management. In this context culture is understood very broadly as the common denominator of social life. It is transmitted from one person to another in the process of socialization and contact with other cultures and provides a sense of belonging to a certain group. To a large extent culture determines the motivation of people, including their environmental motivation: whatever motives guide a person in his actions, whether implicit (subconscious) or explicit, whatever terms he uses to describe those motives – all of that is fixed in culture. Culture creates solidarity among people, but it often becomes a cause of conflicts within social groups and between them. A modern approach distinguishes the following elements in culture:

  • Notions (concepts). They are mainly contained in language and they enable the organization of human experience. A person takes cognizance of the world through the basic notions of form, space, time, etc. The perception of those notions may be very different in different cultures.
  • Relations. Not only does culture distinguish parts of the world by means of notions but it reveals how these parts are connected with one other. This helps to define the understanding of relations of cause and effect, including those which hold between society and nature.
  • Values are commonly accepted beliefs regarding the goals, towards which a person must strive. These are the basis of ethical principles. Different cultures give preference to different values.
  • Rules (including laws) regulate human behavior in accordance with the values of the given culture.

The elements of culture are interconnected. Values require substantiation, and themselves substantiate the rules, expectations and standards implemented in the course of interaction between people. Social incentives and punishments that encourage compliance with norms are called sanctions and they obtain their legitimacy on the basis of norms.

There is an extensive literature on the problems of interaction between globalization and culture, and much research is being carried out. However, the views of authors differ greatly: from Francis Fukuyama [374] with his comparatively optimistic vision of global development and belief in the inevitable victory of liberal democracy in the post-totalitarian world, to the rather gloomy estimates of Samuel P. Huntington, for whom the post-Cold War world is in transition towards a clash of civilizations. Huntington’s premise of the inexpediency of separating culture from its underlying basis, which is civilization, is close to the views of Fernand Braudel [333, p. 8-9]. For Huntington, civilizations are “the broadest cultural entities to which humans have a sense of belonging”. In his view, factors of cultural civilization how have absolute priority. The 20th century was the age of ideology, the age of rivalry between socialism, communism, liberalism, totalitarianism, Nazism and democracy. What we are now experiencing is not the “end of history” (Fukuyama), but the end of ideology. The 21st century begins as the “age of culture, with differences, interactions and conflicts between cultures in the foreground.” This has become so self-evident nowadays that scientists, politicians, economists and the military all “look to culture as the central factor explaining human, social and political behavior.”

Responding to the threat of a “clash of civilizations”, the United Nations proclaimed the year 2001 to be the Year of Dialogue among Civilizations. The basis of such dialog is the notion of “diversity”, which was declared by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan [8] to be “the human face of globalization”, imparting dynamism and hope to mankind, while differences between people, their views, cultures and life styles are a source of strength. Countries today are too interconnected and today’s weapons are too destructive: contacts between the peoples of the world must be based on respect for human dignity, because the way people regard diversity has become a deciding factor and the perception of diversity as a threat is the chief cause of wars.

For this diversity to be safeguarded, approaches to sustainable development have to acquire a cultural dimension and development policy has to become more sensitive to the issues of preserving cultural integrity and the survival ability of various socio-cultural groups. In this perspective, environmental management also acquires a cultural dimension and a new methodological framework. This is because the cultural context of development determines to a great extent traditional use of natural resources, formal and informal environmental institutions, and permissible levels of environment pollution (permissible according to commonly accepted standards). Culture interacts with all aspects of sustainability. Qualitative and quantitative indicators of changes in the cultural environment could be included in the analysis of sustainable development dynamics in different territories. Culture ought to be included in the sustainability capital structure of territories in addition to natural, anthropogenic, human and social components (perhaps in association with social capital as socio-cultural capital)8. Defining the cultural dimension of sustainable development, G. Spelling proposed the following principal characteristics: diversity, change, holism, sovereignty and relativism [446].

CULTURAL DIVERSITY assumes recognition of the value and uniqueness of cultures. Sustainable development focuses on the preservation of diversity. The loss of any cultural tradition deprives humanity of its inherent sources of knowledge and symbols. The Round Table “Cultural Diversity and Globalization” (Paris 1999, under the auspices of UNESCO) declared that “cultural diversity is an expression and genuine presentation of the deepest human creative potential, an attempt at the self-development and self-organization of man in time and space, without which the very fact of human existence is deprived of meaning” [70]. Cultural diversity ensures a plurality of “world views” and the existence of specific information, e.g., methods of rational use of natural resources in different geographical conditions, or environmental institutions unknown to other cultures. However, while acknowledging the value of the infinite diversity of cultures, one cannot ignore the importance of aspirations towards unified global civilization (based on principles of tolerance and freedom), which channels the peaceful process of formation and development of the ideas and convictions of the human race. This civilization should be characterized by the toleration of disagreement and entrenchment of basic universal human rights, including the right to vote on issues of resource management.

CULTURAL CHANGE is the change of any aspect of culture by the modification of cultural features or their aggregates. Cultural change can result from the independent evolution of the given culture, its adaptation to the natural environment or can be caused by contact with other cultures [228]. Cultural changes include all kinds of transformations, even transformations that are devoid of integrity or any apparent development trend. The notion of cultural change is closely associated with the notion of cultural dynamics, though not identical with it, because it has a broader application and is less definite in character. Cultural change can lead to the enrichment and differentiation of culture, but there are also changes, which result in the simplification of cultural life, in its anomie, which is generally understood as a decline and slide towards a state of cultural crisis. Cultural stagnation – the prolonged invariability and replication of norms, values, meanings and knowledge – is a special category. Stagnation should be distinguished from the stability of cultural traditions, which occurs when traditions dominate and suppress innovations.

Cultural changes are inevitable because cultures develop. Globalization has accelerated the rate of change of most cultures, and many of them, particularly those of small nations, are disappearing. Sustainable development assumes that cultural changes are not only inevitable but necessary and desirable within certain limits. All cultures have some elements that are destructive and repressive. Traditions of infanticide, slavery, and pollution of the environment are detrimental and, from the universal point of view, unethical. Recognition of the fact that some cultural values destroy the integrity of human society and must therefore be changed entails the need for development of international law. Sustainable development proceeds from the premise that socio-cultural groups determine (via collective choice) the character and methods of cultural change. This, however, should be a meaningful process, which would identify a cultural change corresponding to certain development patterns and actions before the latter are implemented, evaluate these changes with reference to the values and aspirations of the relevant cultural groups and retain the possibility of a collective choice to accept, adopt or reject external actions that stimulate the changes.

INTEGRITY, HOLISM OF CULTURE mean the completeness, self-containment and autonomy of units with complex internal structure; their contrast with their surroundings due to their internal activity; their qualitative singularity stipulated by their specific mode of functioning and development [228]. This methodological principle supposes that culture is a hierarchy of “integrities” and each particular culture possesses internal integrity and functions and evolves according to its own rules. Cultures are “systems” composed of different parts (sub-systems): economic, environmental, political, linguistic, religious, etc. The parts interact in such a way that any change in a sub-system changes the system as a whole.

Acknowledgement of the integrity of culture acquires greater significance with the advance of post-industrial trends related to development of the information society. This integrity is what that helps to attain individualized, tailor-made, consumer-oriented products that are not more expensive than the standardized, mass-produced goods of the industrial age. Integrity is also the pillar of management efficiency in the framework of multinational corporations, which employ people of various nationalities representing different cultural traditions.

CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY means that the development of a particular culture is independent of any external forces, circumstances or persons. In contrast to cultural monism, cultural sovereignty does not entail the assimilation of cultures by some dominating culture as the only way of preventing conflicts between socio-cultural groups. In the context of sustainable development cultural sovereignty presupposes proper valuation of the sovereignty of groups and individuals, since nobody must impose their culture by force. Each social group should be able to determine its own possibilities and limits of cultural change, managing this process of its own free will. It should also have the right to decide whether to preserve, change or adapt its culture to others. If a social group is deprived of such rights, there is likely to be resistance (either active or passive). International experience shows that cultures, even those which have been under long-lasting oppression, are able to regenerate, which is of great importance for social reformation.

CULTURAL RELATIVISM emphasizes the historical peculiarity of each culture, which can only be evaluated on the basis of its own principles rather than by certain universal criteria [228]. In other words, cultures can be understood but not evaluated outside their own context. Cultural relativism in its radical form is opposed to universalist and evolutionist conceptions of cultural development. With respect to environmental management this means that there is no single “correct” language to describe environmental issues; different environmental restrictions and regulations can have different and, furthermore, changing interpretations and there is always a choice between different strategies of environmental management both in theoretical research and in practical policy.

According full rights to the cultural dimension as a part of sustainable development makes the latter process multidimensional. Culture, in its relations with social aspects of development and regarded as an integral component of the interaction between human-beings and the environment, can stimulate ecological and economic change. It should also be mentioned that development is accompanied by cultural changes because it ultimately originates and is perceived by people as being derived from the culturally-determined image of the world (see Chapter 1.1). Only having understood the cultural basis of the dominant development pattern, can one forecast cultural changes resulting from any, including environmental, actions. Thus, supplementing the notion of sustainability with a cultural component enables mechanisms of environmental management to be identified, which can be efficient in multicultural surroundings.

Specifics of homo responsabilis and related conceptual categories

Environmental management takes human behavior as its subject matter. Broadly speaking, its main content is the description and prediction of human behavior and ways of regulating it in order to prevent environmentally negative consequences of human actions and, ultimately, environmental catastrophe. This task includes the description of individual behavior and interactions between people, and also of various institutions (laws, norms, rules, customs, etc.) that embody people’s past behavior and their ideas of the future. A scientific approach to the description and prediction of human behavior requires generalization and the identification of types. In practical terms, it means the application of a certain hypothesis that involves a simplified representation of human nature. Such a hypothesis (or model) is not the subject matter of the study but its tool, an element of the relevant methodology. Every social science has its own conception of the human being and the logic of his behavior, which defines the human attributes that are of interest to the particular field of study and disregards all other attributes. The content of this working model of the human being and the choice of attributes are what determine the specific nature of the given social science and its subject matter9. Environmental management, however, does not specify a particular model of the human being. Researchers borrow human behavioral models from other social sciences (economics, sociology, political studies, psychology, anthropology, etc.), and apply the respective conceptual framework. On the one hand, this offers a better understand of different aspects of human interaction with nature, on the other hand, the insufficiency of these behavioral models for understanding the motivation of individuals in the context of threatened environmental catastrophe makes it hard to design efficient mechanisms of environmental management. So the initial stage of research must be the design of a model of the human being, which is usable for a socio-cultural methodology of environmental management, and defining its basic conceptual categories.

The best starting point in designing this model of the human being for research into environmental management is the imperative of responsibility (see Chapter 1.1), which, ultimately, is responsibility for averting environmental damage that could destroy human life. The subject of this responsible is the individual, so most researchers assert individual responsibility. Even when an individual action cannot be recognized as the cause of some consequence because it is part of the collective action of a group or social institution, the individual, according to M.S. Solodkaya [221; 222], incurs individual moral responsibility in view of his own ability for self-determination. The object of responsibility should be ensuring that human existence can continue in the future, which in a multitude of potential situations corresponds to the consequences of the action, though without excluding the result of the action. The source of responsibility may be a transcendental entity (e.g., God, as in the ethics of Immanuel Kant, William James, etc.), an ideal subject (“the future of mankind”), or an individual and a group (as a collection of individuals). Such are the premises, which should be used to develop a human behavior model that is most appropriate to the tasks of environmental management, based on a synthesis of the approaches to human behavior used in various sciences.

It is particularly important to use such a behavior model as the basic model because environmental management practice has a marked tendency, either conscious or unconscious, to apply the model of homo administrativus [416]. That model, which is characteristic of public officials and the personnel of large corporations, tends to be applied mechanically to most economic entities and the environmental manager is expected to comply with commands and arbitrary targets for quality of the environment. This excludes initiative on the part of the agent in addressing environmental problems and favors selection of non-conflictual solutions. Homo administrativus is by definition incapable of innovative behavior, and most developed economies do their best to limit his role precisely for that reason.

Prerequisites for the creation of homo responsabilis

In its general form, the model of man contains a number of factors: man’s aims; the means of achieving those aims; information on the processes that make the means capable of achieving the aims [1]. In defining the features of a model of man, which would best suit the socio-cultural approach to environmental management that we are developing, we should proceed from the assumption that such a man will use the following guidelines in making decisions: the potential threat of a global (and local) environmental catastrophe brought about by human economic activity; responsibility to future generations for their right to enjoy access (as we do) to natural resources and a healthy environment, including the preservation of biological and cultural diversity; and the right to sustainable development in harmony with nature.

Those guidelines can be criticized both from the point of view of contemporary economics and from the positions of the theory of “environmental culture”. From the first point of view, the proposed behavior model may be regarded as too idealistic, because the category of responsibility seems to be at odds with the fundamentals of classical economics, characterized by economic determinism and the priority given to economic logic in all spheres of social life. But things are not so simple. The category of responsibility has not been always repudiated by classical liberal economics10. The outstanding liberal economist Friedrich A. Hayek regarded the responsibility of individuals as the basis for the development of a free society. He writes in his book Individualism and Economic Order, “…aversion to general principles and the preference for proceeding from particular case to particular case, is the product of the movement which with the ‘inevitably of gradualness’ leads us back from a social order resting on the general recognition of certain principles to a system in which order is created by direct commands.” [294, p. 22]. He believed that a consistent individualist would be a zealot of voluntary cooperation and that what is needed in order for the individualistic society to function is not only smaller associations of people, but also the traditions and customs that take shape in a free society, because violence can only be minimized where conventions and traditions have made human behavior largely predictable.

Hayek also said that the issue is not whether we need guiding principles, without which we would merely go with the tide, but rather whether there is any available set of principles suitable for common use, which we could follow. Where can a set of commandments be found to guide us in solving the problems of our time? Where is the consistent philosophy, which would not only identify ethical goals but show us the correct way of reaching them? Hayek seems to debate with some modern Russian economists and entrepreneurs concerning ethical constraints on individual economic freedom when he refers to Edmund Burke’s statement: “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity, in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption, in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves” [317, p. 319].

So liberal economic society and environmentally responsible behavior are not mutually exclusive from a theoretical standpoint. It follows that the main task of environmental management is to identify mechanisms for value-based environmental impact on the free market economy.

If we now consider the model of homo responsabilis from the positions of the theory of “environmental culture”, the model may not appear to be “radical” enough. Recognition of equal rights of human beings and other living beings is undoubtedly a part of environmental ethics, and the effort to update them is more important today than ever before [417; 316; 29]. However, we cannot count on any amendments to legal systems until there are changes to fundamental ethical norms. Environmental management is inevitably anthropocentric because both its object and its subject are human beings. Biological scientific knowledge cannot have impact on social regulation until it has been embraced by culture [126], and that is a complicated and lengthy process. Attempts to accelerate this process are dangerous. Such knowledge does not constitute a world outlook and should not grant exclusive rights to control society or nature. This is not to say that the significance of environmental restrictions or other measures suggested by biological studies are devalued. Rather, those results must be accepted by people as self-limitations in the form of political decisions; in other words, they must be mediated by culture.

These considerations again confirm that human survival depends not so much on economic reforms or defense policy transformations, or on efforts to improve existing social systems, but rather on the spiritual and ethical condition of the human personality. A crisis in any social system is ultimately rooted in a crisis of personality. As the Metropolitan Kirill has said [156], Jesus Christ, as we see Him in the Gospel, was not a social reformer, but He was a great reformer of the human spirit. That is why He never appealed to “systems” or “structures”, but always to the living human being.

The main challenge to creating homo responsabilis as part of a socio-cultural methodology of environmental management is to properly define the “benefit” to be gained from specific environmental actions. Most ecological, cultural and social values are difficult to quantify in numerical or monetary terms, and this is why they are often neglected. A similar effect is evident when values are compared over time: current values are always preferred to the values of future periods, which tend to be underestimated. Also, the distribution of environmental benefits and costs is inadequate, from the standpoint of the ethical principle of equity, because the majority of benefits are appropriated by the wealthier and more influential members of society, while costs are incurred by those in society who are economically disadvantaged and deprived of real power.

Therefore, when designing a human behavior model for environmental management, it is best to start off from economics, integrating the approaches used by ethics, sociology, cultural and political studies, anthropology and psychology along the way. The development trends in these sciences that have emerged in recent decades (changing approaches to the investigation of human behavior in the natural environment, integration of economic and ethical approaches to the analysis of human behavior, a rapprochement between economics and social studies) are creating conditions for identifying the main features and specifics of the homo responsabilis model as the main tool of a socio-cultural methodology of environmental management.


Studies of human behavior in different geographical conditions have been pursued for thousands of years. As far back as the 5th century BC Hippocrates, in his treatise On Air, Waters and Places, asserted that there was a strong dependence between disease and climate conditions in different places. The ideas of the ancient Greeks on the influence of climate on culture were very popular in medieval Europe, and the connection between climate and history were studied by 18th and 19th century French philosophers such as Jean Bodin and Montesquieu [378].

The 19th century saw a burgeoning of interest in man’s relationship with his geographical environment. The century saw the emergence of “environmentalism” as a teaching that brought together many views, having in common their accent on the effect of the natural environment on man. Human behavior was viewed as largely determined by the need to survive in the natural environment; behavior was regarded as an aggregate of responses to the stimuli generated by climate, soils, relief, vegetation, etc. The elements were believed to be forces beyond human control, an independent variable, while the dependent variable was human behavior. Early 20th century scientific thinking was also dominated by such views [59, p. 51-52]. This was largely explained by the influence of Darwinism. The social sciences had to be strictly based on evolution: various cultural phenomena were examined from the point of view of their origins and evolution, followed by their survival or extinction [380]. Such a geographically determined approach finds the roots of any human activity in natural conditions, following a cause and effect chain. The key to understanding of human behavior was judged to lie in deterministic relations: as soon as the natural conditions determining particular social or cultural phenomena were known, the historical and geographical development peculiarities of various nations and socio-cultural groups, their environmental management patterns and environmental institutions appeared to be clear.

Geographical determinism was finally subjected to criticism from the mid-20th century, primarily from the positions of French Possibilism [323; 325], the proponents of which suggested that man is an active element, whereas the natural environment is inert or is an arena that offers various possibilities for human activity. The possibilists believed that that “there are no necessities, but everywhere possibilities, and man, as the master of the possibilities, is the judge of their use” [368, p. 236]. On this approach environmental issues are substituted by the idea of a transforming activity, which aims to change the habitat. Such an approach, focusing on the transformation of nature, was long dominant in 20th-century Russia where, in the absence of a market economy, the functions of environment protection were performed by resource-producing entities integrated in the system of state government.

More balanced views of the relations between environmental factors and social phenomena emerged at the end of the 20th century under the impact of new ecological data. The positions of environmentalists grew stronger, especially in respect of environmental management and ecological aspects of geography. This is because, as G. Gold has pointed out, ecology is still influenced by the Darwinian idea of the struggle of an organism for existence against a hostile environment, although ecologists have broadened the concept of “environment”, which now includes anthropogenic as well as natural components [59, p. 55]. These views have extrapolated the methods of the natural sciences to social processes and phenomena, especially when analyzing natural resource use and environmental management.

The 1960s saw the emergence of Neo-environmentalism alongside the ecosystem-oriented version of Environmentalism. The advocates of Neo-environmentalism studied the interaction between human-beings and the environment, extended the scope of economic analysis by the inclusion of spatial parameters and made extensive use of numerical methods and modeling. Their point of reference was the ideas of microeconomics, which assumed conditions favorable to free competition of producers and consumers of goods and services, a uniform natural environment, unified tastes and rational decision-making (rational by rigid economic criteria). This approach is based on the model of homo economicus and a space free from transaction expenses, typical of neo-classical economics. The result is a very simplified image of the institutional environment, with almost no regard for territorial differentiation. Indeed, if the development of environmental institutions and spatial allocation of entities are defined in a context of zero transaction costs, history and traditions have no significance, since changes in pricing or environmental preferences immediately entail restructuring of the respective institutions in order to adjust to the new conditions.

Recognition of the limited character of those approaches led to the appearance in the late 20th century of so-called behavioral geography, which included the human-being in geographical studies, drawing attention to the importance of social issues and cultural context in environmental management. Behavioral geography received its impetus from new trends in the geography of culture [342]. The 29th International Geographical Congress, “Living in Diversity” (2000), noted that while studies of the human-nature relationship in the 1960s focused on time-tested means of protection against unfavorable natural phenomena in particular geographical conditions and on cultural landscapes viewed as the result of interaction between nature and the local environment, the 1970s saw a change of focus that reflected radical changes in society. The natural environment and landscape had to be regarded, not as a given, but, rather as social structures with both objective and subjective aspects. Cultural geography was reoriented towards study of the attitude of particular social groups to the environment in the places where they lived, the extent of awareness and responsibility for the state of the environment, ways of using natural resources, and the role played by dominant religious and philosophical outlooks. This approach has been reflected in the concept of cultural landscape as an object of natural and cultural heritage [44], based on intellectual and spiritual activity in the formation of the cultural landscape.


The need for such integration flows from the very nature of human activity and the need for a social order that takes account of the interests of future generations. Until a short time ago ethics, on the one hand, and ecological and economic theory, on the other, developed independently. This was a consequence of the mechanistic picture of the world. The end of the 20th century saw efforts to close the gap, most notably in the theorization of “ethical economics”. According to Peter Koslovsky [101], since economics and ethics have the same object – the action of people and the coordination of that action under the guidance of reason, – their methodologies can be united in the theory of ethical economics. The assertion seems justified, since ethics (including environmental ethics) proceeds from what we might call “man’s best intentions”, while economics explores social institutions and their workings, in so far as they are based on self-interest.

Ethical economics offers a new approach to the definition of environmental management because the former is, according to Koslovsky, “… on the one hand, the economics of the ethical, of ethical institutions and rules, and on the other hand, the ethics of business” [101]. The main features of ethical economics are the following. First of all, it uses the tools of economics. For instance, the notion of “economies of scale”11 is used in generalizing ethical norms and in evaluating the efficiency of various degrees of their generalization; the notion of “maximizing utility” is used in the description of ethical decision-making. Secondly, ethical economics is, essentially, a theory of the ethical prerequisites of business. In this sense it is close to neo-institutional theory, which states that market coordination and economic regulation via a price system can only function if certain institutional conditions are met [166]. Thirdly, ethical economics investigates the interpenetration of economics and ethics in the theory of goods. Things, natural objects become goods for an individual due to their specific value and the individual’s perception of their value, which determines their use in the economy12. So ethical economics helps us to understand social institutions in their cultural context, which is very important for the examination of institutional changes in the environmental sphere. In essence, the study of environmental management using the methods of ethical economics is an attempt to integrate ethical aspects (care for future generations, preservation of the aesthetic appeal of landscapes, species diversity, etc.) into what is an essentially economic model.

There is growing interest in environmental ethics as applied to economic regulation, for a number of reasons: 1) the scope and intensity of the environmental consequences of economic activity are increasing; 2) there has been a “new discovery of man” in specific sciences, raising the demands made on managers of organizations; 3) it has become urgent to counteract the growing gap between environmental ethics and the ethics of consumption. We will consider these factors in more detail.

The scope and intensity of the environmental consequences of economic activities are increasing due to the steady growth of human impact on the environment. This calls for knowledge in the sphere of practical ethics that can take account of these impacts in decision-making. The environmental consequences of economic activities must be taken into consideration to the fullest extent in order to minimize their potential negative effects and maximize potential positive impacts (synergetic and symbiotic effects). Consideration of the reverse impact of the environment on human activities requires special mental flexibility and sensitivity of an ethical nature. The increasing focus of science on the human being has been driven by socio-economic processes, caused by post-industrial developments. The turn of the 1990s saw the emergence of new theories of economic growth, which confirmed that the real motive force of economic progress is people [73]. Productivity was found to depend less on “external” than on “internal” factors associated with behavior of people who are the real driving force in the accumulation of productive (and environmental) knowledge. The new models of economic growth take the development of human potential to be the main factor of such growth. Environmental ethics seek how to relate the meaning and the object of economic activity to social life in all its diversity (political, cultural, religious and aesthetic), while maintaining the priority of preventing environmental catastrophe. The new ethics strive to permeate all spheres of human activity and consumption with environmental values (preserving the natural environment for future generations, ecological justice, etc). So the task of environmental ethics is to formulate general environmental values and norms, which can serve as guidelines for human activity.


Until the 1970s, economics dissociated itself from sociology, even though the study of the real economy is impossible without sociological tools (especially if it includes the environmental component). This had not always been so. Long ago, Adam Smith [217] used nearly all the economic and sociological tools that he found available. Instead of building ideal models, he preferred to explain economic phenomena directly using sociological terms and concepts. But the gap between economics and sociology grew ever wide in later periods as neo-classical economic theory became established. The new tools of economic analysis were put in place: the functions of demand and supply, production, cost, etc., which were of a mathematical nature and required algebraic notation or geometric presentation. The new set of tools called for simplified assumptions, such as atomism (society as a collection of individuals absolutely independent of each other), maximization of the target function (any individual compares all available options and chooses that, which maximizes the value of his target function), perfect information (any individual knows everything about what is happening in business, knows all functional relationships) and static analysis (investigating equilibrium states and overlooking how this equilibrium has been reached and how the system evolves). The result was an ideal world with its respective model of homo economicus. Many economic phenomena could not be included in this world because they could not be conveniently expressed in numerical form; and the cultural and social aspects typical of any business were ignored.

The situation changed to an extent in the first decades of the 20th century when American economists (Thorstein B. Veblen, John R. Commons, Wesley C. Mitchell, John B. Clark) tried to apply economic theory to the study of the real economy. Without denying the achievements of the neo-classicists, they believed that the creation of a theory of the real economy required the investigation of economic institutions (as collective actions that control, limit or liberate the actions of the individual). Hence, the term “institutionalism” was coined to denote their theories. They criticized the
economicus model and suggested their own alternative: the instincts of care, of the workman, of the hunter, of competition, of curiosity, etc.

However, economic theory continued to reject all sociological tools, despite the rapid development of economic sociology in the early 20th century (Maximilian K.E. Veber, Werner Sombart, David Emile Durkheim, Francois Simiand, Lester A. Ward and Franklin H. Giddings) and its search for approaches to the study of the economy. Max Weber [40; 41], for example, studied various types of capitalism, showing the impact of ethics and soсial thinking on the development of the economy; Emile Durkheim criticized economists for ignoring social reality (“wages depend not only on demand and supply but on certain ethical concepts”). But those were individual cases, while the overall dissociation between economics and sociology increased. A special role in this process was played by Talcott Parsons who formulated “a clear-cut division of labor” between economics and sociology: economists study the means of attaining goals, while sociologists focus on the values, which form those goals [426].

In was not until 1970s that new trends emerged in economics and sociology. Economics took a new interest in economic institutions. Neo-institutionalism rejects the harmonious neoclassical world where socio-cultural factors have no influence on economic life, where the role of social life is ignored, where there is no theft, breach of contract, strikes, etc. However, neo-institutionalism does not stand in contrast with neo-classicism, but supplements it by enriching the model of homo economicus. Interdisciplinarity is paramount: the findings of other fields (history, law, sociology, anthropology and psychology) are used in addition to economics. Formalization and mathematics lose popularity. According to Douglas C. North [166], the primary source of economic growth is the institutional and organizational structures of society. Institutions for North are the rules of the game that shape and determine potential choices in economic, political and social interaction between people and organizations. Their efficiency is in direct proportion to stability and the interlinking of ever greater numbers of people, expansion of the geographical scope of territories where the institutions operate. Institutions, both formal (laws, rules, etc.) and informal (customs, traditions, etc.), are endogenous, they have an inherent logic of self-development that is much dependent on the development of the specific socio-cultural community, which has gone before. In Russia, this trend in economic thought that captures the peculiarities of a society’s transformation has been evolving since the late 1990s in the works by R. Kapelushnikov, A. Mau, Ya. Kuzminova, A. Shastitko, A. Oleinik and others.

Late 20th century sociology also saw the appearance of new trends that analyze firms and markets (formerly the exclusive preserve of economics). Neo-classical models were found inadequate for explaining the operation of real markets, households or firms and the need for such sociological tools as social networks, business ethics, life values, etc., was established. Many studies were devoted to the theory of the firm. As one of the leaders of the new economic sociology, Mark Granovetter, remarked, the answer to the question “Why does a firm exist?” does not give the answer to the question “How did it come into being?” There are plenty of cases when profit could be made by setting up a firm, but it could not be set up due to obstacles of a social nature [425]. Moreover, the size of a firm is not only determined by its limit transaction (as the neo-institutionalists assert) but also by the social structure of the economy.

The ideas of social economics were an important vector of economic thought in the late 20th century and were called into being by the need for a new conception of society, which, without encroaching on individual and group autonomy, would combine it with social duty and the concept of “social good”. The approach has been most consistently developed by Amitai Etzioni [365, p.12-17] in the framework of “responsive communitari­anism”. Etzioni, while adhering to the basic ideas of liberal social thought, criticizes those of its premises which are inadequate to the current stage of social development, namely, the ideas of market self-sufficiency and unlimited individual freedom. The theory of responsive communitari­anism tries to align two approaches that are generally viewed as unconstructive: the libertarian approach, where free individuals are paramount, and the conservative communitarian, that prizes empirical and ethical aspects of unity between people, with scant attention for individual rights and emphasizing order at the cost of individual independence.

According to Etzioni, a community is a group of people sharing the same culture and similar emotional mindsets. The web of social relationships within such a group touches deeply rooted interrelations between individuals. It is not merely a chain of individual relationships but a crisscross of relationships, reinforcing the whole community and its members through common values, symbols and norms of behavior [365, p. 12-17]. High levels of mobility in present-day society cannot be regarded as an obstacle to the existence of communities, because people communicate faster. Many of today’s communities are not linked by a common place of residence. Moreover, a person can be a member of different communities, e.g., a local commune, a gardening association, an employment, housing or ethnic association, a women’s club, etc. So the person’s links with the community are mostly determined by the person himself. People can choose what community to join. This enables the appearance and development of “responsive communities”, which respond to the aspirations of their members and democratic society as a whole, and not only the will of power elites.

From a majoritarian outlook the communitarian approach is a threat to the individual, because policy will not be determined by the majority of individuals, but by the strongest and most influential communities, within which a minority may submit to a majority. While acknowledging this threat, responsive communitari­anism emphasizes the importance of limiting the power of the majority over the minority by the observance of individual rights, e.g., human rights, and by identifying certain areas of policy where such limitation is necessary. A return to traditional communities with their discrimination against minorities and women, totalitarian power structure and rigid stratification is viewed as absolutely unacceptable. Responsive communitari­anism, focusing on the positive development of society, rejects government regulation of ethical behavior, while defending government restrictions that are designed to enhance society’s responsibility for ethical behavior. Value-based benchmarks are formed through ethical dialogs between the community members (territorial, professional, religious) and associations of intellectuals, local social activists and other persons who determine public opinion. So, an ethical voice emerges, which enables people to behave in a socially responsible way (see Chapter 1.3.2 for more details).

The theory of responsive communitarianism promotes the idea that the community of people, if properly organized, is highly important for the development of society and protection of the environment. It thus makes a substantial positive contribution to environmental management by providing a theoretical grounding for greater attention to local communities and mechanisms for the joint use of power to prevent environmental degradation.

Responsive communitarianism and socio-economic theory extend the homo economicus model by the integration of neo-classical economics with the findings of sociology, anthropology and political science. It does this in three ways. First of all, when maximizing utility, people proceed from their own ideas of satisfaction and their own ethical values (assuming a socio-cultural context of their decision making) rather than from narrowly understood economic rationality. Secondly, people do not always act rationally, but are influenced by emotions and values, and their ability to reason and process information rationally is limited. Thirdly, the individual is not regarded as the center of the social universe but a member of a social group (or number of groups), so many aspects of his/her behavior must be explained at a collective level [344; 362; 363].

There is no obvious antagonism between neo-institutionalism, new economic sociology and socio-economics, and they offer potential for a new synthesis thanks to their methodologies, which answer to the requirements of environmental management. Socio-economics and neo-institutionalism are particularly close to one another, since, rather than opposing themselves to the neo-classical theory, they develop their approach into areas where neo-classical economics is inefficient. Neo-institutional economics studies the nature of institutions (including social and cultural institutions), while socio-economics elaborates an alternative theory of incentives, especially with regard to the value of work, a category that is deeply rooted in culture (people’s work is motivated by a range of incentives that are psychological, social and cultural as well as economic).

Having considered changes in the study of human behavior in the surrounding environment, converging trajectories of economic and social studies and the integration of economic and ethical approaches to human behavior, we can define the model of homo responsabilis as the essential tool of a socio-cultural methodology of environmental management.

Basic features of the homo responsabilis model and respective conceptual categories of socio-cultural methodology of environmental management

Our suggestion and our contribution to a socio-cultural methodology of environmental management, is adoption of the homo responsabilis model as the main tool for investigating issues of environmental management. The model integrates the features of homo economicus with the addition of features from the toolkits of other social sciences (sociology, ethics and psychology). Such a synthesis, based on the approaches described above, enables us to formulate the chief attributes and special features of the model and respective conceptual categories.


The behavioral model of homo responsabilis focuses on investigation of the environmental activity of the individual. Homo responsabilis has the ability, to a certain extent, to combine the individual goals of his economic activities with the ethical values of society. He regards the environmental norms, traditions and customs that exist in specific areas with their own natural and socio-cultural peculiarities as flexible and generally observed environmental rules, which make human behavior predictable. Readiness to comply with such rules, not just when he sees their rationale, but until he finds valid reasons not to comply with them or until there is a general loss of faith in the justice of these social institutions, is the chief condition for the efficient evolution of standards of environmental regulation. In imperfect markets, a sense of responsibility is what enhances the rationality and predictability of “partially rational” individuals.

The behavioral model of homo responsabilis is closest to the model of man in neo-institutional economics, which rejects the neo-classical view of man as a hyper-rational being, admitting that human knowledge is incomplete, human forecasting capabilities are limited and our ethics are far from perfect, which makes us capable of destructive behavior (including non-compliance with environmental norms and rules, attempts to gain advantage from the exploitation of shared resources, to redistribute a part of natural resource rent for our own benefit, etc.). However, application of the homo responsabilis model can block such negative aspects of human behavior as excessive irrationality, lack of concern for future generations and the preservation of nature, not only by means of the “invisible hand of the market”, which lacks efficiency in respect of environmental issues, but through the assumption of partial responsibility for compliance with ecological ethics, cultural norms and traditions, and voluntary collective work in social communities, all of which are essential to the model. Crucially, the behavioral model of homo responsabilis does not consider ethical constraints and value-based motives to be secondary to the priorities of economic rationality. This enables a broader understanding of what motivates environmental work, through broader understanding of what makes it valuable.

Homo responsabilis exists in a situation of scarcity of resources (quantitative or qualitative). He cannot satisfy all his needs simultaneously and has to make choices determined by two groups of factors: preferences and limitations. Preferences characterize the individual’s values and goals, his personal needs and wants, while limitations refer to objective opportunities and ethical constraints. The main limits for homo responsabilis (apart from his income and the prices of goods and services) are his ethical standards, shaped in the moral dialog between members of communities, whether territorial, professional, religious or others. So, in determining preferences and limitations of his actions in the environmental sphere, the individual uses several criteria, including satisfaction and ethical values. His environmental behavior is largely determined by his cultural identity and depends on his social status, his role in the social group, etc. Homo responsabilis evaluates the available options by judging how well their results meet his preferences, even though comparison of environmental alternatives poses a difficult problem (because of incompatibility between economic and environmental criteria). He is a member of a community or a number of communities (territorial, virtual, etc.). He is guided in making a choice by his own interests, which can also include the well-being of other people. It is important that the individual’s actions are determined by his own preferences, influenced, however, by the norms and rules that are accepted in society and in the specific community. So some aspects and results of his behavior must be explained at the level of communities.

The information available to homo responsabilis is usually limited: he is not aware of all possible actions and their ecological consequences, since human ability to acquire and process information is limited. Acquiring additional information is costly. One option is to postpone the decision and seek additional information. The choice in this case is rational to the extent that preference is given to the option (from the range of options) which is believed or expected to best meet the individual’s goals.


In order to use the homo responsabilis model as an instrument of the socio-cultural methodology of environmental management we need to specify the respective conceptual categories.

ENVIRONMENTAL INSTITUTIONS are the “rules of the game” in a society, a certain limiting framework that organizes relations between individuals taking account of environmental requirements. Such institutions are the products of collective efforts; they impose a set of motives inducing people to comply with environmental restrictions and regulations. They reduce uncertainty by structuring everyday life or, in other words, they determine or limit the range of alternatives available to each individual in his relations with the natural environment. Environmental institutions make the behavior of people and communities in the environmental sphere more predictable, reduce the probability of destructive behavior and conflicts caused thereby. They include formal institutions (written rules: laws, administrative regulations, etc.) and informal ones (implicit codes of behavior, customs, traditions, various social conventions). Changes in environmental institutions register how a society is progressing from the standpoint of its relations with the natural world and therefore serve as a key to understanding developmental issues. Import of environmental institutions refers to their borrowing or transfer for use in new conditions. Institutions can be imported in different ways: from abroad, from the country’s own history or from the history of other countries and nations as well as from theory13. Environmental institutions and groups of institutions are often called environmental mechanisms (tools), thus emphasizing the nature of their impact on environmental activity. For example, we can speak of environmental standardization, fines and claims, etc.

INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE is a certain set of institutions that provide matrixes of behavior and define limitations for the subjects who are generated by a system of interrelated business activities. A part of this system is constituted by environmental institutions regulating the relationships of individuals in the environmental sphere. By forming, governing, organizing and regulating various environmental institutions, the institutional structure ensures the systematic solution of all kinds of problems. The extent to which the institutional structure is complete and well-developed determines the vector and sustainability of communities at all levels of territorial organization.

INSTITUTIONAL ENVIRONMENT is constituted by the main political, social and legal norms which are the basis for production, exchange and consumption [249]. It is the widest possible range of institutions within which people and organizations apply institutional mechanisms. The institutional environment is not merely a collection of institutions, but determines the main vector of formation and selection of the most efficient institutions and the vector and speed of institutional changes. It should be remembered that individual behavior is not only determined by specific institutions but is formed under the influence of the institutional environment.

INSTITUTIONAL SPACE is the geographical area considered in the terms of neo-institutionalism and social economics and distinguished by its socio-cultural characteristics, presenting an aggregate of relations between geographical objects located in a specific territory and developing over time. With respect to the environmental, it is founded on the respective regulations and restrictions of economic and other activities, which enable institutional analysis of relationships in the course of environmental management. The territorial features of institutional space are manifested in the differences between territorial institutional systems. The institutional space does not create a unity; it is the outcome of interaction between specific territorial institutional matrixes. The uniting elements are the standardized institutions, including environmental institutions, which are involved in these matrices.

An INSTITUTIONAL MATRIX is a system of institutions that has taken shape over time in a specific territory. This matrix is an integral and comparatively stable geographical formation with a specific location on the surface of the Earth14. The socio-cultural features of a specific territory ensure the relative stability of institutional matrixes: even in a period of revolutionary changes they continue to reproduce the previous conditions for a certain time, because culture responds to conscious human efforts extremely slowly. Investigation of the constantly changing relationships among institutions is helpful in forecasting the development of individual communities in time and space. When analyzing environmental management, knowledge of institutional matrixes helps to identify deficient institutions and conflicts between institutions.

OWNERSHIP RIGHTS are a multitude of norms regulating access to scarce resources, including natural resources. From the point of view of individuals, ownership rights are “bundles of entitlements” giving access to resources. The transfer of such rights from one person to another (fully or partially) is a transaction, which may or may not be instantaneous, i.e., the transfer of the ownership rights may take time.Such transactions are contracts. A contract is an exchange of promises; it restricts the behavior of the parties and can be explicit or implicit. A contractual approach makes it possible to describe any organization (from a firm to a country) as a network of explicit and implicit contracts, as a certain contractual space.

An ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATION is a group of people united by the desire to achieve a certain environmental goal collectively.The concept of an environmental organization embraces political, economic, social, educational and other entities operating in the sphere of nature conservation. Such organizations can be created for specific purposes thanks to the existence of a range of environmental institutions, which provide the conditions for such organizations to operate, and environmental organizations, in turn, are the main agents of institutional environmental change. Institutional matrixes exert a decisive influence on how such organizations emerge and develop.

A COMMUNITY is an association of individuals having common goals [228]. In the context of “responsive communitarianism” a community is regarded as an association of individuals where the collective does not depersonalize but, while protecting the personality, provides the conditions for its material and spiritual realization. According to A. Etzioni, the “spirit of community” is what generates sets of values that counteract disintegration [364]. There are formal and informal communities, territorial and virtual, religious and non-religious associations of people. According to the theory of responsive communitarianism, individuals are neither absolutely free subjects, but nor are they completely determined by the communities they belong to. Including communities in the study of environmental management promotes understanding of the role and significance of formal and informal environmental institutions, their interaction within the existing institutional matrices.

WORK is the activity of purposeful change and transformation of the world and human consciousness. Such a definition is substantially different from the Marxist tradition, which treats work as a synonym for labor. ("the purposeful activity of man, in the course of which he acts upon nature by means of the instruments of labor and uses it to make the things to satisfy his needs” [257, p. 696]), or the neo-classical theory where the human being is considered (explicitly or implicitly) as labor power. A conception that treats working people as mere labor power is not useful in the environmental context. It is essential to recognize the multiplicity of incentives that cause people to work, as there are many other kinds of motivation (psychological, social and cultural), other than the need to earn money, which have decisive significance. Accordingly, jobs differ by the level of satisfaction they provide to the individuals who do them. Otherwise it would be difficult to understand what motivates social “green” activists, members of NCOs or scientists to do what they do.

This approach is close to the socioeconomic theory that distinguishes between work, which is hard and unpleasant, and work that provides inner rewards, giving the individual a meaningful and pleasing identification with a certain social group. Moreover, there is a close affinity between work and culture. The Protestant religious tradition regards work as a moral need. Other socio-cultural communities may have different interpretations of the notion of “work”.

A STIMULUS is an impetus to work, a driving force for behavior. According to the neo-classical approach, the main motive of productive work is the prospect of promotion or receiving other compensation. But it would be wrong to focus exclusively on monetary incentives with regard to environmental activity, where a much broader range of stimuli are at play.

A MORAL VOICE is a specific form of incentive that induces an individual to adhere to accepted values. People “hear” the moral voice; when a person who has ethical values, tries to forget them he will “hear” the voice persuading him to act properly. This is not to say that the individual will always follow the voice, but his behavior will be markedly affected. For example, the person who initially ignores the moral voice may later repent and engage in compensational behavior. The notion of the “moral voice” is based on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Applied to the socio-cultural methodology of environmental management, this notion is important for grounding the “socio-cultural pivot” of territories, i.e. the basic ethical guidelines for what is stable, sustainable and environmentally safe.

MORAL DIALOGS are direct verbal interaction of two or more people to ensure the interaction of their needs, their intentions to behave in compliance with the perceptions of good and evil that are relevant for various societies. A moral dialog occurs when a group chooses values that it will follow thereafter. It is relatively easy to show that moral dialogs occur constantly in well-organized societies with democratic traditions. Moral dialogs can occur between social groups and governments or on the international level, e.g., on issues of the environmental responsibility of nations. Naturally, the dialog is influenced by multiple non-normative considerations, although they are often expressed in normative requirements. Any dialog on environment protection is useful simply because people believe this problem to have an ethical character. One of the reasons why countries participate in the dialog on environment protection is that they are unwilling to appear irresponsible in the eyes of other nations. Moral dialogs are particularly important when they take place between cultures. Each community must acknowledge the right of other communities to be unique and to criticize it for its value perceptions. The global moral dialog to design universal values is currently proceeding very slowly and cultural values in different civilizations remain highly diverse.

PLACE is an aggregate of economic, social, cultural, spiritual, ecological and other features of a locality, embodied in a spatial and temporal identity. Such an approach to the notion of place is close to the category of “Dasein” suggested by Martin Heidegger [292]. The disintegration of traditional territorial communities caused by globalization and the growing number of virtual associations, which are not connected with any particular territory, call for reconsideration of environmental management as a whole. In this context it seems possible and necessary to examine both the general and the particular as part of a study of existing practices of natural resource use in each place and to identify the environmental institutions, which are relevant to that place.

Such are the main attributes of homo responsabilis and the main conceptual categories that help to describe environmental management adequately by applying socio-cultural methods. The use of such a model provides a new way of analyzing institutional changes and defining the characteristics of the institutional space.

Main characteristics of the institutional space in a socio-cultural methodology of environmental management

Homo responsabilis exists in a definite institutional space and acts in a world of high transaction costs, poorly defined ownership rights and unreliable contracts, i.e., in the real world, full of risks and uncertainty. The institutional space is a geographical space considered in terms of neo-institutionalism and socio-economics. It is distinguished by socio-cultural characteristics because it is an aggregate of relations between geographical objects located on a certain territory and developing in time. Institutional space in the environmental sphere is the constraint of individual choice in accordance with environmental constraints.

The combined effect of various social, cultural, political, economic and other factors at different levels of territorial organization gives rise to territorial institutional matrixes that differ from one another. The environmental institutions that exist and interact in territorial matrixes are constantly changing. Such interaction may be amicable or conflictual. It should be emphasized that the institutional space as such does not produce unity; such unity is produced by the interaction of specific territorial institutional matrixes. The main connecting elements are unified institutions (common to different territorial matrixes), including environmental institutions.

We can specify the main features of the model of institutional space by examining basic spatial and temporal development models and main approaches to analyzing the structure of the ontological space of history15.

Spatial and temporal development dynamics

The recent literature identifies two concepts of spatial and temporal development dynamics: the linear and the cyclical. They reflect different approaches to understanding the process of development as such, entailing different approaches to the analysis of environmental management.

THE LINEAR CONCEPT OF SOCIO-HISTORICAL CHANGE, despite reasonable criticism from the proponents of other approaches, is widely used in environmental work today (The Environmental Program of the Russian Federation, published in 1998, etc.). This is not accidental as the concept dominated social thinking in the late 19th century when most sociologists, economists and philosophers were engaged in defining “the laws of historical development” and discovering “historical trends”. The “law of three stages” of Auguste Compte was the exemplar of a linear concept, and it has been followed by many theories, in which the social process is presented as movement through several stages towards a goal: all nations begin their history from one level and finish at the stage of positivism, communism, democracy, anarchy, decay, post-industrial civilization or a unified environmentally-oriented society. As has been fairly remarked by Pitirim Sorokin, the linear concept is an eschatological interpretation of the socio-historical process [223]. In this approach environmental institutions are considered as developing towards universalism; the institutional space and context become more homogeneous and the environmental institutions of different territories reach a final stage where they interact non-confrontationally and complement one another.

CYCLICAL CONCEPTS OF SOCIO-HISTORICAL CHANGE are rarely applied to environmental management although the idea of cycles is commonly accepted to be inherent in nearly all spatial and temporary dynamics and the development process includes long and short stages or cycles. Two historians of two great ancient civilizations, Sima Qian in China and Polybius in ancient Greece, pointed out the discrete character of some processes. Polybius asserted a circularity in the life of society and the order of nature, where forms of government rotate, change one into another and then back again. The cyclical concept is present in the works of many philosophers and historians, including Machiavelli, Campanella, Vico and others. Campanella stressed the existence of cycles in politics and religion and Machiavelli mentioned two main kinds of cycles. The first is the cyclical sequence of forms of government, while the latter is described by the author as follows: “Going through endless transformations, all states usually pass from a state of order to disorder and then from the disorder to a new order” [134].

The most systematic expression of the cyclical concept of history and social change was given by Giambattista Vico in his New Science. According to Sorokin, Vico was the first thinker to examine the complex histories of different nations and try to distinguish what is constant, fundamental and inherent in each of them from what is transient, specific and local [223]. Vico tried to show a complex correlation between social phenomena as they pass through cycles, stressing that the different phenomena are closely related to each other at each of the stages. The cyclical concept was actively developed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries when a number of periodic and non-periodic historical cycles and rhythms were identified.

The cyclical character of many socio-historical processes should be taken into account in the study of institutional environmental changes. But we agree with Sorokin’s opinion that the existence of repeated identical cycles, whether in the evolution of the world or the history of mankind, has not been proved [223]. So, with our present level of knowledge, it would be premature to try and determine stable and eternal trends in the development of environmental institutions and we need to be cautious in using the categories of progress or regress, since these are value judgments. We can only speak of temporary trends in the development of environmental institutions, which may be followed by opposing trends, thus taking their place as part of a longer cycle, e.g., as changes in the form of power. The study of cyclical and rhythmical recurrence in the phenomena of environmental institutions (both formal and informal) opens up new opportunities for solving urgent environmental problems. The sphere of recurrent phenomena helps to understand regularities in environmental work: if there is no recurrence, no regularity can be observed and trustworthy generalizations are impossible. The sphere of recurrent phenomena is more suited to the investigation of causal relations and functional interdependence of various phenomena than the sphere of non-recurrent processes. Environmental management is a social action, and if its analysis helps to obtain at least approximately correct generalizations, it will have provided good service. As Sorokin said, we still know so little about the “mysterious” world of social events that any real knowledge, even approximate knowledge, is of great value [223].

Main approaches to the analysis of ontological space

The main approaches applied nowadays are the theory of civilizations, the theory of stages and formations, and the world-system approach. The first, CIVILIZATIONAL, approach does not view the ontological space as a single whole but distinguishes various civilizations. There is a rich literature in this sphere, developing the traditions of N. Danilevsky, O. Spengler, A. Toynbee, L.N. Gumilev, A. Kroeber, C. Quigley, Ph. Bagby, R.Coulborn, S. Eisenstadt, E. Harrington and others. Despite certain dissimilarities, e.g., on issues of the nature, identity and dynamics of civilizations, there is agreement on a large number of positions. The important point is that the two meanings of the term “civilization” have been separated: civilization as any specific human culture at a certain stage of its development; and civilization as the opposite of “barbarism”. A civilization (in the first sense) is a cultural whole, referring to the overall life style of peoples. It is a “culture” in the broadest sense of the word. A civilization encompasses the “values, norms, institutions and ways of thinking, to which the changing generations attribute primary importance” [330].

The most important element determining any civilization is its religion. The main civilizations in human history are tightly linked to the great world religions. A civilization is the widest grouping of people and widest scope of their cultural identification. Civilizations lack strictly defined boundaries, a precise beginning and end; cultures interact and overlap each other and the extent of their similarity and difference varies. Nevertheless, civilizations are entities full of meaning, they have a real existence, though the borders between them are not clear-cut. Civilizations wax and wane, but they are long-lasting; they evolve, adapt and are the most permanent human associations. Their unique essence is their long historical continuity. Scholars define the stages of their evolution in different ways, but all of the theories agree that civilizations go through a period of difficulties or conflicts, move on towards a universal state and finally decline and disintegrate [428; 445]. Civilizations are cultural rather than political unities; they may differ in their political composition and may include one or several political entities. Adherence to a particular civilization determines the general and the particular in institutional matrixes and environmental institutions.

Academics usually agree in identifying the major historical civilizations of history and those, which exist today, but there are different estimates of the number of civilizations that have existed in the past. C. Quigley spoke of 16 obvious historical civilizations and 8 most probable secondary civilizations; A. Toynbee named 23; O. Spengler identified 8 major civilizations; W. McNeill found 9 civilizations in human history as did Ph. Bagby, adding three more if the Japanese and Orthodox civilizations can be separated out from the Chinese and the Western. F. Braudel named 9 and Rostovani identified 7 major contemporary civilizations. In spite of these differences, Melko [414, p. 133] comes to the conclusion that there is “reasonable agreement” on the 12 most important civilizations, 7 of which have already disappeared (Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Cretan, Classical, Byzantine, Central American and Andes), while five still exist (Chinese, Japanese, Hindu, Muslim and Western). Some authors identify a separate Russian Orthodox civilization (distinguishing it from the parent Byzantine and the West Christian civilizations) as well as Latin American and African civilizations.

There are two main approaches to cognition of the ontological space from the standpoint of the civilizational approach: the method of analogy and the “challenge – response” concept. According to the former method, cultures are “living nature”, to the “organic logic” of which humans, a much as plants and animals, are subject [302]. Spengler, with his comparative morphology of cultures, uses the analogy approach as the key that can unlock the genetic code of any individual culture. The “challenge – response” concept suggested by Toynbee [239; 240] is useful in investigating the genesis of civilizations because absence of challenges means absence of stimuli for growth and development. This theory can also be used in studying environmental management. Mankind down the ages has sought and found responses to environment challenges by creating appropriate environmental institutions. There are numerous instances where institutional environmental solutions have caused human communities either to flourish or to become extinct.

The strong point of the civilization-oriented approach is its focus on specific features of each major civilization, its development and the respective environmental institutions. The approach accentuates the socio-cultural fundamentals of environmental management, helps to avoid a narrow Eurocentric view, makes use of the experience of world civilizations, and elucidates the general and the particular in the analysis of institutional matrixes and environmental institutions. At the same time, the civilizational approach casts doubt on the possibility of exchanges of environmental institutions between civilizations or at least considers such exchange to be very limited (because each imported institution must organically fit with the existing institutional matrixes in the particular civilization, to which it is imported).

The STAGE AND FORMATION APPROACH, stemming from the tradition established by G.Vico, Turgot, Condorcet, Saint-Simon, Herder and Hegel, has two main branches: the formational (Marx and Engels) [141] and that of evolutionary stages (Rostow, Bell, Toffler). The space of historic changes is supposed to be a single and vertically determined structure with Western European history at its center, having a perfect arrangement of layers with movement from the lower to the upper: from the pre-industrial to the post-industrial society (with certain variations of the names) according to Rostow, Bell, Toffler and Inozemtsev, or from the primitive to the communist society, according to Marx and others. The strong points of this ontology include the possibility of studying territorial-historical invariants of social evolution, technological and social progress, correlation between levels of development, and comparison between different patterns of development and regulation of society. However, this approach has a definite Eurocentric bias [65].

From the point of view of formational theory, environmental institutions and structures are to be analyzed as socio-economic formations16. The development pattern in this case is a spiral, where cycles and regular recurrence of events are combined with a unidirectional progressive trajectory. But the approach in terms of evolutionary stages views environmental institutions in relation to stages, phases and cycles of development, analyzing society’s polarization, the influence of scientific and technological progress, relations between the center and periphery and the resulting changes in environmental management. The theory in terms of evolutionary stages is particularly helpful in researching processes of economic globalization and their effect on institutional changes.

The WORLD-SYSTEM approach, which focuses on general geopolitical and geo-economic regularities in evolution, is a development of the two approaches described above. The theory of the world system originated in the works of F. Braudel [33], I. Wallerstein [455; 456] and A.G. Frank [371-373], and argues that all modern civilizations are to some extent included in the structure of a single global economic system. World-systems as sustainable entities not only unite the parts of different civilizations but play a systemically important role in their formation.

World systems are capable of self-development, are characterized by uniform rules of development and transformation, and tend to reconcile their institutional matrixes and institutions, including environmental institutions. The existing world-system has a long history, dating back (according to Wallerstein) to the “discovery” of America in 1492, about 500 years ago, and is Eurocentric in its essence [455]. But according to A.G. Frank, the present world system dates back at least five thousand years [372]. Frank and Barry Gills carried out successful identification and dating of cycles that antedate the last 500 years, pointing to political, economic and environmental cycles that stretch from 3000 BC to 1750 AD [373]. They have also shown that the center of the world system changes over time: it is currently the Euro-Atlantic civilization, while in earlier times it was focused on China and Egypt.

The world-system approach makes the accumulation of capital the main driving force of social evolution over the last few thousand years, and views relations between center and periphery as the crux of the world economy today, though not in all spheres of life. Periods of regional hegemony and competition alternate throughout the history of the world system. However, hegemony throughout the world system occurs extremely rarely, if ever. There occur long and short economic cycles, alternation of periods of growth and decline in economic development and other spheres of life, and their “regional” influence. So, in the “contemporary” world system, the process of capital accumulation, changes in the situation of the periphery and core of the world system, alternation of the stages of hegemony and competition are cyclical, and these changes take place in close interrelation [370].

From the standpoint of environmental management, the world-system approach provides the basis for intensive export of environmental institutions from economically developed to less developed countries. But the role and significance of environmental institutions that are common throughout the world-system are greatly differentiated depending primarily on socio-cultural conditions. Also, environmental institutions within territorial institutional matrixes are subject to the influence of long and short development cycles, which cannot fail to have an impact on their dynamics.

Even the most general review of the basic spatial and temporal development patterns and main approaches to understanding the structure of the ontological space of history shows that an analysis of environmental management based on the homo responsabilis model needs to enrich the civilizational approach with other methods, including those used by the theory of stages and formation. So the most promising approach (applied to the study of the institutional space and development of environmental institutions) seems to lie in the complementarity of those models, expressed particularly in adaptation of the traditions of the world-system theory to the solution of the problem. This enables a better understanding of the socio-cultural foundations of environmental institutions and avoids (as far as possible in the current situation) the narrow Eurocentric perception.

The basic prerequisite for investigating the development of environmental institutions from such positions is to recognize the existence of the world-system based on the concentration and movement of capital and having a particular institutional space where environmental institutions, both unified and specific to individual territories (with their peculiar socio-cultural conditions), can exist and develop. However, such a world system is not historically immutable and can change its center and periphery. Theoretically, analysis of the environmental aspect of the institutional space in the framework of the world-system is possible for a period of at least 5000 years, because the first environmental institutions appeared when man switched from a nomadic to a settled way of life.

One should take care, when studying institutional dynamics and the evolution of environmental institutions, to give due consideration to the cyclical character of the processes involved. Methodologically, it is only justified to speak of temporary trends in changes to environmental institutions. Any trend can give way to opposite trends within a short period of time, thus becoming part of a longer term cycle. Only the careful study of an increasing number of various recurrent phenomena in environmental work can bring us closer to understanding what is constant and what is merely local in the permanently changing historical processes, what is the rate of change of the various processes, and which relations between phenomena are random and which are truly causal. Diversity in time and direction, overlapping of the cycles create a complex chronological structure of the institutional space. Its hierarchical levels interact with the hierarchy of the spatial structure, where movement between stages occurs relative to the spread of new phenomena from centers to the periphery.

Therefore, it appears unproductive, when addressing long-term environmental problems, to overestimate the theoretical value of the study of historical tendencies, of attempts to identify the impact of short- and medium-term cycles in the contemporary economic system on the development of territorial environmental institutional matrixes, of examinations of cyclical and rhythmical recurrences in the environmental phenomena and determination of the spheres of recurrent phenomena. At the present level of knowledge, the main method for study of the institutional space in order to improve environmental management appears to be the “challenge – response” method, applied in the framework of the world-system approach and supplemented, when appropriate, by elements of the method of analogy.

Key characteristics of the socio-cultural methodology of environmental management

Convincing arguments exist today for reconsidering the fundamentals of environmental management. The most important of them are as follows: increasing awareness of the real threat of a global ecological catastrophe, growing globalization and post-industrial development trends; accelerating scientific and technological advance; acknowledgement of the multiplicity of possible futures; and diverse interpretation of environmental rationality. In rapidly changing circumstances, the impact of these factors on environmental work is so great that many of the tools of environmental regulation, which were efficient a generation ago, are no longer adequate to the new situation.

Today’s methods of environmental management must not only provide efficient environmental regulation at national and supranational levels, but also stimulate the involvement of people in this process, and that is impossible without the establishment of civil society institutions. This presupposes the humanization of management and greater attention to socio-cultural foundations of the environmental institutional changes that are taking place. In other words, in the new conditions the synthesis of humanization and reliance on the socio-cultural peculiarities of territories determines the main vector of institutional environmental changes, which makes it necessary to develop a socio-cultural methodology of environmental management.

Such a socio-cultural methodology takes the behavioral model of homo responsabilis as its basic research instrument. This choice is explained by a change in approaches to the study of human behavior in natural surroundings, the integration of economic and ethical approaches in the analysis of human activities, and alignment of the methods of economics and social sciences. Homo responsabilis can to a certain extent integrate individual goals of his economic activity with the ethical values of society. What is important is that the behavior model of homo responsabilis does not consider value-based motivation and ethical constraints in the environmental sphere to be secondary to the priorities of economic rationality. It is value-oriented behavior in imperfect market conditions that reduces subjectivity in human behavior, that makes actions more rational in a situation of incompleteness of the information, which is needed in order to judge the environmental effects of business. Such a model develops the methodological approaches of the theories of neo-institutionalism and socio-economics, taking account of the constraints imposed by the individual’s consciousness of the need to prevent a potential environmental catastrophe.

Using the homo responsabilis model we can obtain deeper insight into what motivates individuals to engage in environmental activities, because the scope of value-based motivation for work is expanded. The behavioral model of homo responsabilis also helps to clarify other conceptual categories, such as environmental institutional mechanisms, institutional structure, institutional context, institutional space, institutional matrix, ownership rights, organization, community, stimulus, moral voice, moral dialog, and place.

Acting in the environmental sphere, homo responsabilis cannot be outside time and space. Having investigated various approaches to the study of the spatial and temporal dynamics of development and structure of the ontological space with reference to environmental management, we can formulate the main characteristics of its model of institutional space. In the framework of the socio-cultural methodology of environmental management, the ontological space must be explored by focusing attention on institutional changes in the environmental sphere in the age of globalization and post-industrialism rather than by applying the systemic view of self-development. The most appropriate approach appears to be the perspective of the world-system theory, where the “challenge - response” methodology is to be combined, where necessary, with elements of the method of analogy. Efforts must be directed to finding answers to the main challenge of globalization in the sphere of environmental activity, i.e., the expansion of conflicts and transaction costs when unified environmental institutions are imported from more developed countries to regions with different socio-cultural conditions.

By using the homo responsabilis model in socio-cultural methodology, applying appropriate conceptual categories for the description of institutional changes and more precise methods of studying their spatial and temporal dynamics, scientists can identify the main trends of institutional change, understand the peculiarities of their development with reference to socio-economic processes in the globalizing world and determine new efficient mechanisms of environmental regulation.

It is important that the socio-cultural methodology of environmental management is taking shape through an interdisciplinary synthesis where attention is focused on the connections of the individual’s behavior, including his compliance with environmental restrictions and regulations, with its socio-cultural grounds. Here, rather than focusing on the description of the socio-cultural and value-oriented foundations of environmental institutions, the emphasis is laid on finding the main directions, forms and mechanisms, by which the foundations have impact on institutional changes in the environmental sphere.

Such an approach lets us abstract from the complex philosophical and scientific problem of how different cultures coexist. In developing mechanisms of environmental management, it is more important to recognize that each culture is entitled to develop independently by appreciating its own roots and traditions while at the same time evolving relative to the values and views, which give its bearers the possibility to live in harmony with the representatives of other cultures and with nature.

Our methodology places a particular emphasis on the juxtaposition pf global vs. local. Socio-cultural peculiarities are to be taken into account when defining development scenarios for territories and settlements and for their positioning in geo-economic space. Such are the prerequisites for developing a strategy of environment use and nature conservation, and for choosing the most appropriate tools for their implementation. Efficient environmental management requires the prevention of social tension and conflict settlement irrespective of the form of the conflict (passive resentment, covert opposition or active and open resistance).

The socio-cultural methodology of environmental management is particularly relevant for areas with multicultural populations. In choosing instruments of environmental policy and developing environmental programs it is imperative to avoid ethnic conflicts and pursue a multicultural policy. Otherwise, any efforts at environment protection may not only fail but may cause damage to countries and ethnic groups. It should be remembered that technocratic attempts at regulating the development of territories and settlements from environmental positions, while ignoring the socio-cultural peculiarities of those territories and settlements, may aggravate people’s fears for their future, and thus provoke conflicts, which block any possibility of environmental work.


The Origins and Development of Environmental Institutions

The creation and development of environmental institutions was driven by the need of protect the environment. The main types of such institutions are codes of ethics, laws, norms, rules, taboos, etc. which restrict or regulate the use of natural resources with a view to their conservation and rational consumption. Environmental institutions encourage resource users to comply with environmental restrictions on their economic activities and reduce uncertainty regarding the consequences of such activities. When people have confidence in the reliability and fairness of environmental norms and rules, they do not try to breach them in order to obtain additional income at the expense of the well-being of other persons or future generations. According to O. Williamson, institutions are needed by beings with limited rationality and flawed ethics [463].

The stability of human habits, behavior stereotypes and mental constructions entails that environmental institutions develop, as a rule, incrementally. Revolutionary changes and the destruction of institutional matrixes do sometimes occur. But continuity is never completely broken because informal institutions, embodied in traditions and codes of behavior, are much less affected by conscious human efforts than formal institutions.

Institutional analysis in the sphere of rational resource use and environment protection deals with the interaction of formal and informal environmental institutions, taking account of their territorial aspect, and identifies peculiarities and issues associated with the import of environmental institutions. Such analysis has greater explanatory power than other theoretical approaches in studying various trajectories of development of environment management, discovering the institutional causes of environmental crises and suggesting possible ways of overcoming them. Unfortunately, very little research has been carried out in the environmental sphere based on neo-institutional theory. This is not only due to the novelty of such approaches. The main reason, we believe, is the absence of a model for human behavior that is suited to the task of investigating environmental management.

Issues of environmental management are usually considered in the context of economic studies with their model of homo economicus. But the need to recognize the right of future generations to a favorable environment and the changes in the motivation of individuals, which will be necessary for this purpose, are not explained in economic theory, which views environmental work in terms of the additional costs that it involves for economic agents. The inclusion of ecological motivation for environmental work through “internalization of externalities”17, application of the theory of full economic value, etc., has relevance and theoretical appeal, but lacks efficiency because it takes us only a little way forward in the explanation of institutional changes in the real conditions of imperfect markets. This essential limitation of the existing approaches is either ignored or attempts are made to explain it by insufficient development of the market economy in Russia and the need to accelerate market transformations. The illusion that the free market will settle everything, including environmental issues, entails disregard of the problems of minimizing transaction costs, which arise when different methods of environmental regulation are employed in different socio-cultural contexts. This entails underestimation of the whole range of problems connected with regionalization and territorial aspects of environmental management.

As discussed in Chapter 1.1, the solution of this impasse depends on the application, in the study of institutional changes in environmental work, of the behavioral model of homo responsabilis who does not act in a relatively uniform institutional context, but in an institutional space that has its own socio-cultural characteristics. The institutional space in respect of the environment consists of restrictions and regulations on economic and other activities, which presuppose institutional analysis of the relationships that exist in the process of environmental management.

When analyzing the spatial and temporal dynamics of changes of the institutional space it is important to view such changes, not as a set of incompatible phenomena in the development of place, but from the viewpoint of world systems, applying the mechanism of “challenge – response”. In the case of Russia, the challenge is the accelerating process of and the search for ways of reaching the post-industrial stage of development. These are the trends that have to determine the priorities for improving environmental management. At the current stage of development of the neo-institutional theory we must be reconciled to insufficient formalization of results and the impossibility of quantitative analysis in institutional studies18. This also explains the difficulty of applying cartographic methods in studies of the institutional space.

Main features of informal and formal environmental institutions

Environmental restrictions have a dual nature. They are intrinsically objective, but at the same time they are largely determined by the socio-cultural specifics of human communities living in particular territories. Accordingly, environmental institutions are, on the one hand, ontologically defined and, on the other hand, sociologically determined. So the principal task of environmental institutions is to reduce the uncertainty that arises from the impossibility of full internalization of externalities caused by the impact of individuals on the environment. Society accomplishes that task by establishing environmental restrictions and by creating a sustainable institutional structure for interactions between economic agents in the environmental sphere.

Environmental institutions are not today’s invention. They emerged when man became aware of scarcity of natural resources available for use. The first social prohibitions existed as long ago as the Upper Paleolithic age [84, p. 43] although environmental restrictions on the use of natural resources were only properly established in the Mesolithic period. They were usually implemented in the form of religious taboos that served to make the use of natural resources more rational, in accordance with the ecological capacity of the specific territory (in current terminology). As social development progressed (transition to a settled way of life), environmental restrictions were institutionalized, first in the form of unwritten norms and rules, before being formalized in decrees, codes, laws and finally, in international agreements. Gradually, as different levels of territorial organization acquired relatively stable institutional matrixes reflecting their natural, social, cultural and other features, environmental institutions became integral components of such organizations. Environmental institutions can be found in the history of practically all ancient peoples (the Hammurapi code, ancient Egyptian laws, etc.) because the natural resources at the disposal of settled territorial communities are limited and must be used sparingly for the sake of common survival.

Environmental institutions are among the most sustainable structures of human interaction, and their existence is usually related to a set of cultural patterns of behavior and action, which are “embodied” in a specific society. Socio-cultural traditions and customs reflecting the geographical features of territories, biological and other knowledge accumulated by the community, connect the past and the present and are the key to understanding territorially determined methods of environmental management and their historical development.

INFORMAL ENVIRONMENTAL INSTITUTIONS are expressed in customs, traditions, religious norms and rules that limit and regulate human impact on the environment. They take shape without conscious intention on anybody’s part, as a side effect of the interaction of many people pursuing their own interests19. The contents of informal rules defy accurate description as does the role they play in the development of any community. Nevertheless, they largely determine the range of choices which are available in decision-making.

In Russia the importance of due attention to environmental traditions in the interaction between society and nature has been emphasized Yu.N. Kurazhkovsky [113], V.A.Anuchin [11], L.N. Gumilev [64], V.S. Zhegulin [78] and others. But the predominant trend in environmental management in Russia today is quite the opposite: informal environmental institutions are increasingly underestimated and everything related to the socio-cultural peculiarities of regions and places is neglected in favor of unified (universal) institutions. This trend is reflected in the content and structure of environmental programs developed in Russia at both federal and regional levels and in state funding priorities for respective research at the end of the 20th century. The outcomes of such policy came as an unpleasant surprise to Government and to some environmental organizations, as a number of special-purpose programs failed due to their rejection by the general public and business. For example, the $30 million Upper Volga environmental program, funded by the World Bank, came to an instant halt in the late 1990s as soon as central financing stopped, largely because the program initiators ignored the socio-cultural features of the region, did not involve local people in conservation efforts, neglected to draw upon centuries-old experience of environmental management and failed to devise mechanisms for reconciling the interests of different social groups at local level. By contrast, a low-cost program “Danilov, Green Town for Women and Children”20 that molded itself to the cultural traditions of this small town in Yaroslavl Region and successfully combined existing informal institutions with the German experience of social action in the environmental sphere, continued to function with the support of local people for several years after its official end-date in 1996 [219].

A good definition of the fundamentals of informal institutions was offered by D. North: “They emerge out of the information transmitted by social mechanisms and are part of the heritage which we call culture…. The cultural filter provides continuity, so that informal solutions to problems of exchange, which were discovered in the past, carry over into the present and make those informal constraints important sources of continuity in long-run societal change” [166, p. 57]. Being a part of culture, informal environmental institutions are not acquired biologically: each generation reproduces and transmits them to the generation that comes after, and this is the basis of socialization. The adoption of values, norms and rules produces socio-cultural regulation of an individual’s behavior.

Informal institutions depend on the geographical conditions of specific territories because of the geographical nature of the cultural environment itself. The idea that each national culture is dependent on the environment (place) where it developed was universally recognized over a century ago [100; 155]. The geographical peculiarities of each place influence formal institutions indirectly through culture by creating informal environmental institutions, which then have impact on formal institutions and operate with them to regulate the life of society.

The influence of culture on development processes and on the choice of management methods is significant for both urban [343] and rural communities [97]. However, while informal relations in towns and cities tend to become formalized, their impact on the management process in rural areas is broader and more pronounced. Studies of how environmental priorities are selected by the main resource administrators in districts of Yaroslavl Region [198] found that people in the less developed north-western districts attached greater importance to the revival of spiritual values and environmental culture, associating them with traditions of rational resource use.

An important feature of informal environmental institutions is that they originate from specific patterns of human behavior and experience. Each society, in the course of its history, has selected its own set of informal environmental institutions. They may be hardly discernible from the position of other cultures or, at least, their role is unclear to those who come from a background of foreign traditions and customs. It is a fact that examples of disrespect and lack of understanding of foreign environmental traditions, particularly those of indigenous peoples on the part of colonizers, are more numerous than examples of respect.

Geographically determined differences between informal environmental institutions must be taken into account if the efficiency of conservation activities (development of programs, choice and adaptation of the mechanisms of public regulation, etc.) is to be improved. A large range of values must be taken into consideration: distribution of social roles and their status; criteria of economic and social success and accomplishments; respect for old age and seniority; the role of traditional authorities and community leaders; political traditions (democratic or autocratic, individualistic or collectivist); prevalence of spiritual or material values; sense of duty to the family, community and ethnic group; the nature of socialization and feedback, assessment and criticism; the significance of religion in social life and its influence on economic life; attitude to other cultures, religions, ethnic groups and minorities; attitude to social, technological and other changes; and the concept of time [261].

It is just as important to identify features common to all cultures, i.e., cultural universals which can bring together various methods of environmental regulation. As of today, more than 60 such universals have been determined, which are inherent to the majority of cultures. They include: the limitation of consumption, joint work, dance, education, gift giving, hospitality, the prohibition of incest, language, religious rites, etc. Most traditions forbid murder and condemn lying; no culture approves of suffering; all cultures, albeit in a different way, promote satisfaction of certain physiological, social and psychological needs.

Each culture has some form of environmental restrictions and regulation of human activities, which, in the absence of self-restraint, presuppose external coercion. But the approaches used by different communities to coercion in the conflict situations, which inevitably arise during the distribution of scarce resources, differ greatly [212]. For example, according to Roberte, [432, p. 157], some communities prefer peaceful settlement to conflicts over access rights to natural resources and land use: e.g., the Zuni people in North America and Mbuti people in the Congo, who live by hunting and gathering, consider that a true man is one who is able to avoid quarrels. Others (e.g., the Ndembu in Zambia) often resort to vengeance and conflict is a significant part of their political and social life.

Several types of conflict related to the development of cultures and their respective informal institutions are identified: anomie, cultural lag and alien impact. Anomie is a breakdown of cultural unity due to the lack of clearly defined social norms. Cultural disintegration, particularly the instability of religious and family values, which are the most important informal institutions, may lead to an upsurge of crime and destructive behavior. Cultural lag occurs when changes in material life outrun transformation of the non-material culture and its inherent informal institutions. Alien impact can occur when new (usually formal) institutions are imported to a local setting.

Informal environmental institutions arise as a means of coordinating recurrent forms of human interaction. They are socially sanctioned behavioral norms and standards that are internally binding on an individual. Even without written environmental rules, social communities can generate highly stable informal environmental institutions. For instance, people in Central Russia are reluctant to apply to court in order to settle disputes related to water or land use, preferring to settle such matters through informal mechanisms. Informal environmental institutions link the natural conditions of particular territories with environmental management via the mediation of culture. Their role is very important in traditional societies where changes happen slowly and relatively stable institutional matrixes are in place. Informal institutions are what provide historical continuity in development. D. North has written that the Russian revolution of 1917 was probably the most decisive reshaping of an entire institutional societal structure ever experienced in human history. But even that revolution could not abolish previous customs, habits and behavior standards, which continued to persist long after 1917 [166]. Informal institutions complement formal ones smoothly in the course of evolutionary changes, but conflicts are bound to occur at times of revolutionary transformation and when the stability of institutional matrixes is lost.

The systemic crisis, which took place in Russia in the late 20th century, was related mostly to institutional problems of the transition to a post-industrial society, or to be more precise, to the impossibility of enabling such transition in the framework of the “contribution-distribution” institutional matrixes that have been traditional through long periods of Russian history (see Chapter 2.3) and the need to import formal institutions from the most economically developed countries. This logic made it particularly hard to preserve the stability of informal institutions. Recent studies and broad discussions have shown that any changes that aim to create a post-industrial society in Russia depend on a new socio-cultural identification that has major impacts on the cultural core21.

Such changes cannot be rapid and any attempts to speed them up are extremely dangerous because it is impossible to accurately predict the vector of change of the value core under the influence of external factors (an approach that sets out to influence values can sometimes achieve the exact opposite of what was intended). The most important task is to seek mechanisms of interaction between cultures, ensuring their equality and mutual preparedness for changes to their own cultural traditions. In other words, people should be ready to receive the foreign experience of environmental work in a positive way, even if symbiosis is impossible (as in the case of environmental traditions of indigenous peoples). Exception to this rule should naturally be made in the case of cultural traditions that are contrary to the common values of human survival.

FORMAL ENVIRONMENTAL INSTITUTIONS differ from informal ones by the way they are manifested. For example, environmental prohibitions that exist in the form of unwritten tribal rules differ from modern constitutions, laws, etc., manly by the greater complexity of the former. Such complexity accrues as society develops. Legal systems were created to resolve increasingly complex conflicts and disputes, entailing expansion of the scope of application of formal rules. Formal environmental institutions are established and consciously maintained by government, by the power of the state. They have a hierarchical structure (e.g., Constitution – law – decree – regulation, etc.). In contrast to informal rules, formal institutions are subject to revolutionary changes.

Contemporary literature on environmental management identifies about 40 formal environmental institutions, which can be found in the institutional matrixes of most countries in the world and therefore deserve to be called (with some latitude) unified institutions. Fig. 2.1 presents the main such formal institutions. A brief description of them, including expert opinion on the feasibility of their application in Russia, is given in Tables 2.1-2.3. Each institution has its advantages and disadvantages, vector and range of action; they are used in different combinations depending on the specific features of territorial matrixes.

Main formal environmental institutions (according to L. Wicke, 1991, p. 69)
Fig. 2.1. Main formal environmental institutions (according to L. Wicke, 1991, p. 69)

Table 2.1. Comparative characteristics of formal non-fiscal environmental institutions

Name Description Prevalence worldwide Advantages Disadvantages Potential application in modern Russia
1 2 3 4 5 6
Mandatory environmental regulations for restricting economic activities. Environmental Standards (ISO 14000, etc.) Of fundamental importance. At present restrictions exist on: various kinds of environment pollution; arrangements for natural resource use in specific territories (incl. specially protected areas); production volumes; production processes; use of harmful inputs; environmental characteristics of products (services). Widely used in developed economies Major advantages. Often used as a basis for developing other fiscal and non-fiscal instruments of environmental policy Not specific enough. Difficult to monitor compliance. Difficult to determine permissible impact on environmental systems. Risk of personal bias in decision-making by public officials. Limited, since strict sanitary-epidemiological and biological norms cannot take account of various cultural and socio-economic specifics of Russian regions. Can be efficiently used by companies oriented to exports .
Changing the legal framework to take account of environmental factor Consideration of environmental factors in legislative and regulatory documents in all sectors. Widely used in developed economies. Universally applicable for regulating all resource users. Special secondary regulations are needed in order to implement legislative requirements. A unified ecosystem approach is difficult to follow when making legislation. Limited due to the lack of legal precedents of successful application of existing legislation for meeting environmental targets.
Broad cooperation between economic entities Cooperation is effected in two ways: industry-wide agreements; inter-industry territorial agreements Growing popularity in recent years Good results from both industry-wide and inter-industry cooperation Difficult to organize. Governments lack efficient means of sanctioning entities that fail to keep agreements. Environmental targets are often unambitious. Used rarely and insufficiently due to the absence of efficient institutions ensuring compliance.
Stimulating resource users to show due consideration for the environment Influencing the market position of resource users by providing public non-financial support for their environmental efforts, e.g., by raising awareness of producers and consumers of collective and individual hazards (to promote environmental consciousness), of production and consumption specifics; granting trademarks, etc. Mostly used in developed economies with sustainable democratic traditions, advanced environmental legislation and strong market positions. Highly important for enhancing the role of the general public in solving environmental problems, promoting environmental social partnership between consumers and producers; and preventing monopolization and corrupt practice. May encourage inducements to certain social groups, manipulating public opinion for political or competitive purposes. Excellent prospects if the government purposefully supports environmental efforts by the general public and NCOs; a well-designed action plan would be required.
Granting privileges to business entities, which use environment-friendly products and technologies Gives environmental protection a consumer aspect. Attaches economic utility to environmental work, encourages new priorities in economic decision-making. Recently popular in countries with a market economy Environmental protection becomes profitable and related products are competitive as it becomes more expensive to make products that are not environment friendly No benefits in export-oriented operations High potential in case of strong domestic demand for environmentally clean products and services. Otherwise, implementation of this institution may promote export of capital from the country (environmentally clean raw materials will be exported, “dirty” technologies will be imported, etc.)
Territory-specific environmental planning Resource users are not told what they can do but what they cannot do in specific conditions. Territorial planning can be general (area organization, site development, landscape plans) or special (logistics, resource distribution, waste distribution, etc.). Territorial layout of a planned facility enables its environmental audit. Widely used throughout the world Can only be applied for planning “what cannot be done”, when limits of required state protection of the environment are established and the interests of the general public and business are reconciled. Excessive planning results in decline of economic activity by smothering the market and entrepreneurial freedom Limited because the associated command-administrative methods of planning are incompatible with Russia’s current needs for economic transformation. Adequate state policy for the inclusion of market factors in territorial planning is necessary in order to make the institution effective.

Table 2.2.Comparative characteristics of formal non-fiscal environmental institutions related to government revenues



Prevalence worldwide



Potential application in modern Russia







Licensing (certification) of natural resource use

Selling licenses for the right to cause various environment impacts (emissions) and use resources

Used in most countries

Maximum environment load is set politically; levels of human impact are adjusted to the environmental tolerance of a territory; a degree of market regulation; relative simplicity; the resource user has the choice either to reduce emissions or buy a license; environmental standards can be tightened by a buyout of licenses.

High costs of monitoring; difficult to register trans-border transfer; moral costs (the right to pollute nature is sold by auction); the rights of resource-users who failed to participate in the initial license auction are breached;

interests of SMEs are not always consulted; possible abuse of power by public authorities;

potential government monopolization through buying up, selling or accumulation of licenses.

Promising, if there is further liberalization of the national economy and broader participation of Russia in global markets for environmental resources (from petroleum to international trading of СО2 emission rights).

Environmental taxes

Flexible tax policy (tax benefits, raising existing tax rates or introducing new ones) stimulates resource users to engage in resource efficient activities.

Used in most countries

Encouraging resource users to be more environment-oriented.

Difficult to determine the consequences of tax policy

(results of tax cuts, tax rises or introduction of new taxes) .

Good potential. However, under existing environmental tax laws, the institution mainly promotes high profits from resource exports and is not helping to preserve environmental capital for future generations of Russians.

Table 2.3. Comparative characteristics of formal fiscal environmental institutions funded by government



Prevalence worldwide



Potential application in modern Russia







Environmental special-purpose investments

Long-term investments in the construction and operation of major environmental facilities (purification plants, financing waste disposal, etc.) in order to improve the state of the environment.

Widely used throughout the world

Important environmental facilities can be created, for which private investments are unavailable.

The burden of financing is passed from resource users to taxpayers; resource users are less interested in reducing harmful effects on the environment;

inefficient use of public funds.


In practice, short-term environmental investments predominate, which is explained by low cost-effectiveness of capital-intensive, long-term environmental investments and the difficult financial situation

Public management of finances

Inclusion of financing for environmental measures in state budget programs

Used everywhere

Environmental orientation of the economy is enhanced

Difficult to single out the environmental component and determine required public expenditure.

Broad opportunities due to need to liberalize the economy and upcoming accession to the World Trade Organization.

State budget funding of events related to the environment

Public investment in projects which are not top-priority but have positive environmental impact.

Used everywhere

Promotes greater investment in solving environmental problems, well-balanced development of territories with due regard for the environmental factor.

Difficult to single out the environmental component and justify the additional expenditure.

Promising because the institution helps to optimize investment flows judged by their environmental and economic efficiency,

which ultimately leads to optimization of environmental costs.

Environment-oriented public employment policy

Measures to expand the scope of environmentally-oriented jobs, which are partially or fully financed by public employment agencies. Implemented in the form of special programs aimed at preserving and creating jobs.

All countries use the institution as a double-purpose tool to reduce unemployment and solve environmental problems.

Lowering the unemployment rate; raising additional funds and labor resources to carry out top-priority environmental work.

Difficult to choose appropriate facilities, organize work, provide awareness building.

High potential, especially in regions with high unemployment rates, but requires major preparatory work.

Direct stimulation of environment-oriented private business initiatives

Financial compensation for additional costs due to manufacturing eco-friendly goods and using eco-friendly production methods

Wide use

The effect is impressive if used in combination with other fiscal instruments of environmental policy.

As a protectionist measure, it encourages corruption and expansion of the bureaucracy.

Potential is limited at present due to low demand for environmentally clean products and services from domestic consumers.

Multiple government support for environmental R&D

Public financing of scientific research, study of territories, technological advance in the sphere of nature protection and rational utilization of natural resources.

Used everywhere

Important for development of fundamental knowledge and intensive research to achieve better knowledge of territories.

Risk of personal bias in allocating funds.

Good potential in case of growth of investments in the real sector of the national economy.

Limited at present due to the difficult economic situation and budget deficit.

Public financing of environmental establishments

Financing of government and non-government establishments and individuals participating in the implementation of eco-policy.

Used everywhere

The only means for financing government environmental entities

Environmental government entities may turn into a branch of the economy with narrow departmental interests.

Limited. A source of additional costs, which are not remunerated, but inevitable for political reasons.

The significance of formal environmental institutions has greatly increased as globalization has progressed. Today in Russia we are seeing intensive import (borrowing) of unified formal environmental institutions, primarily from the developed countries of the West.

Environmental institutional changes and the import of institutions

Environmental institutions are always developing under the influence, mainly, of shifts in the structure of relative prices and of ideology, which determine people’s preferences22. This reflects the fact that environmental activity is oriented to the interests of future generations and is therefore tied closely to the political and spiritual spheres of human life. Relative price structures in the natural resource sector have particularly large impact on environmental institutions. Inevitably, the strongest groups lobbying against environmental regulation come from the dirtiest industries, mainly engaged in extracting and primary processing of raw materials. So focusing public attention on socially important environmental values and formalization of these positions through legislation, with the help of political parties and organizations, is the best way to achieve positive institutional changes.

Environmental institutional changes depend less on ordinary people than on decisions made on a daily basis by community and organization leaders, by influential individuals and resource managers23, who resolve to make certain changes in the existing institutional matrixes. In practice, due to various restrictions (ethical, informational, etc.) the resource manager, when addressing environmental issues, cannot embrace the whole spectrum of potential environmental options. His choice of the most rational option is determined by the scope of his awareness and various constraining factors. Thought stereotypes and personal, value-based perceptions make it impossible for him to look at all possible options, or even to consider many of them in an unbiased way.

Environmental institutions are built by nature conservation organizations. Since environmental institutions are decisive for the range of opportunities that people have at their disposal, the organizations that are set up for regulation of environmental matters tend to take advantage of those opportunities and, as they develop, start to change the institutions to match their own interests. So environmental organizations can encourage both positive and negative institutional development. World history provides many examples of success and failure of environmental institutional changes and environmental organizations. For example, when it became urgent to take action to save the Great Lakes in America, the decisive factors for success were changes to nature conservation standards and rules, encouragement of innovative action by local people and increased efficiency of respective environmental organizations. All of these factor together enable goals to be achieved with minimum transaction costs: the quality of the water in the Great lakes was improved without damage to rates of economic growth and labor productivity. The structural reorganization that was required led to the development of environmental technologies, created new jobs and new political and social organizations, and improved the system of ecological education.

If a society is passive and its public environmental policy is weak, environmental organizations will tend to pursue self-development and their own survival: their priorities will be limited to obtaining additional rights to use natural and environmental rent by monopolizing markets for natural resources and environment-oriented products and services. As a result, the choice of efficient environmental solutions is narrowed, and the environmental unit costs for business are increased because a large part of these costs are redistributed to reinforce environmental organizations and raise the real earnings of their personnel. Environmental organizations derive technical and material benefits, but this is at the expense of the general efficiency of environmental work and social productivity, so the development of basic infrastructure slows down and potential investors lose interest. Worst of all, environmental education is degraded as professional qualifications cease to be the main condition for obtaining contracts in a monopolized market for environmental goods and services. Specialized personnel of resource-using entities have no incentive for skills improvement because their knowledge and capabilities do not affect the level of environmental costs of their entity The most valuable quality of the professionals employed by environmental departments at companies becomes their ability to make informal agreements with the staff of environmental authorities.


Environmental institutions are a part of territorial institutional matrixes. When revolutionary breakdowns occur, such institutions are radically transformed or replaced by the new (imported) ones. The process of importation is characterized by its independence from the preceding development trajectory, relative abruptness of the transformation, potential for targeted adjustment of the characteristics of imported institutions, high risks, and unpredictable social, economic and political consequences.

Import of environmental institutions (usually formal institutions) implies the creation of new links within territorial institutional matrixes and destruction of old ones. In most cases links with informal institutions are broken. Some informal institutions may be lost, while others may be used to support the new institutions. Informal institutions not only affect the operation of the imported institutions, but can sometimes change their characteristics and orientation.

Import of institutions is not unique to the present day, but has been experienced by most nations in different periods of their history [33; 372; 453]. It usually occurs due to the expansion of resource markets, which requires exchange between societies of their technologies and, to some extent, of their experience of nature conservation. The export of natural resources enabled ancient economies to develop, but at the same time increased the burden on territories where extraction took place, leading to environmental problems. There have been instances in many history where the decline of a civilization and environmental disasters were caused by local depletion of natural resources. The import of environmental institutions has also been driven by rapidly expanding exchange of biodiversity elements as contacts between nations have become more intensive: by moving around and covering long distances, people transferred various species of plants, animals, microorganisms, diseases and other life forms and introduced them to new soils and new populations. American corn, potatoes, cocoa and tobacco have found their way to every continent since the “discovery” of America, while European wheat, wines and cattle came to the Americas. At the same time, imported diseases ravaged populations, which had not previously been exposed to lethal pathogens. The new problems, associated with these good and bad imports, were addressed by importing respective environmental experience from foreign countries.

As the world economy develops and technological advance accelerates, environmental problems are globalized and become universal, but at the same time they are increasingly shifted to the periphery of the world economic system (transfer of dirty manufacturing processes, removal of waste to developing countries, etc.). Having recognized the global character of environmental problems and inexpediency of further environmental colonialism, the world’s economic centers began to develop unified environmental institutions (international agreements, UN resolutions, ISO 14000 standards, etc.). As such unified institutions have spread they have interacted with institutions that are already in place in the recipient countries, adapting to the previously established institutional territorial matrices.

Intensive importation of institutions has been part and parcel of modernization processes throughout Russian history. After technology-based civilization became dominant in the countries commonly termed the “West” (England, Holland, France, the USA, Italy, etc.) those countries began to export their values, culture and life-style to the semi-periphery and periphery of the world-economy: the East, Russia, Latin America and Africa.

Traditional societies were unable to withstand competition from technology-based civilization. Many of them disappeared, while Russia embarked on the road of modernization in order to retain its independence. This was “catch-up growth” that relied on borrowed western technologies and on the installation of certain elements of an alien culture, which were inserted into traditional culture and inevitably led to institutional changes. The foreign imports were not limited to formal institutions, but also included many that were informal. Such a path was not specific to Russia alone. Countries that followed it successfully are now among the world’s most developed economies, while at the same time retaining some aspects of their traditional identity (e.g., Japan, began to implement westernizing reforms in the mid-19th century and countries of the Asia-Pacific region, such as South Korea, achieved major technology breakthroughs in the second half of the 20th century).

The biggest catch-up modernizations in Russian history were the reforms of Peter I and Alexander II, the October Revolution of 1917 and the industrialization, which followed. Each of them was preceded by a major development lag compared with the West and by defeats in wars (the war against Sweden, the Crimean war, the war against Japan and Russian failures at the beginning of WWI). Each of the catch-up modernizations was accompanied by: 1) opposition to western innovations, particularly among the peasantry, which clung to traditional life styles and community structures; 2) autocratic approaches to implementing the reforms; 3) enormous social pressure, leading to the impoverishment of a large part of the population, particularly in the countryside.

A new cycle was set off by Russia’s lag of the 1970s when the developed economies of the West and the East experienced scientific and technological revolutions that enabled transition to an information-oriented, post-industrial society. Russia was unprepared for such transition and faced particularly daunting challenges, as it needed to reform its basic institutional matrix and reconsider the role of people. coercive mobilization was not feasible as a way of implementing the reforms that were needed, since precisely the suppression of freedom and orientation to ideological sterility, together with economic factors (inflexibility of the centralized planned economy), are what had led to Russia’s lag in information technologies (increasingly evident in the 1980s) and failure to join the scientific and technological revolution of the period. Entering the post-industrial civilization is not just a matter of individual high-tech breakthroughs but depends on overall technological development where the application in various fields of IT and resource- and power-efficient technologies bring the economy and social governance to a new, systemic level of quality. In this new context a country’s success and status in the world depend on the health of every cell of the society, its systemic reorganization at the micro-level to achieve the development and efficient utilization of human potential [233]. This makes the import of institutions, including those of rational resource use and protection of the environment, relevant today as never before. But it has to be carried out differently from the mobilization scenarios that have been typical of Russia in the past. Transition to the post-industrial stage of civilization depends on involving the general public in social management and innovation, and that requires focus on local development and the socio-cultural specifics of territories. In other words, a modernization initiative “from the top down” without adequate support “from below” cannot succeed, as evidenced by the entire historical experience of the Russian state.

There are good grounds for regarding successful transition to the post-industrial society as the major criterion for the efficiency of institutional changes, particular in the spheres that have to meet the needs of both present and future generations in access to natural resources and a healthy environment. This entails a critical reconsideration of the historically formed practice of modernization efforts in Russia, a fresh look at methods of importing environmental institutions, which have proved efficient in other socio-cultural conditions, as well as an extension of the range of potential sources of institutional imports.


The contemporary literature [172] distinguishes several types of imports of institutions: from foreign experience (as a rule, from the most developed economies); from a country’s own history; from the history of other countries; and from theory. We will look in more detail at these types with special reference to environmental institutions.

Import from foreign experience is the most widespread type today because the globalized world makes it very difficult for socio-cultural communities and countries to apply environmental institutions unilaterally, in isolation from the world economic system. The solution of environmental problems depends on the alignment of formal environmental institutions on an international basis. Countries nowadays have the opportunity to choose models of environmental institutions that have been tried and tested in different conditions. There is even a degree of competition between countries that export institutions: each of them benefits from exporting its own institutions because this will lead to the creation of a familiar institutional context in the recipient-country, so that firms of the original country will feel at home on new markets.

There are a number of advantages in importing environmental institutions from foreign experience: a positive “track record” (proven efficiency); possibility of detailed analysis of the imported institution in the exporting country, thereby reducing costs of the import; and “after-sale servicing” (consultations on issues that arise in the course of the importation). However, there are also a number of disadvantages: the imported institution may not fit organically into the socio-cultural context of the receiving country; differences in the institutional matrixes (especially informal), of the donor and recipient can lead to conflicts and additional transaction costs; and there may be a psychological rejection of the very idea of the import in a certain section of society in the receiving country. For example, the attempt to transfer the German experience of domestic waste sorting and recovery ("Gruene Punkt") to other countries, e.g., to Italy, foundered on the reluctance of people to sort garbage at home, even under the pressure of the law. The transfer in the early 19th century of the provisions of the US Constitution, almost unaltered, to the Latin American countries, which had a different institutional structure, led to negative results [166, pp. 132; 335]. Such advantages and disadvantages of the import of institutions from other countries determine their respective benefits and costs. Examples of such imports in Russia (both successful and failed) include new economic approaches to environmental regulation, such as payments for pollution, eco-audit, eco-insurance, international ISO 14000 standards, etc.

The import of institutions from a country’s own history occurs only rarely, even though it has several features that are highly positive for environmental activities. Imports from the past are well suited to take account of the geographical features of specific territories, as the study of how environmental problems were addressed in the past may remind policy makers of an approach to institutional changes that had been almost forgotten. This may be particularly important for communities that have retained elements of traditional culture and where institutional change entails reform of institutional matrixes with unpredictable results. A particular advantage of importation from history is that the imported institutions are not rejected by the local population. One positive example, from an environmental point of view, is the revival of restrictions and regulations connected with religion. The preservation of oak groves in the Volga republic of Mari El, in areas with an indigenous population, is related to traditions of pantheism.

However, it would be wrong to overestimate the positive psychological aspects of importing from history, since such imports may lead to conflicts within existing territorial institutional matrixes. Other downsides of importing environmental institutions from a country’s own history include: impossibility of checking and analyzing how the imported institutions will function in the present; potential bias in assessing their efficiency (the effect of “rose-tinted spectacles” in perception of the past; possible lack of proper historical research, etc.); and the absence of factors that could reduce the economic costs of importation. In all, the use of environmental institutions from a country’s own history must be undertaken with great care. For example, the problem of limiting and regulating the catch of shallow-water cisco in Pleshcheyevo Lake (Yaroslavl Region) in order to ensure their survival and reproduction was successfully addressed as long ago as the 16th century (the time of Ivan the Terrible) by methods that were not unusual at the time: poachers had their hands cut off. The Soviet authorities imposed much less draconian penalties and opened a plant for artificial fish breeding. At the turn of the 21st century the plant ceased to operate and the penalties proved inefficient. Return to the 16th century environmental institution is evidently impossible, as ethical standards have changed radically. Therefore, the task of preserving the Pereslavl cisco, which was successfully addressed for 500 years, must now find a new solution that works.

Importing from the history of foreign countries is also a rare procedure, because it has none of the merits of the previous method and entails all the disadvantages of importing from the contemporary experience of foreign countries. Its only obvious use is for importing informal institutions to areas that have been settled by immigrants with different traditions. From the environmental standpoint, the effects of such importation can be either positive or negative. One positive example was set by 18th century German settlers in the Volga region, Siberia and Kazakhstan, who introduced forest management, organized waste removal, etc. On the other hand, mass relocation of people from forest areas to areas of steppe often causes unreasonable felling of trees (which may have been planted artificially) and irrational use of water. New settlers often need time before they can change their habits and cease to view the environmental restrictions that exist in their new place of residence as artificial or discriminating, so they may continue for many years to employ imported environmental practices that local people view as “barbaric”.

Importation from theory is used on a fairly large scale in environmental management, since theory is a rich source of ideas for protecting the interests of future generations (the key objective of environmental management) and it also respects the importance, which environmentalists attribute to values. People who see themselves as actors or agents in the environmental sphere design various environmental institutions and offer them to, or even impose them on society. Undoubtedly, the creation of new environmental institutions that are more efficient than those, which already exist, but cannot be obtained from natural evolution, is of great use. The main disadvantages of specially designed institutions include frequent lack of regard for the socio-cultural conditions of particular territories with their own informal institutions (especially when importing from the theories of foreign researchers), lack of testing in practice and of support in the process of importation, and conflicts with other institutions in the context of institutional territorial matrices.

Various types of importation have had positive and negative impacts, judged by environmental criteria. For example, the system of ISO 14000 standards, which was initially developed theoretically and thereafter introduced by politicians, has become increasingly popular due to its high efficiency. Historical experience shows that societies need a broad range of theoretical models for institutional change and the design of new institutions (because different communities have different world pictures, as discussed in Chapter 1). What is important is that they should be applied very carefully in practice, not as a panaceas, but as possible regulators of development. In particular, it is vital to avoid situations where one individual (or one group of individuals) has exclusive authority to determine (based on their own expert opinion or privileged knowledge) what is the greatest good for everyone else.

So changes in environmental institutions can occur through various types of import, of which the most widespread is import from the experience of developed economies. Both formal and informal institutions can be imported. But formal institutions are imported relatively quickly, while the transfer of informal institutions requires more time and effort, and has unpredictable results. Further, there is a particular type of institutional import, which has existed throughout the history of mankind, namely the exchange of information about life in different cultures or, to be more precise, the psychological pressure, which arises when such information is received. This phenomenon is of particularly frequent occurrence in today’s globalized world.


The history of civilizations shows that psychological pressure caused by information about life in other countries can lead to institutional change and hence be considered as a specific form of institutional import, including that of environmental institutions. Rapid development of communications in recent periods has maximized the psychological impact of modernization elsewhere in the world, presenting communities with the dilemma of either adapting to the new world order or disappearing together with their unique culture and their experience of traditional resource use and environment protection. In a wider sense, this psychological phenomenon has been called the “demonstration effect”24. It is very difficult to prevent, particularly since its prevention would upset the development of global consumption and cause large-scale turmoil in the world economic system. Consider, for example, the case of Ladakh, a region of the Indian Himalayas, described by Helena Norberg-Hodge [419]. Living standards in Ladakh were higher before than after modernization. Answering the question why the Ladakh people chose the culture and economy of the contemporary technological society rather than relying on their traditions, she emphasizes the degree of psychological pressure to modernize; i.e., the attributes of wealth, success, power and freedom, as perceived by people living in traditional communities, stimulate their wish to be a part of those development patterns. The patterns are mythologized and appear to promise complete success and wealth, while the attendant problems and difficulties are ignored. Norberg-Hodge shows that indigenous people are exposed to “psychological pressure which makes them feel culturally inferior” and motivates them to accept other forms of life. As a rule, no analysis of the real consequences of westernizing is carried out. The enticements of the new life are so great and their own life seems so backward in comparison, that many people fail to understand where they are going and what the consequences of their choice will be. The sentiment is that if people in developed countries can live a wealthy and free life, so should they.

This is an acute issue for Russian society as it undergoes transformation. The studies, which we carried out in villages of Yaroslavl Region (1996-1997), confirmed that the degree of cooperation between rural people had declined greatly in comparison with what it was before. There was an increase of individual competition, sometimes breaking into open conflict, over issues of personal access to development resources, mainly natural resources (in Central Russia these are usually drinking water, land or forest plots, etc.). It would be a mistake to see this upsurge of individualism as an inevitable concomitant of the (generally positive) emergence of new, zealous proprietors. Rather, the new behavior has a destructive core: in the transition crisis people cease to trust public authorities or even each other; they believe that people are getting richer by breaking ethical norms, and they could miss their chance of “privatizing shared property”. This conclusion is largely supported by a survey in Saratov Region by L. Aleksandrova who writes that in the context of chronic economic and political crisis, reforms that are addressed to an abstract rational homo economicus who knows what his own interests are, fail to win support and to operate in practice. There has been an upsurge in irrational forms of behavior, particularly in rural areas, which is characteristic of peasants who are required to accept innovations that are unnatural and undesirable to them. According to the researcher, in 1998 the majority of peasants (60-70%) did not want any changes and did not expect anything good to emerge from innovations [6].

The tragedy of the psychological pressure to modernize, which is exerted on communities, whose survival depends on the preservation of environmental traditions, is that such communities, even when they understand the risks and difficulties of living in the global economic system, generally elect to break away from their traditional forms of life in the belief that they will succeed where others have failed. They assume the behavioral stereotypes of people living in developed countries and obtain the ever-growing social problems that are characteristic of the new life style, such as poverty, marginalization, social instability, accelerating pace of life, new diseases, pollution of the environment, and limited opportunities for the poor. The greatest problem is that the individual makes his or her choice (to be “modern”) not on the basis of ideas that are acceptable for his or her socio-cultural community or family, but guided by a perception of what is of greatest immediate benefit to that individual alone.

When considering the social and moral impact on countries of modernization as a specific form of institutional transfer, we should emphasize that it is based on the new “consumer culture”25, in which individuals essentially become slaves to consumption products. The consumption of particular product groups gives certain individuals the sense of a new identity and significance, which cannot be achieved in a traditional family or local community. Not only does such “consumer culture” generate selfishness, individualism and rivalry among people. It also destroys traditional families, communities and relationships. This is the situation, in which communities become most aggressive in depleting natural resources.

As Russian and foreign authors note [158; 370], increasing damage to the environment and depletion of natural wealth is undermining the consumer society. But this process is uneven and its most severe consequences are to be seen in unsustainable transition societies, which have accepted the “catch-up” development model. This applies in full to the countries that emerged in the post-Soviet space and which, since the late 20th century, have been intensively exploiting their most accessible natural resources, thereby undermining the natural environment. In view of these trends, Russia must support and strengthen local communities in their effort to retain sustainability and uniqueness, while simultaneously integrating with the world economy.

Institutional development of environmental management in the USSR and late 20th century Russia

By the end of the 20th century most environmental institutions of the Soviet period had become inefficient, and the need for importation of new institutions was evident. However, environmental organizations clung to the established institutional matrixes and were only ready to tolerate the import of institutions that matched them. As a result, the 1990s saw the emergence of an inefficient, eclectic system of environmental management, afflicted by contradictions between the imported environmental institutions and those inherited from the Soviet period. The system was weak and plagued by conflicts between various entities involved in environmental protection. If we are to identify the best way of overcoming this impasse, we must analyze the development of the environmental management institutions from the period, which preceded the latest transformation of the Russian economy, until the present day.

Institutional and organizational changes in environmental management at the end of the Soviet period

A unified and generally accepted theory of the institutional development of the former USSR using the model of homo responsabilis as its research tool (see Chapter 1), has not been devised to date and certainly no such theory that relates specifically to the sphere of rational environment management and nature protection has been devised. However, a number of assessments of Soviet economic development from the institutional standpoint have been attempted. One of these, developed by Yu.V. Kuznetsov [111], suggests a view of the USSR as a vertically integrated structure (like a big corporation). Any production unit was included in several hierarchies; each enterprise had several organizations that were its “superiors”, each providing supervision in a particular functional sphere. This approach is interesting because it invites application of the methodology used for the institutional analysis of firms [106; 318] in order to estimate transaction costs in the planned economy and explain the lowly role accorded to money as a form of inter-corporate record-keeping and control/accountability. However, the somewhat simplified nature of this approach precludes examination of the formal and informal environmental institutions that existed in the USSR.

Another approach, developed recently by a group of Novosibirsk economists and christened the “distribution theory” [22; 94], sets out from the fact that the nature of any society is determined by the type of its institutional matrix. S.G. Kirdina distinguishes two such matrixes – eastern and western. Eastern institutional matrixes (typical of Russia, in her view) are created by the institutions of a “distributive” (or redistributive) economy and are characterized by a unitary and centralized political system and a communitarian idea that implies the predominance of supra-personal collective values. Western matrixes, by contrast, are characterized by market economy institutions, federative political structure and predominance of subsidiarity, i.e., the priority of personal values. Such matrixes exist in the majority of European countries and the USA. The hypothesis was advanced that Russia’s economy has always relied on a distributive system, largely determining the development of its environmental institutions, and that Russia’s economic evolution has been the evolution of the institutions of this distributive economy, changing substantially during the transition period due to the introduction (importation) of certain free-market elements [22].

This theory is not essentially at variance with the understanding of the former USSR economy as a vertically integrated corporation, but rather develops this view using a civilizational approach, proving the objectivity and historical justification of various isolated distributive systems with their own laws of development. The basis of such systems is the well known “Asian mode of production”, characterized by the unity of power and ownership. In the environmental sphere, the “contribute-distribute” model ensures the prevalence of control-administrative methods of environmental management and the futility of efforts to create efficient civil society institutions. It casts doubt on the feasibility of self-sufficient, civil society efforts to address vital environmental problems.

But has Russia always been divorced from the world economy? Numerous studies (Braudel, Wallerstein, Frank, Shanin, etc.) show that it only makes sense to speak of its relative economic isolation (with certain allowances) with reference to the mid-20th century. It is a well-known fact that Russia imported institutions from Byzantium, most notably the Christian religion. Communal land ownership, government support for rural communities were also distinctive features of the Byzantine economy. The Emperor (“Basileus”) in Byzantium was the guarantor of the state in the secular sphere, while the patriarch governed spiritual life, and these same institutions, though in a different form, are also inherent to contemporary Russia. Then there were the reforms of Tsar Alexei, followed by the better-known transformations imposed by his son, Peter the Great, which included many new environmental restrictions, including water conservation zones. Catherine II, Paul I and Alexander II were also active importers of environmental institutions.

The assertion that Russia’s future development will be reduced to a new attempt of modernization using the “contribute-distribute” institutional matrix does not seem to be proven, and the very feasibility of transit to the post-industrial economy using such a matrix is highly doubtful. Regarding environment management, it is at least certain that it is more important now than ever before to study the problems associated with import of the unified environmental institutions that dominate the world-economy and to assess their efficiency as imports alongside pre-existing, culturally determined institutions, particularly informal institutions. This is not to say that none of the approaches used in the “contribute-distribute” theory are relevant to the analysis of environmental work. Application of such approaches to the whole of Russian history may be controversial, but they can surely be of much use when studying the institutional environment in the USSR with its characteristic hierarchical organization of labor.

The first thing to note, before looking in more detail at environmental institutions and organizations in the Soviet period, is the dominance in that period of a behavioral model that might be called homo administrativus, characterized by readiness to unconditionally obey orders in the form of decrees, instructions, circular orders and regulations, with very limited freedom of choice. Homo administrativus (as demonstrated in Chapter 1) is not disposed to innovative action or obtaining new information. Unquestioning obedience to superiors, instead of initiative and individual responsibility, generates opportunism at the personal level, which is not subject to social opprobrium, but, on the contrary, is perceived as “knowing how to get by”. Towards the end of the Soviet era, this behavioral model, which had supplanted the innovative impulses of committed revolutionaries in the early 20th century, became endemic, escalating the systemic crisis and speeding up the disintegration of the USSR.


The theory of the “contribute-distribute” economy lets us define the following groups of environmental institutions: environmental distribution, environmental contribution, administrative complaints about violations of environmental rules, and special financial institutions responsible for redistribution by the state of resource and environment rent. In the absence of private ownership institutions, environmental distribution applied to all kinds of tangible and intangible goods as well as rank and job positions. In the framework of the vertically integrated economic system, legal power to dispose of and utilize natural resources and to benefit from resource and environment rent were also subject to distribution. The institutions involved in distribution included: legal environmental standards and rules for the use of natural resources as well as legal documents certifying legal rights to use natural resources, including rules for the ownership of distributed resources, terms of their use, and rules for their return. Objects for distribution included state environmental investments at all levels of territorial organization, specific natural objects including special protected areas (through their attachment to specific resource users), permits to receive specific natural raw materials, and rights to the emission and disposal of pollutants. Legal rights on behalf of future generations were also subject to distribution through the mechanism of state environmental expert assessment. All these types of distribution were carried out by the respective state-run environmental organizations.

Environmental contributions were the indispensable counterpart of distribution, as nothing can be distributed unless it has been accumulated beforehand. The contribution institution included the following elements: goods, services, resources to be contributed and functions, performance of which was compulsory; legal standards and rules regulating the process for collection of tangible and intangible goods and the hierarchical organization of labor; and the regulatory system governing the collection of tangible and intangible goods. The process of contribution consolidated tangible goods and resources for their subsequent redistribution. In the environmental sector such consolidation took the form of appropriation by the state of extracted natural resource rent. In the late 1980s the first attempts were made to isolate a part of the extracted resource rent from state budgets and use it to finance environmental measures. A unified system of environmental funds was created for this purpose, accumulating payments for environment pollution. This system provided the mechanism of the “contribute-distribute” system in the environmental sphere.

Administrative complaints about violations of environmental legislation served as a feedback tool. They consisted of civil complaints, submitted by the general public to the authorities, and managerial complaints, submitted from lower levels of the state organization to higher levels. The administrative complaint institution was regulated by legal standards and rules stipulating the procedures for acceptance, processing, response, subject matter, etc. This institution was of great importance for environmental work because, given the vertically integrated Soviet economy and one-party ideological system, it was the only way the general public could participate in environmental activities. The specific financial institutions of the “contribute-distribute” economy included money circulation, pricing and the state budget. Everything that was contributed and distributed was priced by the state. The specifics of financial institutions in this economy determined priorities in methods of centralized redistribution of tangible assets between territories and industries. Methods for the economic assessment of the efficiency of resource extraction and estimates of environmental damage were designed from these positions. Contribution and distribution flows were calculated using the theory of labor value, which did not recognize economic value in anything that was not produced by human labor, including natural resources.


In the USSR, environmental management was viewed primarily through the prism of natural-resource use planning, which was controlled and conducted by vertically integrated public organizations in the framework of industry ministries and departments. Contribution and distribution flows were balanced on the basis of government plans for economic development, which took account of various measures that were necessary for the rational use, protection and reproduction of natural resources. Since the plans themselves were based on the use of natural resources, such use was regarded as a principal component of national economic planning. The natural environment was an important object of distribution.

The main coordinating role in environment management was played by Communist Party bodies, which were responsible for interaction between territories and sectors. Vertically integrated entities ensured the functioning of the institutions of distribution (of material, information and other resources) and contribution (of products) and, to a lesser extent, of administrative complaints. Environment protection mechanisms included the organizational and ideological impact of the Communist Party, reports of senior enterprise managers to the executive authorities, bonuses and penalties for enterprise managers, communications to sector ministries, and penalties and claims (usually very minor). Non-government environmental organizations (primarily the National Society for Nature Preservation) supplemented the “contribute-distribute” system by exerting moral pressure on those who breached environmental legislation.

The exacerbation of environmental problems and growing complexity of the centralized planned economy in the 1980s led the government to seek solutions via the redistribution of legal rights among public authorities at various levels of territorial organization. The accent in planning was shifted from facilities focused on individual product types to the socio-economic development of territories [121, p. 84]. However, the transfer of environmental powers (approval of the environmental plans of enterprises, hearing reports from directors, etc.) was of a limited character and was not accompanied by appropriate transfer of rights to redistribute product and money flows, which, in the context of the “contribute-distribute” system, meant complete deprivation of power26. Environmental planning on the regional level was reduced to summarizing draft plans of major resource users, bringing them together and making more or less realistic short-term forecasts for the environment section of the regional socio-economic development plan. The design of integrated territorial schemes for environment protection made a certain contribution to the theory of environmental planning, but had no influence on the practice of environmental management.

Under such institutional conditions, environmental organizations were unable to coordinate their activities properly, their powers often overlapped and new functions that were assigned to them were not matched by a respective change in their position in the “contribute-distribute” arrangement. The structure of environmental organizations in Yaroslavl Region by 1988 is fully representatives of this dead-end situation in environmental management. The functions of environmental management in the Region were the responsibility of a bloated staff of 393 officers [259], and this situation was quite typical for Central Russia at the time (Fig. 2.2).

A final attempt at evolutionary reform of the “contribute-distribute” system in the absence of private property institutions was made in the late 1980s. The attempt was focused on encouraging innovative activity by strengthening the role of work collectives (appointment of managers by staff voting, etc.). But this was insufficient to change the essence of the ideology-driven “contribute-distribute” economy: people continued to be regarded as a mere “human factor”.

The perestroika era did at least put environmental issues in the political limelight in Russia to an unprecedented degree. The concept of community action to improve environmental safety was perfectly in tune with the declared aim of building “socialism with a human face”. In 1988 State Committees for Environment Protection were established for the USSR and RSFSR to serve as central bodies of public control in the sphere of the environment and resource use. A system of regional environment bodies took shape and by the end of 1989 it included 72 regional environmental committees, all with similar structure and all subordinated both to the RSFSR State Committee and to government in the respective region of the Russian Federation.

The purpose of the new environmental organizations was to improve the coordination of environmental work by industries and agencies. However, by that time Soviet environmental institutions were not “contribute-distribute” institutions in the full sense, so that environmental control and expert assessment could only influence product and cash flows indirectly, and the institution of administrative complaints could operate only partially. For this reason the new organizations did not make a fit with the existing institutional matrixes. This is evidenced by numerous reorganizations of the State Committee for Environment Protection (on three occasions between 1988 and 1991) and the fact that a Regulation on the Committee was not approved until 1991. Industry and sector agencies continued to exploit natural resources at their own discretion. Fiscal capacities of the new environmental governance bodies were very limited. For instance, they could impose fines on the heads of enterprises in the amount of 100 rubles accompanied by a complaint to the relevant industry and sector agency.

In order to establish its positions in the “contribute-distribute” economy, the RSFSR State Committee for Environment Protection attempted to become a new sector of the economy, providing independent environmental control and expert assessment as new environmental institutions. In order to do that the Committee and its dependents had to acquire the right to direct participation in the contribution and distribution of goods and cash flows. Hence the importation in the early 1990s of the institution of payment for resource use, an institution the utility of which was agreed by most experts [62; 129]. But, even in 1990, the introduction of fees for environment pollution was not perceived by most Russian environmental agencies as a tool to encourage resource-users to intensify their environment protection efforts. Rather, these payments were viewed as a new contribution institution intended to capture a part of product and money flows in the newly formed environmental sector for its subsequent distribution, for conservation purposes, through the system of environment funds, which had been separated out from the state budgetary process. Numerous paid services were introduced at the same time, including fees for chemical tests. Special industry indicators were developed for the assessment of environmental work. Similar policies were adopted by other resource ministries and departments, which set up environmental institutions to suit their own interests.

Organizational chart of regional environmental management in Yaroslavl Region (1988)
Fig. 2.2. Organizational chart of regional environmental management in Yaroslavl Region (1988)

The impossible complexity of environmental institutions and organizations was inevitable in the context of the “contribution-distribution” economy. As the economic crisis of the perestroika years deepened, all public organizations, with their vertically integrated hierarchies, were locked in a struggle for survival, attempting to amend the institutional space in a way that redistributed resource rent for their benefit. In other words, they were vying for senior regulatory roles in the economic system, and this involved retaining artificially low (domestic) prices for natural resources, minimizing environmental spending and paying scant attention to the socio-cultural features of specific territories. Evidently, the creation of one more “contribute-distribute” vertical system in the form of new environmental agencies was not to the advantage of existing public organizations as they fought to keep their share of a rapidly shrinking cake.

Analysis of the development of environmental institutions and organizations in the period immediately preceding the start of market reforms shows that it was impossible to improve the efficiency of environmental management in the framework of the planned economy. The impossibility sprang from the “contribute-distribute” matrix and its roots in the behavioral model of homo administrativus, with lack of innovative ability and strong motivation to destructive behavior at the first signs of weakened government control. Such institutional organization did not enable society to respond to the challenges of globalization or achieve transition to a post-industrial development based on high value of human capital and responsible behavior by individuals.

At the time, environmental ethics were considered to be a part of the overall dominant Communist ideology. But environment-oriented ethical behavior could not find guarantees even in the context of the much trumpeted “moral code of the builders of Communism”. This could be compensated to some extent by tight authoritarian control of behavior by individuals, but that could not be effective due to its ever increasing costs. Hence, a general slide towards destructive behavior. Increasing numbers of people tried to win additional benefits by violating common standards and rules. In the environmental sphere, this was manifested by such phenomena as illegal logging, abandonment of used equipment and refuse in the environment, poaching, etc. Increasing negligence in the work place increased the risk of environment-polluting industrial accidents.

Changes in environmental institutions during the transition

The reforms initiated in the early 1990s have been called revolutionary [230]. The crisis that arose at the time was large-scale and profound. The rejection of the Soviet development model not only meant changes in Russia’s political structure but also the collapse of the former state and the creation of a new one. Crucially, money, which in the Soviet period had been a mere tool for book-keeping and accountability, became a measure of capital. Market prices became the main motivators for economic agents. The transformations disrupted institutional interactions. Formal environmental institutions fell into disrepair to the extent that they had depended on the incentive system rooted in the ideological commitments of the Soviet era.

The speed of change of formal institutions was much greater than that of informal institutions. As a result, a chronic conflict appeared between the retained informal institutions and the new formal ones, as the two types were often incompatible. In the conditions of revolutionary reform, the winners strove to replace the old informal restrictions by new formal rules. Such replacement often ignored the deep-rooted cultural heritage, which is the foundation of many informal institutions. The way out of such a situation, as noted by D. North [166], could be a gradual restructuring of all institutions, both formal and informal, leading to the emergence of a new, much less revolutionary balance.

But, in the short run, Russia saw a return to the restrictions that people were familiar with, some of them even pre-dating Soviet restrictions; and the trend towards destructive behavior by individuals increased. This was reflected in the growth of criminality and corrupt practice (including in the environmental sphere). According to UN data, by 2000 Russia ranked 49th out of 52 countries in a government corruption index (only Colombia, Bolivia and Nigeria [213] fared worse). The reasons for this have been amply discussed in the literature [146; 256]. Let us consider them in more detail.

The biggest problem is mismatch between persisting habits and structures of thought, on the one hand, and the requirements of modernization in the post-industrial development stage, on the other hand. Most Russians consider justice and paternalist values to have the greatest importance, while values attaching to success are relevant for only 20-25% of the population. The stereotypes, by which Russian society still lives, might be summarized: the people are poor and whoever is rich does not belong to the people; and one can only become rich by being immoral. A large part of the Russian general public has not overcome a certain “catastrophism” in their consciousness and they do not associate themselves with national public interests27. Another important point is the dominance of informal relations over formal standards and rules, particularly in rural regions. Reforms are seriously impeded by the traditional authoritarian perception of power as the unlimited right of territorial “bosses” to control everything and everybody in their “fiefdoms”. According to V.G. Fyodorova, most representatives of national and local elites in Russia are peasants by birth [256], coming from a cultural tradition that is characterized by universality and a sense of “the man in charge”. Their instinct tells them that they know best in every sphere from farming to painting, that all problems can be solved by the application of personal experience, and anyone who cannot problems has only him- or herself to blame. They are lords and masters in their fiefdoms, which they rule by the traditional “contribute-distribute” methods, coated with a veneer of democratic rhetoric that has taken the place of socialist rhetoric.

This kind of governance differs from democracy by a lack of will to compromise, a culture of favors given and returned, intolerance, lack of responsibility of the elected to their electors, and lack of respect for the rights of the individual. In the making of collegiate decisions, people strive to obtain support for their position at any price. Loyalty is the most valued quality. In today’s complex, structured and many-faceted world these qualities become an obstacle to development because they perpetuate archaic methods, holding back the formation of a new liberal ethics, which communities of new managers and employees need to learn.

The trend towards deviant behavior in society also plays a negative role. Revolutionary periods are characterized by an upsurge in criminality due to growing polarization of society between those who maintain positive values and those who use the revolution to throw off the “oppression” of cultural habits and social standards. The 1990s were a time when people who had become accustomed to the hierarchical behavior stereotypes of the Soviet period (the state guaranteeing a “bright future” and assuming responsibility for most social needs in return for unquestioning obedience) were suddenly called upon to make their own decisions, without state help. This was perceived as freedom from everything – the state, society and ethics, – encouraging ordinary people to resort to criminal survival techniques. As a result, levels of tolerance towards deviant behavior increased and the system of informal relations in Russian society, the role of which has always remained present in the background, was reinforced.

Acknowledgement of the revolutionary nature of the changes in society is highly important for the study of environment management and of the institutional changes that have occurred. The transformation of social systems, lack of sustainability and general instability, destruction of usual thought stereotypes and ethical guidelines were so many shocks that took people by surprise and had a devastating effect on use of the environment. Homo administrativus, freed from the patronage of the state, rapidly acquired the features of homo economicus, pursuing self-interest and striving to evade all social and environmental costs. Since most ex-Soviet citizens were devoid of religious constraints and entrepreneurial ethical standards, the situation encouraged destructive behavior rather than promoting civilized market relations. The emerging combination of factors gave rise to homo irresponsabilis – a readiness to breach any environmental rules, contractual provisions, etc., if such behavior was profitable, even in the short run, and at the expense of other members of society and future generations.

The institutional crisis in environmental management resulted in a considerable decline of investments in nature conservation due to objective factors (general collapse of economic efficiency) and factors of a subjective nature. In the 1990s the idea gained currency that environmental spending was inexpedient as such, except in particularly hazardous situations. Many Russian managers and politicians adopted the following two arguments with a single (erroneous) conclusion: 1) issues of rational resource use are identical with issues of environment protection, understood in a technocratic perspective, so they can be temporarily set aside during the economic crisis, since pollution of the environment has decreased in tandem with the shrinkage in output; 2) the market economy, including the market for environment-oriented goods and services, is self-regulating, so no special action needs to be taken. These arguments were used to justify the reduction of funding for environmental organizations, which were left to seek the means for their own survival.

The institutional crisis was exacerbated by the decline in efficiency of the environmental mechanisms (tools), which had been used previously, as became clear at the very beginning of the revolutionary transformations: the practice of hearings before Soviet and sectoral bodies was abandoned, as was the rule of withholding bonuses to punish environmental offences, checking internal plans of action at enterprises, etc. The efficiency of administrative fines for environmental offences declined, as they were ridiculously small in comparison with the real earnings of new proprietors.

The processes of demonopolization, deconcentration and decentralization of environmental management functions intensified as market reforms began. The main factor in this process was the demonopolization of decision-making and management functions (vested in the federal ministries and their territorial units). The demonopolization had two aspects: deconcentration (transferring functions vertically downwards, which strengthened the role of territorial environmental bodies in the constituent entities of the Russian Federation); and decentralization (transfer of functions both vertically downwards and horizontally, redistributing responsibility to regional and local governments). This meant that that environmental management could no longer be run as a vertically integrated “industry” using the specifically Soviet institutions of contribution and distribution.

As state power became weaker and formal institutions lost their efficiency, the role of unwritten rules and agreements increased; informal institutions prevailed over the requirements of laws, contract provisions and other constraints, while government authority became increasingly intertwined with ownership (because what mattered was no longer to comply with formal rules but rather to identify the person responsible for decision-making and enter into informal contracts with him). The result in the environmental sphere was the appearance of a web of informal agreements between specific public officials and the heads of resource-using enterprises. This was a breeding ground for the development of various “non-standard” mechanisms (non-payment for environment pollution, misuse of public funds, informal trade in tax allowances, secondary employment, hidden wages, etc.). Informal28 models of interaction, including implicit contracts and shadow practices, played a substantial role in relations between public environmental organizations and resource users. On the one hand, such relations enabled the parties to adapt to the new conditions relatively cheaply; on the other hand, they reduced the efficiency of environmental work, even in the medium term.


The import of environmental institutions began in the early 1990s as a way out of the institutional crisis. This process had specific features.

1. Environmental institutions were imported mainly from economically developed countries with properly established democratic traditions. This process was supported by significant financial aid from foreign donors and international financial organizations. The national and regional environmental action plans developed in Russia in the 1990s were the result of such imports. While appreciating their positive role, we should mention that they shared the mistake of underestimating the importance of socio-cultural features of the territories they were being imported to. In particular, they did not take due account of the traditions of resource use of the local population. The drafted programs did not analyze the consequences of imposing new environmental institutions onto existing territorial institutional matrixes and did not show how to minimize the transaction costs of import. As a result, many environmental mechanisms which had worked well in other socio-cultural contexts, were openly or covertly rejected in Russia.

2. Much effort was devoted to promoting a myth of rapid economic growth and strong investment inflows to the economy, the consequences of which for the environment would need to be regulated and controlled. Various important phenomena were left out of account: the considerable time that transformation processes in society would take; inevitable competition to attract investments for the production of goods and services (including environmental goods, and particularly those needed for the development of new environmental technologies); and the need to stimulate innovative activity in the environmental sphere. As a result, crisis phenomena in environmental management continued to gain momentum, particularly in backward and depressed territories.

3. Under the slogan of an efficient system of public environmental regulation in market conditions, the reformers attempted to apply the imported formal environmental institutions on a much larger scale than they had been applied in the donor countries. For example, the institution of environmental expert assessment was extended by law to all spheres of the economy in Russia in the 1990s and provisions were put in place that effectively called for the environmental regulation of nearly all economic activity. Many specialists at the time viewed this as a breakthrough in securing the rights of people to healthy living conditions, particularly since the goal of all-embracing regulation matched established Soviet stereotypes left over from the command economy. Expert assessment was to be supplemented by a mechanism of licensing for all types of activity.

However, the new initiatives were not specific enough as regards formalization and limits on the use of the new provisions, and this gave much latitude for the making of informal contracts between resource users and supervisory organizations. More fundamentally, formalization and limits on application (not to be understood as lax application!) were necessary, because all-embracing and unconditional use of environmental expert assessment and licensing had the effect of stifling the free market.

4. The urge to preserve and even reinforce the “contribute-distribute” system in environmental management survived in patent or latent form. The old system was visible in proposals to garner financial resources for environmental purposes by increasing fees for environment pollution (payment for noise, electromagnetic and other kinds of pollution, including some rather exotic forms), expansion of the use of licensing, and the implementation of universal and mandatory insurance. The distribution side was rebuilt through a system of off-budget environmental funds, which assumed banking functions [311].

Institutional environmental changes in the 1990s reworked the “contribute-distribute” system without altering its essence. Foreign and international environmental institutions that did not match the system of industry and sector contribution and distribution flows were rejected as unsuitable for import (citing their inapplicability in present circumstances or inexpediency for the objectives, which environmental organizations needed to achieve, etc.). As a result, several environmental institutions that involved ordinary people in environmental management and helped to consolidate local efforts did not receive support. There was a lack of attention at national level to the design and implementation of mechanisms that addressed environmental problems via the interaction and alignment of individuals acting as partners, initiators, generators of ideas rather than treating them as opponents of environmental regulation. So ordinary people remained excluded from environmental activity, social participation shrank, and interaction between various social groups (political, religious, etc.), movements and organizations was lacking.

International practice recognizes over 50 forms of social participation in environmental activities (the main forms are presented in Table 2.4). Some of these mechanisms had been used in Russia previously, so they could be imported both from abroad and from Russia’s history (e.g., the Cossack Assembly, councils of elders in indigenous Arctic communities, etc.). According to Ye.A. Bondarchuk [27], the best way of installing environmental institutions with a strong social base is via a system of grant competitions. In Russia this has mainly become the prerogative of international funds and non-government organizations. Meanwhile, state environmental organizations mainly perceive the general public as a source of irritation rather than a potential ally, as evidenced by regular attempts by government organizations to over-regulate (or, if possible, appropriate) financial flows in the form of grants, and to limit and regulate public access to environmental information. Nevertheless, on the wave of democratization in the early 1990s some community leaders were co-opted to work on environmental community councils and in the preparation of expert assessments.

Table 2.4. Forms of public participation in important environmental decisions [27]

Principle of participation

Nature of participation

Form of participation

Citizen management

Real powers

Referenda, public meetings

Delegation of power

Coordinating or advisory boards (social partnership)


Public hearings, round-table discussions, informal meetings

Taking account of opinion

Symbolic participation

Demo projects


Seminars, trainings and business games

Awareness raising

Information sharing through various channels and forms



Environmental institutional changes in Russia in the 1990s were reflected in the Law “On Environmental Protection” (December 19, 1991) with subsequent amendments. The law was declarative rather than effective, since the democratic environmental changes, which it called for, were incompatible with the actual institutional situation. No uniform rules had been designed governing major issues (e.g., the sale and purchase of land); there were overlapping statutory norms, which gave broad scope for arbitrary interpretation and use. As we have seen, environmental institutional changes occurred in a context where the “contribute-distribute” institutional matrix had only been amended, without changing its essence. Interdependence between government and ownership remained high and corporate privatization of main financial and product flows created the prerequisites for replacement of the Soviet model by an oligarchic development model, which determined the selection and scenario of environmental institutional changes.


Such changes were carried out in the framework of the institutional development trends that were specific to this period of Russian history: on the one hand, there were continuous attempts to create a vertically integrated environmental sector with its own contribution and distribution flows; on the other hand, the constituent entities of the Federation clearly intended to set up their own regional territorial corporations. The latter sought to increase their relative independence within Russia’s institutional space by the creation of regional environmental organizations accountable to regional government. Conflicts arose between environmental organizations at different levels over powers and authorities for regulating contributions and distributions. In particular, there was a battle for the right to regulate distribution of the money of environmental funds, while the function of collecting environmental contributions was willingly delegated. The organizational changes of the early 1990s at the regional level followed three basic scenarios (catastrophic, consolidated and balanced) and the choice of a specific scenario was largely determined by the political situation at any given time.

CATASTROPHIC.In this scenario environmental management was based on mobilization and a greater role for vertically integrated, quasi-military entities, including the Ministry of Emergency Situations. Decision-making was centralized with environmental control and expert assessment concentrated in the territorial branches of federal agencies. Management of basic resources (licensing, permits, departmental funds for water, mineral resources replacement, etc.) was carried out by federal resource services attached to particular sectors. Environment protection using economic and legal tools practically ceased to operate and the role of administrations of the constituent entities of the Federation in environmental management was minimized.

CONSOLIDATED OR MIXED.Environmental powers were concentrated in a territorial body with dual subordination, reporting to the administration of the constituent entity of the Federation and the Ministry of Natural Resources. This reduced the conflicts that arose in environmental management at federal and regional levels in instances of duplication of functions, and also reduced uncertainty over distribution of powers to use resources between the federal center and regions. However, simultaneous dependence of the environmental control services on federal and regional bodies made their own status unclear, and streamlining of budget financing from different sources led to problems.

BALANCED.Powers in the environmental sphere were distributed between federal and regional organizations under special agreements between the respective public authorities. Public environmental control and expert assessment were performed independently of the regional administration by a specially authorized territorial unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources. There was also a territorial environmental department in the regional administration, which drew up regional environmental policy, developed the regional regulatory and legal framework, recorded and assessed natural resources, and prepared and implemented regional environmental programs. This scenario made a good match with the federative organization of the Russian state. Its drawbacks included weak legislative, regulatory and information support and uncertainty over relations between the center and regions as regards the use of natural-resource rent.

The above forms of environmental management existed until the mid-1990s when the federal center put a stop to the creation of bodies in dual subordination (federal and regional). As a result, the “balanced” scenario for environmental organizations became dominant in most regions. Territorial coordination in the natural resource industry was vested in structural units of regional administrations. Control and expert assessment functions of environmental organizations were strengthened, particularly after the establishment of the Federal Environmental Agency. However, attempts to turn the system of payments for environment pollution and off-budget environmental funds into a “contribute-distribute” system for the redistribution of public financial and product flows were hindered by opposition from other federal authorities and, in particular, from constituent entities of the Federation.

Despite the instability of the institutional environment in the 1990s, the period was characterized by an upsurge of environmental activity among the general public, as shown by the creation of many non-commercial environmental organizations (NCOs). The NCOs often came into conflict with state-run environmental organizations, which were unused to a constructive dialog with the general public. However, matters improved gradually in the early 1990s, notably with respect to rights of access to information, involvement in decision-making, etc. Precedents were set, where environmental NCOs exerted real influence on political decisions. For example, a number of successful campaigns were held (including referenda) on whether to stop or suspend construction of environmentally hazardous facilities in some regions and a number of influential politicians took roles in government thanks to the new importance attached to environmental issues and with the support of NCOs. However, efforts to set up strong political parties and movements with environmental platforms were unsuccessful (failed attempts included the Socio-Environmental Union, the Cedar Movement, and some others). So the real impact of NCOs on the changing environmental institutional was limited.


The accelerated transformation of Russian society and growth of institutional contradictions in the transition period damaged the efficiency of governance in Russia, including governance in the environmental sphere. As civil society institutions remained underdeveloped, institutional changes in environmental management were mainly implemented by state-run organizations, which supervised compliance with environmental legislation and imported new institutions. State organizations instinctively worked to strengthen the contribute-distribute principles for regulation of resource use and environment protection, to which they were accustomed. As the overall efficiency of formal institutions declined and the role of unwritten rules and agreements increased, the state environmental institutions tried to build imported environmental institutions into the existing territorial institutional “contribute-distribute” matrixes. As a result, environmental regulatory mechanisms that had been used successfully in other countries were distorted beyond recognition in Russia. Their efficiency as tools for conservation was impaired, negative effects from their implementation increased, and the outcome was to discredit the whole notion of environment work.

We will now consider how such institutional distortions occurred, using as examples the most common and indispensable mechanisms of environmental management.

INCREASING SCOPE OF ENVIRONMENTAL LICENSING.Regulatory documents issued by the Russian Environmental Agency in the late 1990s made licensing obligatory for activities that affect the natural environment. The list of activities was so long that virtually every organization had to obtain an environmental license. Even after this list was not approved by the Ministry of Justice, many regional environmental agencies continued to issue licenses to companies and organizations in return for a fee. Licensing based on a principle of permits and prohibitions was considered to be a vital mechanism of environmental policy. Documents issued by state agencies show a consistent trend towards extending (or, at least, not reducing) the list of activities to be licensed, disregarding any opportunities for simplifying the attendant procedures. The option of replacing licenses by other, less burdensome, regulatory tools was not considered.

By contrast, countries with democratic traditions have long understood the need for simpler, more market-friendly mechanisms. Already in 1991, one of Germany’s leading environmental management experts Wicke Lutz [462] stated that excessive licensing could kill the market and lead to unfettered bureaucracy. But in Russia even the environment community and NCOs saw no threat to civil rights in the trend towards all-pervasive licensing.

CASE-BY-CASE APPROACH IN ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT ASSESSMENT PRACTICE.In Russia environmental expert assessment mainly used an individual, case-by-case, approach to projects. This inevitably encouraged the conclusion of informal contracts between resource users and officials. Most countries, realizing this danger, have put special formal procedures in place. For example, the unbiased character of assessment can be ensured by government expert advisory boards. A system of such advisory boards was created in Russia in the early 1990s at both federal and regional levels, but they lacked real independence or were virtual in nature (meeting only in absentia). In the traditional “contribute-distribute” institutional matrix the boards were mere rubber stamps. Their membership was selected by the assessment head who selected the expert group for each project and, for want of clear guidelines, it was left to that person to decide whether a project would be sent for consideration by the board of merely for its approval, or whether a standard assessment would be sufficient. It was common practice for expert assessment to be performed by the staff of companies or organizations themselves for an extra fee, and this was legitimized by industry regulations. The assessment head might find it necessary to see foreign-made environmental equipment in operation and request a business trip abroad at the expense of the customer, etc.

ESTABLISHMENT OF INDIVIDUAL TEMPORARY EMISSION AND POLLUTION DISCHARGE STANDARDS AND WASTE DISPOSAL LIMITS.The practice of environmental rationing in Russia requires that standard levels of emissions, pollution and waste disposal29 should be established for each resource user for a specific period. These levels are of great importance for natural resource users in the course of project development, when setting rates of maximum allowable emissions and discharges and also for estimating how much they will have to pay for pollution of the environment.

Environment quality standards in Russia are based on a biological approach that measures maximum permissible levels of polluting substances and they are much stricter than standards in European countries (up to a thousand times stricter for some substances). These standards were applied in the market economy as a basis for payments to be made by resource users, even though there were no approved laboratory testing techniques or even a possibility of measurement of many of the substances. Environmental standards that were not adjusted to the state of the economy and society, and were even stricter than those applied in wealthy countries, failed to raise the efficiency of environmental work and only promoted the practice of informal contracts between resource users and the staff of environmental organizations.

Tough regulations on the content of liquids discharged into surface water and gas emissions to the atmosphere have not improved the state of most Russian eco-systems in recent decades, and a worsening has been observed in some cases: the levels of most widely measured pollutants in nearly all major rivers in European Russia are above the maximum permissible levels. At the same time, official environmental standards that are exaggerated relative to other countries (though adjusted on a case-by-case basis) have discouraged investments. For example, one of the reasons why, in the 1990s, international investors refused to finance the reconstruction of a paper mill in the Mari El Republic (including installation of up-to-date purification facilities) was that the environmental requirements could not be met. The investors could not assume the risk attached to informal agreements with local authorities on lowering the standards in this specific case. As a consequence, polluted waste water from the decrepit paper mill continued to be discharged into the Volga River. Water supply and sewage projects in Russia are 20% to 50% more expensive than similar projects in Europe (because requirements for additional stages of water processing have to be met).

In other words, the mechanism, inherited from the Soviet period, of establishing individual agreed norms of pollution has a negative effect on the economy and on environmental work, hindering innovations, including the use of new environmental technologies, and encouraging informal contract making between resource users and the officials of environmental organizations. In most countries environmental standards are established for specific territories, taking account of their environmental capacity and industrial capacity, thereby avoiding a biased, corruption-prone approach. For instance, in the 1990s, Germany’s eastern regions established “transition” standards for five years. Criticism of the pollution payment system based on maximum permissible emission and discharge levels and its failure to match best international practice has been heard inside Russia since the early 1990s. But transition to the better environmental standards has still not been achieved.

PARTIAL INDIVIDUAL RELIEF FROM ENVIRONMENT POLLUTION AND WASTE DISPOSAL PAYMENTS.The granting of relief became common practice, since many “dirty” production facilities could not be closed. This enables fees for environment pollution to be regulated at regional level, avoiding budget procedures and encouraging individual contract relations between territorial organizations and resource users, including informal contracts. Committees on the granting of relief were established, but they usually rubber stamped informal agreements, giving them extra legitimacy. These institutional distortions were only overcome in the late 1990s when the tax authorities took over the task of charging fees for pollution.

SUBJECTIVISM AND REDUCTIONISM IN THE USE OF ENVIRONMENT FUNDS.Off-budget environment funds played a significant role in the survival of environmental organizations and infrastructure in the crisis period by financing environmental measures in regions and equipping environmental services and laboratories. However, this institution had its downsides. The fees paid by enterprises were collected and redistributed according to the Soviet-era “contribute-distribute” principle as direct environment investments. Credit instruments, multi-channel funding and special-purpose programs were hardly ever used. Allocation of funds was not competitive and investment priorities were not properly planned: state officials decided who should be supported in the given political situation.

It was often difficult to decide what qualified as an “environmental measure” and therefore deserved funding, and this created scope for dubious fund distribution. A “corporate” approach was most widespread, as officials channeled money to favored firms. Projects were financed without feasibility studies or final reports on the use and efficiency of funding, money was circulated on accounts at friendly banks to exploit high interest rates (the earnings were usually distributed covertly), or was invested in companies with the direct or indirect participation of public officials. In some regions authority to decide the distribution of payments collected by environment funds was transferred to regional administrations. In practice, this did not make matters better or worse as distributions and contributions were in any case regulated in a highly subjective way.

BROADENING OF PAYMENT PRACTICES.The practice of paying informal commission fees for lobbying allocation of budget funds and financing from environment funds became widespread. In today’s Russia payments for lobbying may be equivalent to payment of bribes: while lobbying in such countries as the USA is regulated by law as a professional service, making it transparent and accountable (including for taxation purposes), such activities in Russia are completely informal.

SELECTIVITY OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL.Environmental control came to be regarded not only as a means of feedback in management systems, but also as an administrative mechanism that could be used to address problems outside the environmental sphere. There was selectivity in picking facilities for inspection (often the wealthiest companies) and increasing subjectivism in the inspection process, although this was, to an extent, inevitable in conditions of the social and economic crisis, when many enterprises that fulfilled major employment and social functions could not be closed, however polluting they might be. In rural territories environmental inspections often followed a principle of “ours” and “theirs”. Firms and organizations that fitted into existing power structures were subject to only a pretense of environmental control, while entities that were viewed as undesirable (private farmers, entrepreneurs, etc.) were forced out.

LOWERING OF QUALITY REQUIREMENTS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECTS VS. INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF APPROVALS AND AMOUNT OF ANALYTICAL WORK REQUIRED. The preliminary environmental work that has to be carried out in any industrial project includes environmental aspects in the design or modernization of facilities, calculations of maximum permissible emission and pollutant discharge levels and the preparation of environment passports (the last two processes essentially duplicate one another) and environment impact assessment. These tasks were originally carried out by state-owned design organizations with their own specialized departments. However, the 1990s saw the emergence of new organizations in various legal formats (cooperatives, closed joint-stock companies and even establishments with chains of affiliates), which that had covert affiliation with regional environmental agencies and could therefore use “administrative resource” (connections in government) to lobby the interests of particular firms and organizations, speeding up approval processes, slackening requirements and exploiting other tools that made it possible to cut corners and costs30. The staff of design organizations began to work through such firms, thereby weakening or even ruining their own organizations. At the same time the range of mandatory tests expanded (with similar documents being required additionally by the Ministry of Emergency Situations from 2000). The result was an all-embracing administrative monopolization of environmental service markets and the creation (explicit or implicit) of “territorial corporations” of a particular kind. Organizations which were not a part of such corporations were pushed out of the market by intentional over-complication of approval procedures, endless expert assessments, etc.

This trend was promoted by the peculiarities of the Russian environmental service market: its limited capacity (since regulation by government was not assisted by civil society institutions) and special sensitivity of its players to interrelations between resource users and environmental organizations. In a survey on the efficiency of spending on the preparation of environmental documentation in Yaroslavl Region in 1995-96 [202], 97% of respondents (company chief executives) regarded environmental documentation as a means of creating a relationship with government environmental bodies rather than as a guide for work to protect the environment.

The consequences of such monopolization of the environmental service market were various. As our studies in Yaroslavl Region showed, the first stage (until the mid-1990s) saw continuous growth in the costs for companies of producing environmental documentation, amounting to several billion rubles per year in total (in 1995 prices, before the ruble was divided by 1000). For small and medium-sized businesses the cost of obtaining environment passports and maximum permissible emission and pollutant discharge standards often exceeded the sum total of what they would pay for environment pollution by several times. One company, Balkanskaya Zvezda, paid 2.5 billion rubles in 1993 to prepare environmental documentation, while it payments for environment pollution in the same period were 0.157 billion rubles.

Some regions had to acknowledge the pernicious nature of the system, since most companies simply refused to pay for the design of environmental documentation, preferring instead of pay fines for pollution. The “territorial corporations”, which had come into being, then acted to reduce the cost of environment documentation, so that all regional companies would agree to obtain it.

A spectacular case of a unified, monopolized, all-embracing system of environmental documentation is offered by Kirov Region, which imposed environmental passports for all natural resource users (see Insert 1). This approach fitted perfectly with the “contribute-distribute” model of environment management. Assuming 100% success, the result would be complete administrative control of all economic activities, and the officers of the environmental organizations would have full access to the commercial information of resource users. Superficially, this offers thorough environmental control, but factually it undermines investments, including investments to protect the environment.

Various methods were used to reduce the costs of preparing environmental documentation. They included:

  • selective easing of documentation requirements;
  • appointing low-skilled “cheap” personnel to do the work;
  • tax evasion by engaging firms that benefited from tax allowances (social organizations, associations of disabled people, etc.) to carry out design work.

As a result, “territorial corporations” with their member organizations virtually monopolized the environmental services market. Informal contacts with the officials of state environmental organizations meant that they could obtain additional income by compromising the quality of design work and by neglecting to improve infrastructure or personnel training. By the end of the 1990s, as the demand for environmental design work in the regions declined and “intra-corporate” competition became more intense, prices for such work fell and by 2000 they were 3-4 times lower than project design work in other spheres. The environmental services market crumpled, and the most efficient organizations and professionals left the sector. By the end of the 20th century some regions were finding it hard to carry out the complex environmental work needed for large projects, sanitary-protection zones, etc., due to the lack of appropriate organizations and qualified personnel. So, despite the obvious need to create a competitive environment in the new free market conditions, the environment sector was afflicted by excessive transaction costs, which were not directly related to environmental design work, and environmental services were monopolized under the patronage of environmental organizations in “territorial corporations”, which operated through “administrative resource” and informal deals.

Insert 1

The environment passport system in Kirov Region in the mid-1990s

Each enterprise must have an environment passport, consisting of primary databases that describe the impact of its operations on the environment. The format of the passport as a regulatory-technical document are based on the technological structure of the resource-using enterprise, its process sheets and process instructions, State Standards (GOST), levels of consumption of basic and auxiliary materials, and other source data and documents. Completion of forms for the passport require charts of product flows, as well as calculations of power and material consumption per unit of output and of production efficiency. The passport consists of several sections: general information and data bases on water, air, waste and environment conditions (soil, vegetation, etc.).

Information in the environment passports of several enterprises are integrated in higher level passports (for an industrial zone, city, etc) to enable territorial generalization of the data. Costs should be minimized by monopolization and automation of passport production. Completion of a passport requires information gathering “from within” an enterprise: technological and commercial innovations, process data, product range, business plans (particularly when preparing to launch new products), parameters of raw materials used, etc.).

Source: Regulation for Environment Passports in Kirov Region, 1994.

Overall, the importation of foreign environmental institutions to Russia encouraged “non-standard” behavior: arriving on Russian soil, new institutions immediately became cluttered with informal relations and personal ties. Environmental activities were not regulated by clear and mandatory laws; there were no transparent and uniform procedures or efficient public mechanisms for monitoring compliance. Attempts to remedy this situation gradually lost momentum: environmental boards (involving the general public) attached to regional committees for nature conservation or regional administrations and regular public meetings of such boards were common in the early 1990s, but had become a rarity by the end of the decade.

There are several reasons why this occurred: sustainable bureaucratic “contribute-distribute” mechanisms appeared in the environmental sphere; habits of “law-abiding” behavior had not taken root; ideological foundations were lacking; and finally, incentives were lacking that would encourage people to comply with environmental imperatives. Without strong mechanisms of protection and control, environmental institutions ceased to operate as universal tools and were often used to arrange informal deals.

Because environmental institutions took this path, people ceased to trust environmental services and each other, became more inclined to destructive behavior, and assumed that ethical standards were being universally violated. The negative effect was particularly serious for shared natural resources: illegal logging around towns and villages intensified, important biodiversity disappeared, significant sites of natural and cultural heritage were destroyed, unauthorized refuse dumps proliferated, etc.

State environmental organizations were largely to blame for what happened. By turning themselves into vertically-integrated corporations acting mostly for their own benefit and striving to monopolize environmental infrastructure, they transformed institutions for their own convenience and reduced their own costs. NCOs that came into being at the time were not able to play any meaningful role in environmental management.

Involving people in environmental management, implementing conciliatory mechanisms to make joint environmental decision within territorial communities, coordinating different interests and nurturing environmental education had little importance for state environmental organizations, because such actions they did not serve the corporate logic of those organizations. Nor were they interested in efforts to expand the market of environmental services (an excellent way of making conservation work more efficient and attracting investments). Pride of place among environmental indicators was accorded to the number of inspections carried out and the volume of damage to the environment that was supposedly prevented through fines and cases brought against resources users, i.e. artificial indicators of very little significance in the market economy.

Relative equilibrium and respective environmental changes in the stabilization period

At the turn of the millennium, the stage of revolutionary reforms in Russia came to an end. Economic and social transformations slowed down and a relative equilibrium emerged in the institutional environment. It was encouraged by the completion of large-scale privatization, high prices for main Russian exports (oil, gas, metals), the formation of new power elites and a number of other factors, both objective and subjective. The economic situation stabilized and some social antagonisms were mitigated. However, structural reforms remained incomplete.

Despite the shocks of the early 1990s, Russia and its regions still had relatively stable and unmodernized institutional matrixes of the “contribute-distribute” economy, characterized by the intertwining of government and ownership and by alienation of ordinary people from government. The individual behavior stereotypes of the “contribute-distribute” matrix (evading external supervision by a pretense of obedience, lack of censure for destructive behavior, distrust and even hostility towards government, etc.) remained obstacles to innovation and modern management technologies. One example of the type of behavior that this matrix produced: theft of injectors from a fully automated, up-to-date boiler house, for sale as scrap metal (“let the bosses buy new ones!”), caused whole settlements to almost freeze in the depth of the Russian winter. Sentries had to be placed to prevent a repeat of the same behavior.

As discussed above, what Russia needed was not another modernization within the framework of the traditional institutional matrix but adjustment of the basis of that matrix – a real rather than declarative change in the status of people vis-à-vis the state that would make people the goal and not the means of government. This calls for a new, efficient institutional balance between formal and informal institutions, including those acting in the environmental sector, which would enable transition to the post-industrial society. As the pace of globalization accelerates, such institutional changes need to be effected as soon as possible, because the relative institutional equilibrium that prevailed at the end of the 20th century, in a context of incomplete economic and social reforms, could not, even hypothetically, ensure Russia’s sustainable development or even its stable existence.

The new rulers of Russia, understanding the complexity of the post-reform period, also understood that the institutional system, based on intertwining of state power and ownership and the entanglement of all government institutions in a tight net of informal arrangements and personalized ties, was uncompetitive in the modern world. Society was offered a draft project for institutional change. Its basic points were set out clearly in program declarations: design of consolidating ideas; establishing transparent and uniform “rules of the game”; building a “strong state” capable of meeting its obligations; liquidation of multiple power centers and independence of public institutions from influential groups with their own special interests; nurturing an efficient and corruption-free bureaucracy; establishing a principle of equidistance between business and government; reduction of “gray” schemes and non-transparent practices; and legalizing the unofficial economy.

However, it remains unclear even today what approach will be used to address these problems: another attempt at modernizing institutional relations within the framework of traditional contribute-distribute matrixes; or recognition of the inevitability of their reform, backed up by systematic action by government and society. It is important to realize that government commitment alone will not be sufficient. In the context of contemporary Russian society any laws and contractual provisions, even supported by political elites and widely approved, will not take automatic effect as formal institutions. Their enforcement will depend on whether those who are interested in their implementation have sufficient resources to make them work in practice.

In the environment sector, the relative institutional equilibrium of the post-revolutionary period was the result of destruction of formal environmental institutions inherited from the Soviet era, the filling of this institutional space with various informal interactions and the enhancement of their role, and the importation of (mainly formal) environmental institutions from the experience of developed economies with long democratic traditions, without their due adaptation to Russia’s territorial institutional matrixes. So there was a “normalization” of the institutional space, effecting a new balance between informal and formal institutions, with the role of the latter diminished.

This equilibrium was far from satisfactory. Territorial institutional matrixes had been stabilized to some extent, but at the expense of deformation or exclusion of formal environmental institutions. The situation did not meet the needs of society: dissatisfaction with the ecological situation and inefficient use of natural resources remained widespread, but all parties had adapted in some way and were not prepared to incur the additional costs of amending the institutional situation and the risks of challenging the status quo. In these circumstances the role of informal institutions inevitably grows, because they allow flexible adaptation to changing conditions, avoiding the pain involved in change of formal environmental institutions.

However, the predominance of informal institutions makes it difficult to consolidate group interests and increases the costs of collective action in the environment sector, with long-run negative effect on the development of society. Firstly, the circle of “parties” to transactions is limited to agents who can contact each other personally on a regular basis, which this slows down innovation and leads to the segmentation of the environmental market. Secondly, the time horizon of solutions is reduced as the implementation of resource protection projects becomes too risky unless the future obligations of all parties are clearly fixed. Thirdly, there is much scope for opportunistic behavior since informal deals are not supported by dependable sanctions for possible breaches.

The increased role of informal institutions in the post-revolutionary stage of the institutional transformations in Russia was inevitably accompanied by increase in the role of environmental management at local level. Formal environmental institutions inherited from the Soviet era had disintegrated without being replaced by efficient market instruments, and the only compensating mechanisms for the crisis of state environmental governance were personal contacts and trust between members of communities. But the enhanced role of informal institutions was no substitute for formal institutions (national and local), because the activities of large national and transnational corporations can only be efficiently regulated by formal institutions and the role of such corporations in the economy is continuously growing.

This leads us to reconsider the very phenomenon of import of environmental institutions, both as to the efficiency of institutions that have already been imported and the prospects for importing new ones. The main criterion must be universal environmental impact: informal practices cannot be a substitute for formal institutions because the first lack the universality of the second. This is especially important for Russia in view of the great variety of its institutional space. Inevitable differences in the efficiency of imported unified environmental institutions can be compensated by supplementing them with specific, socio-culturally determined formal and informal institutions. This will both minimize the costs of importation and provide a basis for the regionalization of environmental policy.

Such regionalization can be achieved by grouping Russia’s territories and settlements by types as regards their need for institutional changes. A first group would consist of territories and settlements of an “accelerated modernization” type, where unified environmental institutions can be built into existing institutional matrixes at minimum cost and would interact efficiently with the socio-culturally determined institutions, while the role of specific, mainly informal, institutions is virtually negligible. The second group includes “problem” territories and settlements where the use of unified environmental institutions is possible but their range is rather limited due to the dominance of specific formal institutions and informal practices in the institutional matrixes. In these cases the forced import of institutions would cause unacceptable growth of transaction costs and induce conflicts, so that special policies are needed. The third group contains territories and settlements with traditional systems of land tenure, where the use of imported institutions is impossible because it will lead to degradation of communities with their own traditional culture.

In the situation that followed the disruptive 1990s, environmental organizations were relatively stable. The Russian Environmental Agency, which was vested with control and expert assessment functions existed until 2000, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Natural Resources. This transfer can be viewed in two ways: as recognition of the inefficiency of the sectoral “contribute-distribute” approach to environmental management; and as unwillingness of the “contribute-distribute” corporate-oligarch economy to incur costs for nature conservation. In any case, it has proved impossible to this day to create an efficient system of environmental organizations that meets the needs of economic globalization and transition to the post-industrial society. Creation of an efficient environmental management system in Russia will require reorientation to environmentally meaningful end results, and away from bureaucratic supervision of resource-users, as well as genuine prohibition of informal agreements between the officials of environmental organizations and resource users. Attempts to maintain continuity of the institutional policy that was implemented by the abolished Environmental Agency cannot give positive results, even if that policy is applied more efficiently than it was before.

In the constantly changing institutional environment it is impossible to formulate a ready-made recipe for building environmental organizations (a recipe that would define their structure, their work regime, interactions, etc.). One can only identify the main territory-determined factors which affect the development of environmental organizations. These are: natural and economic conditions, type of resource use, resource-use traditions associated with socio-cultural features, and the balance between different forms of ownership [261].

Natural and economic conditions determine the general structure of the regional economy, which depends on the combination of available natural resources, natural environment factors and -geographical location (transport factors, etc.). The type of resource use is defined as a technologically uniform way of using the natural resource potential of the territory, specific to the given territory and having definite relations with regional economic activity and geographical environment. The type of resource use directly determines the work of environment organizations: if there is an immediate threat of depleting a certain resource, the regional standards and rules and the very structure of environment management must be restructured accordingly. The traditions of resource use associated with the socio-cultural features of the population of the specific territory determine the motivation of resource-using activities that are to be permitted by the environmental restrictions and regulations as well as the range of managerial decisions that can be made. The ownership structure determines the possibility and manner of use of certain regulators of the activities of the resource users. During the period of transition to market relations public ownership of natural resources is transformed into various different forms of ownership and legal rights in the natural resource sector are redistributed accordingly.

The creation of an efficient system of environmental organizations cannot be instantaneous and easy. It cannot be based on anybody’s subjective judgment of “what is best” because the development scenarios for environmental organizations depend on the trends and pace of institutional changes in society as a whole and the environmental sector in particular. They also depend on how institutional territorial matrixes develop in Russian regions. So environmental organizations reflect the peculiarities of the institutional space, where information about the natural, social, cultural and other specifics of territories, which is needed for environmental management, is generated and transformed through social and cultural filters.

Algorithm to measure the efficacy of import of formal environmental institutions in the differing geographical conditions of Russian regions

The importation of formal institutions is the principal element of revolutionary transformation of society. The success or failure of the transformation depends on how smoothly such importation occurs and to what degree the inevitable transaction costs can be reduced. The specific feature of Russia’s institutional transformations of the 1990s is that, in contrast with the revolution of the early 20th century (when the institutions were essentially imported from theory), the main role was played by import from developed economies.

The rapid import of environmental institutions was motivated by inability of the institutions inherited from the administrative planned economy to regulate the activities of resource users in market conditions. As social transformation moves the country towards a civilized market, the motivation of institutional import in the environment sector steadily changes and there is increasing conformity with the institutional conditions of the world economy: greater transparency in the making and implementation of decisions; creation of institutional business conditions that are understandable for companies; attracting innovation and investment to the environment sector; entering the international market of eco-products and services, etc. But the pace and character of such changes differ substantially between regions depending on their characteristics.

The geographical diversity of Russia entails substantial regionalization of its institutional space. In some regions the institutional changes initiated by the federal center modify the existing institutional relations without difficulty, at minimum cost. In others, institutional reforms falter, the introduction of formal institutions initiated by the central government is either blocked or these institutions are modified to such an extent that the effect of their use is the exact opposite to what was intended. Even a general analysis of the institutional changes of the last decade shows that such blockage and modification is not always negative: in many cases it has saved regions from ill-considered decisions of the central authorities. So it is an urgent task today to develop methods for the preliminary assessment of the potential for importing institutions, including environmental institutions, to different regions with their differing conditions. This task is becoming a crucial element of environmental policy.

The choice of formal institutions to be imported has to be made before tackling details of the actual importation process. So it is worth developing an algorithm for the apriori (preliminary) assessment of the efficiency of importing unified formal environmental institutions to the differing geographical conditions of various Russian regions. Such an assessment at the stage of preliminary analysis is useful for understanding the very possibility of importation31.

The apriori analysis has to be supplemented by aposteriori work when the new institutions are tested in the framework of pilot projects. This is important because the whole process requires adjustments to the imported institution as it develops in the regional context, empirical identification of areas of mismatch, measures to address them and decisions on the advisability of continuing the import process (based on the goals of the environmental institutional system). However, while admitting the importance of the aposteriori assessment, we will deliberately focus on the preliminary analysis, since it is essential at the initial stage of import planning and because the a posteriori assessment has already been carried out to a large extent (without using the actual term) in previous sections of the present book, where we considered results of the import of various formal environmental institutions in territorial institutional matrixes at various stages of the transformation of Russian society.

Assessment of efficiency in the import of environmental institutions is complicated by the lack of any precise methods for deciding why the imported institution should be preferred to the existing one32. There are complex methodological issues regarding the ambivalence of comparisons, difficulty of aggregation of individuals’ well-being, and ethical dilemmas (is it acceptable of sacrifice the well-being of one group of people for the sake of improving the position of others?). Also, environmental institutions have a number of peculiarities. In most cases they are not used in isolation and it is difficult to distinguish the contribution of a specific environmental institution within a “package” of institutional measures. Quite frequently, the data needed for retrospective assessment are unavailable, because it was difficult to judge at the initial stage which information would be required for assessment. Also, environmental institutions often serve more than one purpose.

The list of factors that complicate numerical assessment of the efficiency of importing formal environmental institutions could be continued. They include the lack of practical experience in evaluating strategic measures, the problem of sharing responsibility for their implementation between different public authorities, inadequate information support, etc. However, assessment of the efficiency of formal environmental institutions is carried out in various countries. For example, Sweden has published a comprehensive assessment of environmental fees and taxes; the USA carries out careful evaluation of its system of permits that are offered for sale; and various kinds of assessment of institutional efficiency are made in Austria, Denmark, Canada, Germany, Norway and other countries. Therefore, despite some lack of proper theoretical grounding, it would be unreasonable not to attempt an analysis of the efficiency of importing environmental institutions, applying qualitative and analytical methods where precise calculations are impossible.

It is important to remember that assessment of the efficiency of importing environmental institutions is always made with reference to specific territories, i.e., it presupposes an analysis of changes occurring in a particular territory as a result of the import. This assessment must be performed at the preliminary stage, immediately before starting the process of importation, in order to reduce the probability of conflict situations and reduce the future costs of correcting errors due to wrong decisions. So assessment of the efficiency of importing unified formal environmental institutions in the varying geographical conditions of Russia’s regions must include the following stages: assessment of the advisability of the import; assessment of its possibility based on an extended analysis of territorial peculiarities; and multi-criteria assessment of the efficiency of the import in that specific territory.


This stage is important because of the high differentiation of the institutional space in Russia, which entails major differences in the efficiency and even the very possibility of importing unified formal environmental institutions. Some territories are intrinsically “poor soil” for imports because their institutional matrixes are dominated by specific formal institutions and informal practices: any forced import is accompanied by prohibitively high growth of transaction costs or full rejection of the innovation. The advisability of importation is assessed as follows:

  • analysis of the state of the environmental institutional system and the directions for its development;
  • identification of the institutions that could be imported, based on the study of current foreign experience, the country’s (territory’s) own history and the history of foreign countries;
  • decision on the advisability of importing the identified institutions to the institutional environment existing in the territory.

At the same time a comparative empirical cost-benefit analysis is made by studying the use of formal environmental institutions in different countries and different historical periods. Such international and historical comparisons help to identify institutions, the import of which will prove most effective.


Such territorial peculiarities are supposed to be manifested in three groups of factors: the environmental-social-psychological situation, the political-psychological situation and the level of knowledge about the territory. These factors help to understand the processes occurring in the territory, which is important for assessing the efficiency of importing formal environmental institutions.

THE ENVIRONMENTAL-SOCIAL-ECONOMIC SITUATION is evaluated using the following indicators: the state of social production; redistribution of ownership rights to production facilities and natural resources; financial situation; potential for investment in resource-saving and environmental work; innovations in the environmental sector; and efficiency of the existing environmental management system (Table 2.5).

THE POLITICAL-PSYCHOLOGICAL SITUATION is evaluated using the following indicators: how living standards of the majority of the population are changing; income gap between the poorest and richest groups in society; opportunities available to the majority of the population to achieve their life goals, integrity and stability of political behavior; and correlation between modernization policy and traditional types of consciousness and social action (Table 2.6).

LEVEL OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE TERRITORY is evaluated using the following indicators: availability of information about natural resource potential and its utilization; possibility of obtaining new information; the extent, to which information flows from different agencies are correlated in time and space; and the extent to which information acquisition and its analysis correspond to the tasks of environmental management (Table 2.7).

Table 2.5. Typology of the ecological-social-economic situation



Brief characteristics



Long-standing, pervasive and acute environmental, social and economic problems. General economic recession. Redistribution of ownership rights has only occurred in the manufacturing sector and has hardly begun with respect to natural resources. Financial stress. Absence of innovations in the resource saving and environment protection sectors. The previous environment management system is no longer efficient. Decision-making stereotypes of the centralized planning economy are still used.



Some mitigation of environmental, social and economic problems. Changes in the structure of earnings and declining demand for heavy-industry products. Rapid introduction of up-to-date, more productive and environment-friendly technologies. Growing rates of innovative and investment activity. Noticeable decline of energy consumption in manufacturing; some trend toward reduction of per-unit resource consumption. Redistribution of ownership rights accompanied by intensification of work in the natural resource sector. Tougher standards are genuinely applied to industrial enterprises. Fair potential for transition to high standards of environment quality.



Environmental, social and economic problems are solved as they arise. The territory has an efficient economic structure and positive financial situation, and there is real potential for addressing environmental and resource-saving challenges. There is good support for innovation. There is an efficient system of comprehensive territorial environmental management.

Table 2.6. Typology of the political-psychological situation



Brief characteristics



Dramatic decline in the living standards of the majority of people, increasing social inequality, growing gap between the emergent ambitions of the majority of people (with respect to living standards) and what they can realistically attain. Loss of integrity and stability of political behavior; lack of correlation between modernization policy and traditional consciousness and social action. Low awareness of the urgency of environmental problems.



The income gap between richest and poorest has narrowed. Living standards of most people have risen and there are new opportunities for achieving life goals and ambitions. The political behavior of most people has stabilized. Modernization policy is correlated with traditional consciousness and social action. Gradual realization of the need to solve environmental problems.



The difference between incomes of the richest and poorest groups is reasonable, most people have relatively high living standards. Most people have real opportunities to realize their plans and ambitions. Political behavior is stable; Modernization policy is correlated with traditional consciousness and social action. The solution of environmental problems is supported by the majority of people.

Table 2.7. Typology of knowledge levels



Brief characteristics



Mismatched information flows predominate. There is an acute shortage of investments in new research. Access to information is restricted for commercial reasons. Low level of computerization, especially in rural areas.



Step-by-step creation of regional information systems that collect, process, store, use and update data in the form of regulatory legal, methodological, technical and accounting documents, information and map-making materials (including electronic) for legal, economic and environmental regulation of comprehensive resource use in the territory.



Creation and operation of full-scale geographical information systems with geo-simulation modeling of various processes based on steady flows of regional information, which are sufficient for comprehensive resource-use management.

Such extended analysis of territorial conditions makes it possible to sift through the institutions identified (at the first stage) as suitable for import and select those of them, which are most suitable. The import of many unified formal institutions would be difficult in territories where conditions are rated as “unsatisfactory”, since they could not fit adequately with the specific informal institutions that are predominant in such territories. Territories rated as “satisfactory” offer better conditions for import, though the role of informal institutions is still high compared with sustainable democratic systems in developed economies. If the rating is “favorable”, unified formal institutions can be imported and smoothly built into the territorial matrix and the range of imported institutions to choose from is sufficiently large.


This assessment is applied to every institution, import of which appears possible in the existing territorial conditions (Stage 2), to give an idea of how efficient its import would actually be. The assessment uses various criteria that reflect numerous aspects of functioning of the institutions under consideration:

  • legal base (conformity with regulatory legal documents, and with national and international standards);
  • institutional conditions (availability of necessary infrastructure, compliance with the “polluter pays” principle, prevention of pollution and other goals of environment protection);
  • support from public environmental organizations (importance of the given institution for different levels of management);
  • environmental efficiency (to what extent the institution can reduce negative environmental impacts);
  • cost efficiency (efficiency of the institution in achieving the goals of nature conservation);
  • long-term efficiency (whether the institution provides sufficient stimuli for developing and using new technologies, reducing resource consumption, energy consumption in production, etc.);
  • financial inflows (stable financial proceeds from implementation of the new institutions (if applicable));
  • social acceptability (impact on the position of various social groups; the extent to which rules and procedures for the implementation and functioning of the institution are understood);
  • simplicity in use and monitoring of the institution (the extent, to which the institution is simple and inexpensive to use, ensuring that the prescribed requirements are met and its use is monitored);
  • impact on competitiveness (how the institution affects competition);
  • impact on the income (ownership) distribution (how the institution affects the redistribution of financial flows).

The above list is not universal. The criteria used in analysis (their quantity and wording) may differ, depending on the specific conditions of the territory and the details of the challenges to be addressed, but the assessment criteria must be the same when importing more than one institution in order to obtain commensurable results.

In general terms, multi-criteria analysis of imported unified formal environmental institutions requires us to do the following: determine the analysis criteria; assign a scale for each criterion (the range of possible values in points) and weighting factor (in points) showing the degree of significance of this criterion; assess the institution according to each criterion (in points) and, having multiplied it by the weighting factor, obtain the overall assessment figure; and calculate the total aggregate assessment by summing up the results by all criteria. It is important to remember that both the criteria and the weighting factors have to be specified and adjusted in the course of assessment. A general chart for multi-criteria assessment of the efficiency of importing a unified formal environmental institution to a specific territory is given in Table 2.8.

Table 2.8. Multi-criteria assessment of the efficiency of importing a unified formal environmental institution to a specific territory

Assessment criterion

Rating scale

Assessment in points

Weighting factor

Overall assessment (including weighting factor)

Legal base:



to be improved







Institutional structure:



to be improved







Support by the public authorities:










Environmental effectiveness:










Cost effectiveness:










Long-term effectiveness:










Provision of financial inflows:










Acceptability for the population of the region:






acceptable to a limited extent


not acceptable


Simplicity of use and control:










Impact on competitiveness:










Impact on the income (ownership) distributions:






has no impact


The proposed approach for assessing the efficiency of importing unified formal environmental institutions is generalized and relies on a broad range of expert knowledge. It requires the involvement of highly qualified experts armed with knowledge of the relevant territory (its economy, institutional sphere, legislation, etc.) and experience in environment management. Organization of the work is particularly important (meetings and consultations, collection, analysis and the drawing of conclusions from the expert data).

The method has the advantage of being relatively cheap and simple. It provides results in a short time and uses reliable information (expert opinions), which is vital for calculating potential transaction costs. Such assessment, made at an early stage of importation, reduces future costs by selecting institutions that will be most efficient in the geographical conditions of the territory in question. It helps to identify areas where special environmental institutions must be sought out to match the specific needs of the territory. The downsides include dependence on the right choice of experts and rather superficial cost-benefit analysis. So the approach might require the development of additional, more precise research methods.

In any case, the proposed algorithm should not be idealized by assuming it to be a universal mechanism for the assessment of institutional changes in the environmental sphere in the age of globalization. Any such conclusion is unfounded since it would require abstraction from the socio-cultural peculiarities of countries or an assumption that their institutional matrixes only contain formal unified and socio-culturally determined informal environmental institutions that can be harmonized apriori. Such an image of institutional change is based on the linear modernization approach to the development of society, which (as shown in Chapter 1) fails to explain many development processes happening in the world. As civilizations evolve, their socio-cultural foundations do not disappear, but manifest themselves and continue to differentiate the institutional space as before, albeit in new forms. The socio-cultural features of territories are what have decisive impact on the forms, character and efficiency of interrelations between environmental institutions, determining the trend of change of institutional territorial matrices.

We will take a specific example to show how the algorithm can be used to assess the import of unified formal environmental institutions in the specific geographical conditions of a Russian region. Our example is taken from studies of the efficiency of waste treatment management in Yaroslavl Region, which were carried out in 2000 [208].


The work was carried out as part of the federal special-purpose program to promote waste treatment and its results were later used in the preparation of a regional program on the same theme in Yaroslavl. The work used expert appraisal methods, involving top experts in waste management, environmental management, resource-use management, regional development and local government.

The goal was to improve the efficiency of waste management in Yaroslavl Region by selecting and implementing up-to-date economic mechanisms that reduce negative impact on the environment, including the following aspects: reduction of waste volumes; reducing the use of land for garbage dumps, dumping grounds and waste ponds; reduction of waste per unit of output; increasing the volume of waste recycling; saving raw materials, products and energy by use of waste for production purposes; reducing the share of waste that is incinerated or dumped; and creating a market for environmentally safe technologies and waste recycling and processing equipment.

The first stage included an assessment of the advisability of importing economic mechanisms for waste management (as unified formal environmental institutions) from current foreign experience. It was concluded that such import would be expedient. A review of the experience of OECD countries, Eastern and Central Europe and the CIS showed that the main benefit of such mechanisms is to forge a link between waste management issues and the market by the creation of competitive market prices in the waste sphere, thereby making it possible to meet environmental targets at minimum cost.

Assessment of the institutional situation regarding waste management in Yaroslavl Region showed the expediency of importing the following economic mechanisms for waste management: charges (taxes) on the primary extraction of raw materials; charges (taxes) on the manufacture of products; charges for waste collection; charges for waste disposal; charges for waste recycling; charges (taxes) for emissions and pollutant discharges related to waste management; a deposit/refund system; subsidies; trading in pollution rights (quotas); fines; damage compensation; and environment bonds.

In a second stage, the potential for importing the selected waste management mechanisms was assessed based on extended analysis of the territorial features of Yaroslavl Region. The environmental- social-economic situation, political-psychological context and level of knowledge of the territory were judged suitable for use of the following economic mechanisms: charges (taxes) for primary extraction of raw materials; charges (taxes) on the manufacture of products; charges for waste collection; charges for waste disposal; charges (taxes) for emissions and pollutant discharges related to waste management; a deposit/refund system; and fines (Table 2.9).

The implementation of these waste management methods cannot operate with full efficiency in Yaroslavl Region at the present time for objective reasons, but their efficiency will increase as the situation improves. Recommendations have already been made to prepare the import of a further group of economic mechanisms, including charges for waste recycling, subsidies, damage compensation, and environment bonds.

Aggregate assessment (in points) of the efficiency of importing economic mechanisms for waste management in Yaroslavl Region.
Fig. 2.3. Aggregate assessment (in points) of the efficiency of importing economic mechanisms for waste management in Yaroslavl Region.

1 – charges (taxes) for emissions and discharges related to waste management; 2 – deposit / refund system; 3 – charges (taxes) for manufacture of products; 4 – charges (taxes) for primary extraction of raw materials; 5 – charges for waste disposal; 6 – charges for waste collection; 7 fines.

Table 2.9. Assessment of the potential for import of economic mechanisms for waste management in Yaroslavl Region

Regional characteristics
General assessment of
the situation
Economic management mechanisms
Charges (taxes) for primary extraction of raw materials
Charges (taxes) for manufacture of products
Charges for waste collection
Charges for waste disposal
Charges for waste recycling
Charges (taxes) for emissions and discharges *
economic situation
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
Political-psychological situation
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
Level of knowledge about the territory
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
economic situation
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
Political-psychological situation
- +
+ -
+ -
- +
+ -
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
Level of knowledge about the territory
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -
- +
+ -

Key: [-] import is impossible; [- +] import is possible with substantial limitations; [+ -] import is possible with minor limitations; [+] import is possible;

* related to waste management

At the third stage, each of the mechanisms whose import was recognized to be possible and efficient (charges (taxes) for primary extraction of raw materials; charges (taxes) for the manufacture of products; charges for waste collection; charges for waste disposal; charges (taxes) for emissions and pollutant discharges related to waste management; deposit / refund system; and fines) was assessed using the following criteria: legal base; institutional conditions; support from public environmental organizations; environmental efficiency; cost effectiveness; long-term effectiveness; provision of financial inflows; social acceptability; simplicity in use and control; impact on competitiveness; and impact on income distribution. The analysis provided aggregate estimates for each mechanism (Fig. 2.3).

The results showed that greatest efficiency could be obtained from charges for waste collection, fines, charges for waste disposal and charges for primary extraction of raw materials. It was found that charges for manufacturing of products, a deposit / refund system, and charges for emissions and pollutant discharges related to waste management did not offer sufficient levels of efficiency.

The studies carried out in Yaroslavl Region showed that use of the proposed algorithm for assessing the efficiency of import of unified formal environmental institutions (economic mechanisms for waste management) is expedient and can be extended to other territories in Russia, where it can be used in the development and implementation of environmental programs.


Impact of Socio-Cultural Specifics on Enviornmental Institutions

Changes in environmental institutions depend on the socio-cultural specifics of territories because every management entity acts in a definite socio-economic, political and spiritual environment. The socio-cultural space is a synthesis of the inner and outer worlds of the person, of his or her ethical and aesthetic perceptions and activities; it forms the specific human type and influences changes in his or her value system.

Most experts consider human behavior in the “ethics – action” framework to be the external manifestation of deep-rooted ethical conceptions. This is the basis of the behavioral standards, beliefs and preferences, which form the foundation of environmental institutions. So the socio-cultural peculiarities of specific territories affect environmental institutions and, by differentiating the institutional space, determine differences between territorial institutional matrices.

The impact of the socio-cultural peculiarities of territories on environmental institutions is multifaceted and diverse. It acts in two main directions: through ideologies, which determine ethical environmental regulations and constraints; and through prices, which influence the resource user’s decisions in the market. Ideologies exert value-based environmental impact on motivation of the actions of homo responsabilis and are manifested in institutional environmental changes. In terms of economic logic, homo responsabilis acts in the space of prices. Change in the pricing of natural goods and eco-system services is the most substantial consequence of individual actions and expresses them in universal form.

Value-based impact on environmental institutions

The efficacy of environmental management depends on the spiritual culture of society as a whole and its individual members, from the level of the state to that of local communities and each individual person. This is inevitable since, in the process of socialization, an individual receives all kinds of ethical perceptions inherent in the social group, which contain the entire preceding historical experience of the nation in a concentrated form. “… Each group has a certain order of inter-relationships … this official group template for behavior is the ‘backbone’ of the group, onto which other, more detailed, behavioral patterns are imprinted.” [224, p. 142-143].

Undoubtedly, the moral imperative must have priority in addressing environmental tasks. Control or chaos, catastrophe or its prevention, conflict or its civilized settlement, best or worst solution are less technical problems than ethical positions of the management entity and of each manager. The Hippocratic oath is not only the professional credo of the doctor, but expresses his commitment to certain ethical standards. The same idea lies behind the oath of office of a country’s president, the military oath, etc.

The most dangerous situation in the environmental sphere is social “anomy” (lawlessness, disorganization), i.e., the value vacuum, which is characteristic of transition and crisis stages of development, when old norms and values cease to work and new ones are lacking or are not yet fully formed. When there is anomy, the basic motivation to solve socially important environmental problems is lost. People are exclusively concerned with their own immediate advantage and the increasingly deviant behavior of many leads to a consensus that any expenses for the benefit of future generations are “untimely”.

Nevertheless, even in difficult historical periods, environmental values remain explicitly or implicitly present in the motivation of human behavior. They are determined both ontologically and socio-culturally. It is by means of such values that individuals choose the state of the environment, the environmental goods and the objectives of environmental activity, which are of the greatest significance for them. Guided by environmental values, individuals estimate the appropriateness of their own actions and political aims and those of other people.

In spite of their relative stability, environmental values are constantly changing in tune with changes of ethical norms and rules and under the influence of new knowledge. Thus, by the late 20th century the idea of decorating one’s home with animal skins was already regarded in North America and Europe as “mauvais ton”. Environmental values are a part of the overall value system33. Their impact on people’s behavior can be very diverse: from appeals to accept the complete dominance of environmental values and the equality of all living organisms with humans, to a reduction of the value-oriented aspect of ecology, or even its complete neglect and the substitution of environmental values by technical standards for environment quality.

The issue of values has been widely debated in the literature, but the very notion of value remains quite abstract and ambivalent. A Rome Club report for UNESCO (1987) noted that "the concept of value refers to two contrasting ideas. At one extreme we speak of economic values based on products, wealth, prices - on highly material things. In another context, however, the word value acquires an abstract, intangible and non-measurable meaning and value can be defined as ‘what is considered by people to be above all else, what can be aspired to, contemplated, respected, esteemed’”. Such spiritual values include freedom, peace, justice and equity. Similarly we must distinguish between environmental values as ethical goals and as the means of achieving those goals. These values act jointly on the motivation of resource users, thus leading to institutional changes.

This duality has led to two different methodological approaches in considering value-oriented impact on institutions. The first of them views the impact of environmental values as an immediate institutionalization, while in the second case the value-oriented environmental impact is regarded as an economic factor (from external positions).

Direct institutionalization of environmental values is only possible within limits. This is because such institutionalization generally belongs to the sphere of informal practices, which later find themselves expressed in formal environmental institutions. In general, direct institutionalization of environmental values occurs when individuals are “irradiated” with environmental information that directly affects their motivation. Such information impact (as mentioned in Chapter 2) can be considered as a special informal environmental institution. The institutionalization of environmental values is evolutionary and cannot be hurried, because such values have to be perceived, understood and processed by culture. Any attempts to speed up this process, to use autocratic methods, “for the happiness of future generations”, to build environmental values directly as formal institutions implies severe ideological regulation. Ethical values and norms form a system of ethical constraints on human behavior that is supported by society. However, it would be dangerous to view them as the fundamental goals of state government because that could promote ideocratic trends. History offers many instances of the negative consequences of such a course, from the totalitarian regimes of the mid-20th century to the present-day Taliban movement in Afghanistan with its resolute struggle for fundamentalist Islam, which may, for example, involves the destruction of Buddhist temples. So we should be skeptical of the urge to create an “ideal” environmental management system aimed at all-embracing regulation “from above” and based on the model of homo administrativus, i.e., someone who may be without commitment to anyone but himself and be inclined to opportunism, with a degraded sense of personal, responsibility and initiative. In such a scenario the interests of the system are inevitably placed above the interests of people, the power of the minority that has “true environmental knowledge” (i.e., a bureaucracy supported by chosen scientists) over the “environmentally illiterate” majority. In this situation any democratic forms of management are impossible and we have an ideocratic environmental regime in the making. Such a scenario, where “the environmentally desirable end justifies the means” is not far-fetched: very similar political views are voiced by the leaders of the most radical environmental organizations. These views are also shared by numerous professionals in environmental management and they accord well with the “contribute-distribute” logic of the Soviet-era.

Can environmental ideocracy be sustainable and ensure environmental security and the right of future generations to a healthy environment? This is highly questionable, since environmental well-being is directly related to social and economic development, and problems in these sphere (as shown by history) are inevitably exacerbated under any totalitarian power. Rather than encouraging development in harmony with nature, such an approach may well lead to degradation of the natural environment due to increasing isolation of government from ordinary people and growing social polarization. New “contribute-distribute” schemes will arise under a pretense of environmental necessity, causing the growth of destructive behavior. A powerful repressive machine will be needed to maintain the regime, entailing increase of transaction costs, which will be even higher than in a democracy. Business activity will be stifled. The resulting picture is of an impoverished innovative and investment climate (as proved by contemporary economic theory).

In such a situation the government tries to compensate its economic inadequacy by attracting innovations and investments through low prices for natural resources and labor, thus encouraging unbalanced, “dirty” economic growth (where financial capital accumulates much faster than human capital, accompanied by the diminution of natural capital34). The result is stagnation in the medium term and growing risks of systemic crises. Instead of sustainable development, society faces accelerated degradation of natural capital and human capital and escalation of social risks.

The influence of environmental values can also be considered from the external standpoint as an economic factor. The problem of internalization of externalities is one of the most important contemporary issues in the economics of environmental management. It is recognized that adequate valuation of natural goods and eco-system services requires the adjustment of existing market prices towards a more accurate estimate of the environmental factor35. This approach aims to measure the full economic value of natural goods and eco-system services in the context of the interrelationship between the environment and the economy, treating the value of an environmental good as its utility relative to other goods expressed. The issues has been researched in the framework of the environmental management by foreign scientists (A. Markanya, D. Dixon, D. Pearce, М. Monasinghe) and in Russia (S.N. Bobilev, A.A. Golub, R.A. Perelet, E.B. Strukova, etc.)

Environmental management economics, at its present stage of development, does not consider the institutional problems of environment work because it is still following in the footsteps of neo-classical economics, which is committed to the “homo economicus” model, the notion of the market as a perfect mechanism, and attempts to correlate actual development models with the theoretical model of the perfect market rather than with other, real-world models. The perfect market internalizes negative side effects and produces efficiency, including environmental efficiency: the pursuit of profit maximization by means of market forces leads automatically to social and environmental good, without any ethical motivation of individuals. The irrelevance of ethics in a perfect market is most aptly expressed in Mandeville’s paradox stating that individual vices lead to the social benefit because nobody can assess the ethical consequences of specific economic actions [137]. So there is no need to wish good either to society today or to future generations or nature as a whole, because good will come about in any case as a side effect of selfish motivation.

However, there are no perfect markets in real life as economic actors never possess complete information for the internalization of externalities [106]. As it is impossible to obtain complete information on the environmental effects of economic activities (especially for future generations), spending on environmental monitoring can only be increased up to a certain limit, beyond which economic and social development will slow down and capacity for financing of environmental measures will be reduced.

Recognition of this information constraint leads to a number of important conclusions for environmental management. Any negotiations about environmental impacts. as well as specifications of ownership rights and protection of such rights as a result of environmental impacts, can never be based on full information. There will always be costs related to destructive behavior that breaks the terms of contracts to grab unilateral benefits, particularly with regard to shared natural resources. Environmental values have to be considered as value-based development constraints and regulations. All these considerations make it necessary to assess environmental changes not only in environmental and economic terms but also in the ethical categories of good and evil.

So assessment of the effect of environmental values from external stand points (as an economic factor) is certainly useful for addressing some specific tasks (designing strategies and programs for comprehensive development of territories, evaluation of investment projects, setting prices for natural resources and eco-system services, etc.). But it is not sufficient for the analysis of environmental institutional changes, and therefore has only limited application for investigating environmental management issues.

Duality in understanding the impact of values on environmental institutions stems from the difference between the behavioral models of homo administrativus and homo economicus. The limitations of both can be avoided by using the model of “homo responsabilis” who has partial rationality and orientation to values. As shown in Chapter 1, these features are not antagonistic and can be synthesized by applying the methodology of ethical economy. In this approach, ethics and religion form a system of transcendences, of transition into something different and a repeat (iteration) of compensations. Reflecting a certain system of values, ethics corrects and compensates the market, while religion corrects and compensates ethics. In other words, where the economy fails, ethics comes into play, and where ethics fails, it is the turn of religion. The transcendences over individual interest come into force one after another, higher stages compensating the drawbacks and omissions of those below. It is significant that in using the behavioral model of homo responsabilis value-based incentives and moral constraints of the institutional environmental changes are not viewed as secondary to the priorities of economic rationality. Two critically important conclusions for environmental management follow from this. Firstly, it is wrong to identify environmental work as such with transaction costs in the economy. In this context transactions can only mean transactions in the course of environmental work as such. Using this approach we can validate the view that costs of ensuring the rights of present and future generations to a healthy environment are obligatory, that they cannot be omitted under any circumstance in favor of some present-day economic expediency. Secondly, recognizing individual moral responsibility, even in case of partial rationality, lets the impact of values in the environment sphere operate to increase rationality of the external effect of environmental institutional changes. It is useful to consider how values in the environment sphere have impact on institutions in the sphere of nature conservation.

Environmental ethics and religion as the main sources of value impact on institutional change in the sphere of nature conservation

The issue of environmental values is studied mainly as a part of environmental ethics, which is a branch of humanitarian thought within general ontological ethics. The development of environmental ethics has been a long and complicated process. Much time was needed for people to understand that they all had equal rights to a favorable environment, irrespective of the color of their skin, race or nationality. It has been even harder to reach an understanding that all of nature’s species have inner value, that the Earth is a common home to all who live on it and, finally, for people to decide how they ought to act in the light of such understanding.

Non-acceptance by society of the rights of living nature to equal exchange is a problem of justice, and the problem of justice in man’s relationship with nature, by analogy with the social sphere, requires mediation between opposing claims. Except that, in the given case, the opposition is not between the claims of subjects of law but between the aspirations of mankind to economic expansion and the necessary conditions for preservation of the natural world. As shown in Chapter 1, justice towards nature requires recognition that the natural world has certain rights, regardless of how it is used by mankind, and requires that the intrinsic value of natural objects should be taken into account when making economic decisions. The exchange between man and nature also highlight the necessity for changes to economic ethics based on considerations of justice. In its most radical form, the ethical proposition that everything in nature has its own inner value or dignity has been expressed in eco-centrism, which is the basis of “depth ecology”. It maintains that the “anthropocentric” world view, which puts human beings in a privileged position, is no better than the conviction of the ancient people that the Sun and stars rotate round the Earth, and that no single species (including the human species) deserves to be privileged.

Those who propose extending ethical norms to nature are often criticized for radicalism and the impracticability of many of their proposals in the framework of contemporary social system is pointed out. Indeed, assuming such a position of reverence towards life, what is to be done, e.g., with rats, mosquitoes and pathogenic germs? There are no answers to such questions yet. The idea of extending ethical norms to nature has also been criticized from a socio-political standpoint. One evident danger of such views is that they entail the loss of human individuality and thereby absolve individuals of responsibility for addressing the problem of good and evil with respect to nature and to other people. The individual resigns himself to the idea that experts, who are capable of understanding “special” environmental values, will speak in the name of nature as the supreme absolute. Such attitudes are fraught with the risk of environmentally-tinged political totalitarianism.

Remembering that truth always lies between extremes, the ideas of anthropocentrism and eco-centrism need to complement and balance one another, finding a meeting point in the contemporary concept of sustainable development. In this respect, there is much to be said for the concept, suggested by N.N. Moiseev, of an “environmental imperative” [158], which commits one species of living nature (human beings) to assume full responsibility for observing “safety rules on Earth”, making man the responsible rather than privileged party.

E. Laszlo [116] is surely right when he says that the environmental ethics of someone who strives to orient all the changes occurring in the biosphere towards increasing its ability to support the life-sustaining activity of people are inevitably anthropocentric, However, human beings do not need to be unjustifiably anthropocentric, since, as a biological species, they possess the natural ability (and consequently the natural right) to exercise the will to collective survival. Therefore both individual and social behavior must be focused on compliance with the compulsory requirement: to support favorable conditions in the biosphere. That means raising the level of people’s responsibility for their actions with respect to nature. Recognizing the rights of the natural world means that people are obliged to resolve the intentional and unintentional negative consequences of their actions with respect to nature and bear responsibility for them.

The environmental ethical attitudes of individuals, which transcend maximization of economic utility (narrowly understood), change value-based concepts of natural goods and eco-system services, providing a moral measure of the environmental utility of their activities, particularly their economic activities, and of the environmental institutional changes themselves. The impact of environmental ethics on environmental ethics is permanent, although the extent and depth of this impact, as well as the significance of ethics as such for environmental work, have differed substantially in different periods of history.

As shown by P. Koslovski [101], the role of ethics is manifested in the effect produced by mutual trust and reliance. In other words, the impact of environmental ethics on nature conservation in any specific society is directly related to the amount of transaction costs, the extent of destructive behavior by individuals, and people’s ability to make collective efforts to internalize externalities and agree on the use of shared resources. The costs of environmental risks will inevitably rise unless people believe in the necessity of compliance with moral environmental constraints and regulations and are prepared to comply with them, since the destructive behavior associated with non-compliance will require extra policing functions by environmental organizations (inspection services, emergency teams, etc.) and additional expenses for environmental monitoring, driving up transaction costs.

So the existence of environmental ethics is a major condition for solving the “free rider” problem and the “prisoner’s dilemma”36 in environment management, and it is a key condition for mitigating the “Tragedy of the Commons”37 in respect of shared natural goods. The essence of the tragedy is that resource users are either unable or unwilling to reach agreement and devise an efficient, long-term strategy for the management of shared resources, even though each of them, in addition to having a short-term interest in maximizing his own profit, is also a bearer of long-term interests for the preservation of shared resources. But the alignment of immediate individual interests and long-term social interests is hindered by transaction expenses. i.e., high costs and complications associated with the development and observance of general agreements, costs of obtaining necessary information, etc. If these expenses are higher than the potential benefits for individuals, agreement will not be reached and the degradation and destruction of shared resources will continue. So recourse to environmental ethics minimizes transaction costs and enables mutual agreements.

Environmental ethics compensates the “inadequacy of the state” in matters of rational resource use and environmental management. Decentralized, free coordination of environmental work can only be optimized when general principles of good environmental behavior become economic incentives for individuals. Otherwise, opportunistic behavior by resource users increases, spending on the environment is perceived as inefficient and avoidable, the costs of environmental work become prohibitively high and activity on environment markets declines or ceases completely.

Environmental ethics, harnessed to economic ethics, makes essential adjustments to the operations of the economy in imperfect markets. It cannot ensure complete coincidence of social and individual interests in environmental management because it would be idealistic to believe that all individuals will, for some reason, conform to the Kantian “categorical imperative”. Responsibility is an integral part of human behavior motivation but it cannot replace all other motives, particularly economic motives. Therefore, the resource user must choose in his behavior between three alternatives.

FIRST ALTERNATIVE.The resource user acts impeccably from the point of view of environmental ethics. He understands the general economic utility of environmentally ethical behavior and takes account of that in his actions. He makes the general interest in nature preservation into his personal interest, i.e., he acts in an ethical manner, regardless of the behavior of other people.

SECOND ALTERNATIVE. The resource user acts in an ethical manner in certain conditions: he is ready to observe environmental rules if other people or the majority of people do the same, but does not follow the rules if he suspects that he would be alone in doing so.

THIRD ALTERNATIVE. The resource user is opportunistic. He understands that it would be better for everybody if everybody complied with environmental rules and restrictions, but considers that it is optimal for him to exempt himself from these rules.

In the third case the individual interprets the situation according to the “prisoner’s dilemma” in game theory, where the prisoner maximizes utility. If everybody complies with the ethical rules, the result will be most favorable for everybody. But he can put himself in an even better position if he alone does not from comply with the rules and restrictions. The dilemma is that he cannot be sure if the others will respond with similar violations when he himself breaks the rules. In this case both he and all others will be in a worse condition than if they complied with the rules. This situation is especially characteristic of shared resources and is the main cause of the “Tragedy of the Commons”, where there is an interrelationship between destruction of the communitarian system in rural areas and increase of the load on biological resources, areas of outstanding beauty and zones that are protected by the community. In urban areas the phenomenon is manifested by increasing pollution of the environment (unsanctioned dumping of refuse, etc.). This occurs even though the polluters usually recognize the importance for society as a whole of protecting the environment.

In a small social group, the “prisoner’s dilemma” is not a major threat, as each member of the group can control the others and insist on mutual compliance. However, the situation grows less manageable where the population is larger and the transparency of their behavior is harder to achieve. Expansion of the market, upsurge of communications and of the number of reference groups makes “face-to-face” control impossible. Informal pressure, practiced by traditional communities (unlike exchange-based communities), also ceases to be applicable. So the more numerous and impersonal a society becomes, the greater are the incentives to break the rules at others’ expense, taking advantage of the anonymity of crowds. But, at the same time, the effectiveness of competition and pricing mechanisms is expanding, and such narrow opportunistic economic behavior cannot be sustainable. So the third behavioral alternative must inevitably be transformed into a more ethical alternative (the second or the first) or into an external enforcement system that entails additional spending on sanctions and control.

The second behavioral alternative represents a typical middle way, which is appealing to most people. The individual acts in an environmentally appropriate manner if others act similarly, but he stops doing so when he suspects that he is alone in being virtuous. This ethic transfers the “prisoner’s dilemma” into a situation of trust or guarantees. If the community is characterized by general compliance with ethical rules, the “isolation paradox”38 (the term used by A.K. Sen) would be transformed from the second alternative into a situation of relative security. So individuals will only choose general compliance in preference to general non-compliance where universal environmentally ethical motivation predominates. In this way environmental ethics solves the “prisoner’s dilemma” in nature conservation: its impact enables the individual to opt for compliance with the environmental rules and restrictions in a situation when these are observed by everybody except for him.

But this situation is not stable because there can only be a very general guarantee that other people, or at least the majority of them, comply with the existing rules and restrictions. One must agree with A. Sen that generally accepted values are what transform the third alternative (the “prisoner’s dilemma”) into the second (“game of guarantees”), because the individual will no longer feel uncertain about the ethics of other people’s preferences [441, p. 109-110]. The guarantee can only be relative. Whether environmental values are recognized by all resource users and whether each specific resource user acknowledges such universal recognition is the main problem (the “isolation paradox”).

Consideration of the second behavioral alternative leads to two questions. Firstly, for how long will the resource user be ready to comply with environmentally ethical norms if most others (in his opinion) are violating them or if he is not sure of the actual behavior of the others? How can the resource user reduce the uncertainty and his lack of knowledge with regard to others? Ethical economy has shown that the attempt to answer such questions relying on internal principles of ethics always lead to a petitio principii39 [101, p. 43]. In our case environmental ethics will be recognized by each resource user if it has already been universally recognized, i.e., the “isolation paradox” associated with the recognition of environmental ethics can be overcome if the ethics is already valid for all. Thus, the ”prisoner’s dilemma” and the ”isolation paradox” can only be overcome by environmental ethics if each individual, irrespective of the position of others, recognizes the ethical rules and makes them the motives of his economic activity.

In an ideal case, this is the requirement of the Kantian “categorical imperative”: the ethical maxim must be obeyed out of absolute respect for the law without any empirical considerations of utility. As V.S. Soloviev wrote: “There is only one self-sufficient and unconditional law for man as such, namely ethics, and only one necessity, namely morality” [220, p. 368]. He also stressed that without ethical principles economics loses its good sense and that “the ethical regulation of economic relations would also be economic progress” [ibid., p. 382]. However, the first behavioral alternative (basically Kantian), which makes no reference to the behavior of others, raises the issue of whether transcendental environmental ethics can be implemented in the conditions of finite human existence (Chapter 1). The ethical agent behaves according to the “categorical imperative” even if the consequences are disagreeable and other individuals do not comply with the rules, but follow self-serving goals. In the Kantian perspective there is no “isolation paradox”.

This general overview of the main methods of economic activities from the standpoint of environmental ethics has shown that the third and second alternatives are unstable, i.e., they do not explain why individuals should comply with environmental ethical norms and rules. But the first alternative (pure morality without reference to the behavior of other people) is improbable and would require moral heroism and additional arguments to substantiate the “benefits” of such behavior.

Religion corrects the inadequacy of environmental ethics by compensating for its lack of self-sufficiency through belief in its reasonableness, converting the empirical uncertainty of the “isolation paradox” into religious conviction in the reasonableness of ethics. The religious substantiation of morality can give guarantees and lend transcendental meaning to environmentally ethical behavior, i.e., transform the situations of the “prisoner’s dilemma” and “isolation paradox” into situations with guarantees. Religion gives the individual a conviction that the paths of environmentally ethical behavior and individually perceived happiness will ultimately converge. It provides grounds for ethical behavior, even when the individual is not sure of the behavior of others.

At the same time, religion is not merely a refined means of social control over natural resources use, ensuring the benefit of environmental goods for present and future generations, where social expectations of behavior are merely internalized and become more oppressive for individuals. The concern about future generations is inextricably linked to the question of the meaning of life. From the materialistic, atheistic point of view the phenomenon of individual human existence is the result of random chance in natural processes and does not have any sense. In the perspective of religious ethics, the need to preserve favorable conditions for people on Earth is combined with the fundamental belief that human life and the natural environment that supports it are the result of a “plan from before time began” and are the will of God. Hence the ethical imperative the forbids man from squandering his own life and the life of other living beings now or ever, and that asserts the duty of preserving the environment for himself and future generations. When ethical environmental restrictions and rules are valid for the majority of people and the religious assurance and reasonableness of those ethics are generally accepted, there is an ethical foundation for ensuring the environmental well-being of all. By stimulating moral efforts, religion eliminates the costs of understanding the behavior of other people and adapting to such behavior. So religion not only increases people’s readiness for ethical, environment-oriented action in conditions of insufficient information about the environmental consequences of their (mainly economic) activities, but also strengthens the probability that such readiness will be universal.

It is not accidental that the philosophy of environmental crisis is based on objective idealism [297; 398]. This allows the researcher to abide by the principles of scientific rationality without complete repudiation of contemporary subjectivity, acknowledging that the impact of values on environmental institutions has deep religious roots, without which the individual’s ethical behavior in respect of the environment loses guarantees and lacks transcendental meaning. Of course, “religion” here does not imply any specific confession and assumes, from the point of view of credibility and reason, a profound agreement between religious ethics and the socio-cultural specifics of a society.

The latter is essential because an environmental outlook on the world is a rich source both for traditional religions and for quasi-religious environmental ideologies. As a rule, even strictly scientific “environmental concepts” have a religious tinge and sometimes even claim to express the absolute “environmental good”. Such concepts, even in their materialistic version, suggest verification of the correctness of the design of society’s future by … belief (belief in the professional skills and intuition of the designers or of political leaders). This, to some extent, explains why, although they all start out from recognition of the threat of global environmental catastrophe, different concepts propose a different role and place for man in preventing such a threat and suggest different ways of achieving environmental goals, from liberal-democratic to overtly anthropophobic.

There are several current views on the interrelations between religion and environmental ethics. One of them finds it expedient to accept a new environmentally-oriented ethical doctrine that would supersede traditional religions, a step commensurate in its significance with, e.g., the emergence of Christianity or Islam (calls for such a step have been heard from political and social figures both in Russia and internationally). For instance, the American eco-philosopher, J.B. Callicott, considers that traditional metaphysics and the ethics, which they entail, are the sources of today’s environmental problems rather than the means of their resolution and that the contemporary environmental situation requires reconsideration of Western moral and metaphysical (basically religious) paradigms. V.Ye. Boreiko in his book Breakthrough to Environmental Ethics writes that one of the tasks of environmental ethics is the creation of inner ethical barriers in society, inner taboos prohibiting certain actions with respect to nature, and warns against the “errors” of the commandments of Christianity as thoroughly anthropocentric [29].

The ascription of metaphysical overtones to environmental ethics and any attempt to isolate it from the main world religions is not only impracticable but dangerous, because it will tend to view mankind as a means of achieving some supreme environmental aims. The new environmental theory can then become totalitarian, with all the features of a sect. It would be more constructive (as shown in Chapter 1) to find agreement between the main world religions on vital aspects of environmental ethics. The evolution up to now of nations and civilizations makes it highly improbable that different peoples will assume a new, artificially structured environmental approach, different from their religious and socio-cultural traditions. While taking account of the clearly perceptible ethical and religious elements in environmental concepts, it is important to not to focus exclusively on goals, but to discern and carefully select the means of their achievement from humanistic positions. The designers of environmental concepts and programs must develop environmental institutions that can ensure the compliance of individuals with environmentally ethical imperatives not at any cost, but while stimulating the sustainable development of territories and settlements, reducing environmental poverty of the most underprivileged social groups, and creating equal rights of access to the basic natural resources for present and future generations. Special attention should be paid to democratic institutions that provide horizontal coordination of the efforts of individuals to define and achieve territorial targets and priorities for nature conservation, and to measures that reduce transaction costs in organizing such interaction and prevent destructive behavior by resource users.

Codes of environmental ethics as major environmental institutions

Abstracting from religious transcendence and the problem of religious guarantees, environmental ethics appears to be the only tool that can transform A. Sen’s “isolation paradox” into a situation where everybody’s compliance with environmental restrictions is guaranteed. Ethical norms are expressed in formal and informal environmental institutions, and the “ethical minimum” requires that an individual perceives the universal environmental norms and rules as being in his own interest. In these conditions the most important institution with direct impact is a code of environmental ethics that guarantees universal effectiveness and people’s compliance with basic environmental rules and restrictions. Such a code is an informal standard of behavior rather than official law, and performance of its requirements is not obligatory (the only method of enforcement is approval or censure by the community).

The world has numerous and various ethical codes in the environmental sphere. For instance, the ethical code on experiments using animals has been in place for over a century and many countries (Denmark, Germany, etc.) have legal acts against cruelty to animals. In 1995 the forum “Environmental Policy and Peacemaking across Eurasia” adopted the Public Environmental Code. Earlier, in 1994, N.F. Reimers [207] published the Environmental Manifesto. Those documents establish standards of behavior for the individual and society as a whole. Similar codes are developed at various levels, from global to local.

A global ethical code, which could serve as a common benchmark for behavior, would evidently be of great use [116]. But its creation depends on the alignment of ethical values in the environmental sphere. Traditionally, ethical codes for regulating social behavior were laid down by the great world religions. Examples include the ten commandments of Jews and Christians, calls to the faithful in Islam, guidance for a virtuous life in Buddhism, etc. At the start of the new millennium the need for an ethics that could be the foundation of moral behavior is increasingly recognized. The Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1993 called for creation of a global ethics based on four principles of behavior that have stood the test of time: commitment to a culture of non-violence and respect for life; commitment to a culture of solidarity and a just economic order; commitment to a culture of tolerance and a life of truthfulness; and commitment to a culture of equal rights and partnership between men and women. In the opinion of the representatives of the world’s religions, “this is the minimal ethic which is absolutely necessary for human survival.” This opinion is shared by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which declared in a statement signed by 1,670 scientists, including 102 Nobel laureates, from 70 countries that: “A new ethic is necessary, which must motivate a great movement, convincing reluctant leaders and reluctant governments and reluctant peoples themselves to effect the needed changes.” The ethic which the scientists have in mind refers mainly to the preservation of the environment. It refers to our “new responsibility” for the preservation of the Earth. The document also states: “We must recognize the Earth’s limited capacity to provide for us… We must stop the thoughtless devastation of the earth." Adoption of a moral environmental code could motivate individual and collective work to maintain a sustainable dynamic balance between the biosphere systems that determine the collective well-being of people and the individual well-being of each person.

The practice of drawing up environmental ethical norms and rules has recently been extended to the level of firms and corporations (IBM, Sony, etc.), but attempts by large corporations to use codes of ethics to achieve their own commercial goals are bound to fail because they are not hard to detect. So environmental ethics, interacting with economic and business ethics, reinforces incentives for companies to behave on the market in a way that does not threaten the environment. Environmentally-oriented economic and business ethics can then ensure efficient operation and survival at the same time as proper and expedient use of natural resources. The incorporation of environmental ethical rules and norms in the codes of corporate ethics has not become common practice and the main obstacle is the lack of a code of environmental ethics at higher (particularly global) levels. At the same time, codes of environmental ethics cannot focus exclusively on the goal of global sustainability of the biosphere: global ethical norms and rules that fail to take account of socio-cultural traditions will be perceived by people as alien and as irrelevant to their real life and economic circumstances.

Environmental ethics is closely related to ontological ethics and claims to express absolute values. It is also inseparably associated with social ethics, which has an obvious cultural foundation. From those positions it is wrong in principle to develop an environmental policy, which is insensitive to the socio-cultural features of territories and is aimed exclusively at environmental goals associated with mankind’s survival or, on the other hand, which focuses exclusively on the features of specific territories, viewing them as separate developmental phenomena. Environmental ethics corrects and compensates for the environmental shortcomings of economic activities in the conditions of an imperfect market. Such shortcomings can only be corrected and compensated by religion. Such a model enables deeper insight into the impact on environmental institutions of the socio-cultural features of territories.

Environmental motivation operates institutionally on individual interests through codes of environmental ethics, which, although they are informal behavioral benchmarks (not legal norms), become important environmental institutions thanks to the vital role that they play for individuals in their choice of goals and patterns of behavior.

Humanization of pricing in the natural resource sector and its impact on environmental institutions

The balance between prices for natural goods and eco-system services is a vital source of environmental institutional changes because natural-resource users act and coordinate their actions with others based on price movements. Prices pass through a filter of existing mental structures, which determine their interpretation and initiate institutional environmental changes.

In a perfectly competitive market the agent is “homo economicus” (rational and possessing absolute knowledge of the consequences of his actions), while prices are the bearers of abstract information about the state of the market and form a distinctive “price space” (the term coined by Hayek [293]). Relative changes of prices lead people to rationalize their standards of behavior. However, in real markets, characterized by individuals with limited rationality, information and less than perfect morality, it is not clear how changes of environmental rules and norms correlate with real prices for environmental goods and eco-system services. Moreover, the price levels that come about usually do not reflect the existing structure of monetary estimates of the value of environmental goods and eco-system services.

Understanding of the interrelationships between real prices and institutional environmental changes is complicated by the difficulty of expressing precisely the interaction between relative changes of prices, ideas and ideologies, but also by specifics of the manner in which economic value is formed. In a market economy the value of a good (service), including an environmental good, is used as an indicator of its utility and is determined by its scarcity. Something that exists in abundance and is available to everybody does not have any economic value, however desirable it may be for moral, aesthetic or other reasons. The view of a beautiful landscape has no economic value as long as it is accessible to everybody. When it ceases to be accessible, it acquires potential economic value. If the beautiful landscape is spoilt or the fresh air polluted, these goods become scarce and people start to exhibit their preferences with respect to the quality of those components of the natural environment. In this case the “quality of the environment” is like a good, the value of which hypothetically increases as its scarcity increases. From this standpoint, environmental goods are characterized by the following properties:

  • most of these goods have neither a value nor a respective market (the atmosphere, waterways, landscapes, etc.). For example, clean air traditionally has no value, which leads to its excessive pollution;
  • the use of such goods is socially oriented and socially significant. Many natural resources cannot be owned privately and are freely accessible. However, although formally outside the market system, they become a factor of production, thus generating profit;
  • insufficient attention in existing practice to the analysis of external effects (externalities) of the activities of a company (or individual) for other companies, social groups or individuals who are not involved in these activities;
  • inevitable transaction costs during shared use of environmental goods (costs of negotiations and consultations, arranging and honoring agreements, obtaining information, etc.) and a vague definition of ownership rights in respect of natural resources, goods and eco-system services;
  • uncertainty as to all consequences of economic activities and irreversibility of many environmental processes, aggravated by poor judgment in managerial decision-making, prioritizing short-term consequences over long-term interests.

These factors together lead to depletion of the natural capital of territories, accumulation of waste and “transfer” of these problems to future generations40. There may be misunderstandings regarding resource scarcity, and the opinion of resource users as to the value of a resource or facility or the usefulness of some environmental activity for the survival of the socio-cultural community may not be taken into account. Market “failures” distort the motivation of individuals in the course of environmental institutional changes, encouraging destruction of the natural environment. In other words, the real market generates a pricing system, which is not capable of efficiently regulating the allocation of natural goods and acting as an important indicator of environmental institutional changes.

Price fluctuations in real markets can have different consequences: sometimes they lead to institutional changes and sometimes to a review of contracts within the framework of existing rules. According to D. North [166], which of these alternatives occurs depends on the probability of keeping the institutional balance, i.e., a situation where, given the specific balance of power (between market players, organizations) and the contractual conditions that determine economic exchange, neither player deems it beneficial for him to invest in restructuring the contracts. This does not mean that all players are satisfied with the existing rules and contracts. It only indicates that, given the relative costs and benefits that would result from changing the rules of the game, they find such change to be unprofitable.

In any case the players (entrepreneurs, public environmental organizations, NGOs, communities etc.) respond to changes in environmental price relationships either directly, by investing resources in conservation events or taking advantage of new profitable conservation technologies, or indirectly, by trying to change the existing environmental regulations or the mechanisms of their implementation. Comparing the costs and benefits of allocating resources to nature conservation and possible costs for alleviating institutional impacts in the environmental sector, the player makes a decision to engage in conservation. So territories obtain a specific institutional balance with respective prices in the sphere of environment management. For example, when environmental standards are practically unattainable and the polluting enterprise cannot be closed for social or other reasons, the public environmental authorities and the resource user may enter into some sort of individual agreement. This may involve a procedure of interim permits negotiated at formal or informal auctions. Such a low-level institutional balance, which is inherently ineffective from both environmental and economic viewpoints, has been used in Russia for over a decade, reinventing itself in spite of attempts to change it from outside.

Pricing in environment management also determines to a large extent the character of organizational changes. For instance, depending on the benefits to be obtained by purposeful influence on environmental institutions and compliance mechanisms, it may be expedient to invest in the creation of mediators and lobby groups between the resource user and the public authorities in order to actualize potential benefits from political changes. On the one hand, this explains the active lobbying by industrial groups of lucrative institutional changes (as a rule, aimed at making environmental requirements less severe or even as tool of competition). On the other hand, civil organizations and political environmental movements are often weak lobbyists and unable to counter the power of industrial corporates.

From an environmental viewpoint, the situation in Russia in the end of the 20th century appears be dismal: the current price structure is conducive to negative institutional changes in the nature conservation sector, and there is nothing to suggest a change for the better in the next few years. The negative trend is supported by artificially low domestic prices for natural resources compared with global prices, particularly for fuel and energy, as well as the existing taxation system, which is not designed to ensure the best use of natural resource rent for the Russian people. According to S.N. Bobylev [81], this is reflected, among other things, in deterioration of the structure of the national economy, particularly by environmental criteria: the relative weight of the raw-material economy, i.e. resource-intensive sectors (primarily the fuel and energy complex) is increasing while the share of high-tech, knowledge-intensive industries which determine transition to a post-industrial society, is declining.

Economic, monetized estimates of gains and losses related to the preservation of a clean environment and eco-system functions are not a part of the working of Russia’s environmental institutions. The costs for the environment of economic growth are viewed as being of secondary importance: pollution-related sickness and death rates, degradation of the environment, depletion of natural resources, and various other environmental damage are not taken into account in the process of economic decision making and in the design of programs and plans for national and regional development.

But any assumption that, as the market is liberalized, it will advance to a perfect state and its “invisible hand” will ensure the convergence of private and public interests, seems illusory, particularly as regards environmental management. In the conditions of an imperfect market, individuals whose behavior is shaped by the model of homo economicus, who lack environmental ethical constraints and who are guided only by current price levels, will have no concern for present or future generations. They will do their best to escape environmental social constraints, making the price structure ever more unfavorable to the environment. So the behavioral model of homo economicus in the context of imperfect markets cannot ensure efficient institutional reforms.

The situation can only be changed if environmental management in Russia (with its “unecological” price structure, highly opportunistic behavior of resource users, etc.) accepts the behavioral model of homo responsabilis inherent to the majority of people (the existence of a sense of responsibility in human beings is undeniable). Human behavior may be only partly rational, but our sense of responsibility (to the future and the present, to family and local community, etc.) in imperfect markets makes it possible to combine a real market pricing system and a system of “humanized” financial valuation of environmental goods and services in order to take account, wherever possible, of ontologically and socio-culturally determined value-based perceptions of such goods and services by people.

This approach enables the creation of a multi-dimensional geo-economic space with better understanding of the motivation of resource users, taking account of both the conscious and unconscious aspirations of people working in environmental management. An assumption of responsible behavior is the only basis for political decisions to make certain institutional environmental changes, which can correct disproportions between actual prices and estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services. Changes of the existing environmental institutions in order to eliminate such disproportions will be accepted by most people as politically sound and economically expedient, i.e. as founded on a principle of justice. Such socially valuable actions can only be motivated by a sense of responsibility.

As a matter of principle, monetary valuations that take account of the socio-cultural specifics of consumer motivation must be based on the theory of total economic value, be compatible with other market valuations (of real estate, land, etc.) and complement them, thus expanding the range of possibilities in the analysis of changes in the price space. Humanized estimates of monetary value affect the motivation of resource users and stimulate environmentally expedient price changes, thus becoming major predictors of the geo-economic space. They help to assess the efficiency of environmental institutions and to analyze various aspects of institutional changes. Our studies in Russian regions revealed a significant disproportion between humanized estimates of monetary value of environmental goods and services and the existing official prices and tariffs [269]. For example, the economic value of Berendeyevka Park in Kostroma, with its social and ecological functions factored in, was found to be more than three times greater than the maximally capitalized proceeds from renting out similar urban sites. In the context of economic crisis, such differentiations prompt socially unjustified extraction of environment rent and degradation of the most ecologically and socially valuable natural sites.

This example demonstrates that humanized estimates of monetary value should complement actual prices to create a system of indicators of the institutional environmental changes, which are desirable for the local community. So a territory obtains a new, more sustainable data base for environmental reforms by making it possible to identify the trends, specifics and limits of possible institutional changes for the achievement of environmental goals that are desirable and acceptable for the general public.

Such a methodological approach to the analysis of institutional environmental changes does not seem too theoretical in the context of changing understanding of the concept of utility at the start of the third millennium. The post-industrial society has a quite different aspect compared with the (gradually disappearing) industrial society, where the main aim of people has been to provide for their sustenance and where nearly all goods had utility and could be consumed. In the post-industrial society special value attaches to the individual utility of non-renewable goods, which does not so much reflect the real need of society for those goods, but rather the subjective wishes of each person, associated with the development of his or her personality. [83, 242]. It is therefore reasonable to assume that, as post-industrial trends take root, the socio-cultural specifics of territories will be increasingly viewed as a necessary component of monetary estimates of environmental goods and services, ultimately being expressed in real prices and the innovative appearance of territories.

In what way do prices and estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and services effect environmental institutions? Changes in preferences and price relations lead to gradual erosion of what is considered to be “standard” in behavior towards the environment, and its replacement by new standards. As time passes, it may happen that a formal environmental institution is changed or simply falls in to disuse. This happened, for example, when revolutionary change in the price structure in Russia in the early 1990s proved incompatible with existing environmental standards and rules (ridiculously low fines for environmental violations, inadequate methods of calculating damage to the environment, etc.). The result may be faster development of new environmental rules and restrictions while previous norms are ignored and traditions fade away. On the other hand, the old institutions and organizations, now inefficient from environmental, economic and social standpoints, may persist, leading to stagnation and a low-level balance, where behavior that is “profitable” for each organization and company alone degrades their joint efficiency for the benefit of society.

Informal institutions also change, but the stability of cultural traditions in a context of fluctuating relative prices means that they change more slowly than formal institutions. Growing contradictions between the two can lead to a situation where, in certain socio-cultural circumstances, environmental institutions are ignored by common consent, either explicit or implicit.

The use of cedar forests in Siberia can be taken as an example. In the early 20th century the forests were nationalized. Their attachment to rural communities with a historically formed system of informal constraints was officially abolished. This was accompanied by artificial underpricing of timber and other forestry products (cedar nuts, etc.) in state procurement transactions. So relatively low economic motivation to exploit cedar forest products, strong state power and centralized environmental control ensured that most of the forests were preserved. The revolutionary changes of the late 20th century (market relations, new export opportunities, etc.) bred new formal institutions that stimulated entrepreneurship. There was a substantial rise in prices for cedar timber and particularly for cedar nuts. As a result, predatory logging expanded. The state environmental control authorities, accustomed to work in different institutional conditions, were powerless, and the older, informal environmental institutions of rural communities, having been suppressed in the 20th century, were no longer effective. A survey in Ob-Tomsk district (Tomsk Region) found that local people did not impose any sanctions for violating traditional regulation of pinecone harvesting and that offenders were not even subject to censure.

Table 3.1. “Humanized” estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and services provided by forest areas of special social and cultural significance

Type of evaluation


Gorushka Park, Danilov, Yaroslavl Region

Municipal Park, Kondorovo, Kaluga Region

million rubles


million rubles


Direct use value





Indirect use value (CO2 sink)





Existence value, by subjective evaluation (eco-system services)










Source: Field studies by the Cadaster R&D Institute (Russian Ministry of Natural Resources)

So, fluctuations of real prices can be regarded as an important indicator of changes in the formal and (to some extent) informal environmental institutions. We can measure the environmental orientation of institutional changes and identify contradictions between formal and informal institutions by analyzing humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and services using various methods (Table 3.1).

It is obvious that market valuation of forests by their direct use value cannot reflect their value in terms of preservation of biodiversity, and of environmental and cultural heritage. This shows that humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services can be an important guide for institutional environmental changes, and correlation of these estimates with actual market prices provides an important criterion for the efficiency of environmental management, showing the extent to which current prices and the corresponding institutional conditions in the resource-use sector are adequate to the socially and culturally determined preferences of people.

Comparison of humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and services with real market prices enables the researcher to identify institutional changes, which will be supported by people in specific places. This is useful for assessing the attractiveness of innovative environmental activities in a specific territory because it brings out contradictions between the economic motivation of private investors (focused on real market prices) and social interests (mainly expressed in humanized estimates of monetary value of environmental goods and services).

Humanized monetary estimates of environmental goods and services do not require a completely new approach, but are a matter of lending more importance to direct and indirect non-market values in the structure of overall economic value, thus taking due account of the opinions of ordinary people about the environmental value and social importance of natural sites and goods, of the significance of cultural and social heritage in the general context of sustainable development. Such an approach corresponds well to the main features of the homo responsabilis model in the socio-cultural methodology of environmental management. In order to understand the behavior of someone who is partially rational and whose actions are value-based, it is not enough to evaluate environmental goods and services from an expert’s objectivist standpoint or based on global market prices. The interests and value-oriented preferences of individuals and local communities (particularly territorial communities) must be taken into account.

The choice of the evaluation method when applying humanized monetary evaluation of environmental goods and services depends much on the socio-cultural conditions of specific territories. This factor must already be taken into account when the data base for studies is being assembled, including scope and quality of the required information (qualitative and quantitative), and the forms and methods of its selection and processing (use of statistical methods, planning and design of surveys, questionnaires, interviews, etc.). For instance, there are special difficulties in the use of written questionnaires or telephone surveys when conducting studies in rural areas, where the use of structured interviews is more efficient, although it requires more time and resources.

Knowledge of the socio-cultural context is also necessary for understanding the results of estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and services, obtained using various methods. Such knowledge it essential for interpretation of findings, identifying trends and clarifying the nature of institutional environmental changes. Study of the resource ownership institutions in a specific territory and the opinions of people as to what type of environmental management is fair and proper is particularly important. If, for example, a researcher does not take account of the communitarian attitude of the rural people in central Russia to water sources, it would be difficult to understand the low valuations of water obtained in the survey using the subjective method (measured by readiness to pay for water).

So changes in methods of economic evaluation of environmental goods and services, particularly in the context of Russia’s transition to a post-industrial society, should be focused on enhancement of the humanistic orientation. This requires a reconsideration of the role and significance of subjective and indirect estimates in a theory of total economic value, to be regarded not as mere supplements to market valuation but as having special meaning and importance. The estimates should be used in carrying out environmental-economic inventory, particularly at local level. In this way humanized estimates of monetary value become a way of studying the particular when examining aspects of resource use in each specific location and the environmental institutions inherent to such use.

Humanized estimates of monetary value of environmental goods and services as geo-economic indicators (research in Russian regions)

Humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services can be of great importance in the study of spatial economic systems because they help to understand what can be predicted for the future based on the present condition and dynamics of a geo-economic space in the light of people’s environmental preferences. The use of such estimates as numerical information expands the scope of quantitative methods of geographical research. Such statistical methods collect, process and analyze mass data and are used in the study of various social, economic and other processes and phenomena, including at territorial level [135, p. 209-212]. Relevant numeral indicators are used in the description of territories from the standpoint of sustainable development. They become elements of management processes and are used in decision-making. Sustainable development indicators are functional and are territorially determined [180, p. 25].

Humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services can be used as geo-economic indicators because they are increasingly used as statistical information. Such use is promoted by the ever wider acceptance and global spread of the theory of total economic value. Monetary evaluation of environment goods and eco-system services based on unified methods enables comparative studies to be made. For example, all US national parks use such estimates, which help to expand the possibilities of economic-geographical research. The indicator of natural capital calculated on the basis of total economic value is used by the UN and World Bank as a statistical indicator for international comparison [81]. Humanized estimates of monetary value are essential in countries with a resource-based economy, especially when the load on the environment increases and the spread of ecological and social damage expands due to depletion (both qualitative and quantitative) of basic resources, liquidation of protected environmental areas, recreation zones and natural and cultural monuments, and loss of biodiversity.

The analysis of territorial development using monetary estimates of environmental goods and eco-system services as geo-economic indicators showing the real preferences of resource users is based on the environmental-economic accounting approach used by the UN. This approach aims to achieve comprehensive inventory by territories of the natural resource stock and its exploitation (including households and the informal sector of the economy), measurement (in real and, as far as possible, monetary terms) of resource depletion as a result of direct extraction and quality deterioration, identification of the preferences of resource users in respect of environmental goods and eco-system services (primarily shared), and inclusion of these factors as respective estimates as part of the accounting system (on a par with direct estimates).

Such analysis was carried out by our team in 10 constituent entities (administrative regions) of the Russian Federation through the Cadaster R&D Institute as part of work to improve accounting and socio-economic evaluation of natural resource potential, led by the Russian Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources since 199341. Large-scale project work for integral, comprehensive accounting and socio-economic evaluation of natural resources was first carried at local level in Danilov district of Yaroslavl Region in 1996-1997 [369]. The work included: analysis of the region’s natural resource accounting system and basic estimates of main natural resources in the district (water available for use, minerals and forestry resources, both as timber and for their recreation value). This was the first time in Russia that both market and non-market (direct and indirect) methods were used to estimate the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services.

These methods were used at the level of regions in 1998-2000 to calculate the natural capital of Yaroslavl, Tomsk, Ryazan and Kaluga Regions. Regional matrixes of environmental-economic accounting were prepared as part of the research [204,410]. Review of the findings, carried out in 1996-2002, established major vectors for the use of humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services as economic-geographical indicators to improve environmental management and enhance the sustainability of resource use at different territorial levels, both regional and local.

Natural and physical capital in Yaroslavl Region (in comparable prices)
Fig. 3.1. Natural and physical capital in Yaroslavl Region (in comparable prices)

The efficiency of environmental management is estimated by comparing the first and second variants of regional matrixes of environmental-economic accounting, based on humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services.

The first variant of the matrix contains data evaluating the region’s natural capital (amount, structure, dynamics). Trends in the correlation between the natural and physical capital over a number of years provide further useful information on regional development. The data for Yaroslavl Region are presented in Fig. 3.1 and show an increase of the proportion of natural capital relative to physical capital by nearly 9% during the review period. This is explained by a higher rate of depreciation of physical capital relative to natural capital (unadjusted for inflation) and entails an increasing role of the latter in providing short-term development sustainability. However, for a more comprehensive estimate of the role of natural capital in the region we must determine its development structure and identify the resources whose utilization has maximum effect on its value.

The results of the calculation of the natural capital of Yaroslavl Region (as the total value of its components) and the corresponding first variant of regional social ecology-economic accounting for 1996 are given in Tables 3.2 and 3.3. The regional comparison of the figures for natural and physical capital (Fig. 3.2) leads to an important conclusion on the character and prospects for development at regional and federal levels. The graph in Fig. 3.2 clearly shows greater dependence of the economy in Yaroslavl Region on local natural resources than is the case in Kaluga and Ryazan Regions.

Shares of natural and physical capital in different Russian regions in 1996.
Fig. 3.2. Shares of natural and physical capital in different Russian regions in 1996.

The structure of natural capital and priorities in the use of natural resources largely explain the specifics of resource use in a region (Fig. 3.3). We can see that the greater part of natural capital in Tomsk Region consists of mineral resources (36,386 billion rubles or 65% of the total value of natural capital), while in Kaluga Region it consists of agricultural land (1,325 billion rubles or 41% ) and timber (984.4 billion rubles or 31%), in Ryazan Region water resources predominate (10,608.84 billion rubles or 67% of the total value of natural capital), followed by agricultural land (3,830.4 billion rubles or 24%), and in the Yaroslavl Region water resources account for nearly the whole natural capital (23,431.4 billion rubles or 91%). Environmental-economic accounting matrixes help to identify territories where natural resource depletion may become a serious problem in the medium term.

Structure of natural capital at the start of 1996
Fig. 3.3. Structure of natural capital at the start of 1996

Table 3.2. Total monetized values of natural resources in Yaroslavl Region (1996, billion rubles)

Type of resource

Stock and usage trends

Water resources

Other resources

Bee keeping





agri-cultural land

timber resource of forestry

non-timber resource of forestry




mineral resources

Opening stock













Use of industry products


Domestic production





Use of fixed assets





Net value added


Gross industry output


Other volume changes:


Result of economic decisions







Natural and multiple reasons






Revaluation due to market price changes













Closing stock













Share in the total, %













The data that are needed to estimate the impact of environmental activities on the present state and use of natural capital can be obtained by compiling the second variant of the regional social environmental-economic accounting matrix. The main element of this matrix is the recording and evaluation of different types of environmental management and their impact on basic macroeconomic indicators in the territory. Fig. 3.4 shows the structure and dynamics of environmental expenditure in Yaroslavl Region in 1995-1997.

The period saw an increase in the share of businesses in total environmental expenditure while respective spending by regional and local budgets decreased. Overall environmental spending grew, but its share in macroeconomic indicators (e.g., GDP) remained extremely small (less than one percent42). So regional analysis of environmental management based on the second variant of the social environmental-economic accounting matrix is less than expedient at the present time. It can be more usefully applied in sector-wise analysis (by industries and types of pollution).

As can be seen, the findings of regional studies showed the importance of estimates of monetary value of environment goods and eco-system services as economic-geographical indicators for the assessment and macroeconomic analysis of the sustainable use of natural capital. This analysis helps to determine the specific characteristics of the natural resource base in a region, which is significant for the optimization of regional and federal socio-economic policy.

Structure of environmental spending in Yaroslavl Region in 1995-1996 (at current prices)
Fig. 3.4. Structure of environmental spending in Yaroslavl Region in 1995-1996 (at current prices)

The use of humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-services is of particular significance at the local level. The experience of urban development as summarized by various international forums (LA-21, Habitat 1 and 2, etc.) shows that quality of life cannot be improved without following principles of sustainability, using and replacing natural capital, and improving environmental management mechanisms.

Studies in 1999-2002 at urban level (the city of Yaroslavl) and rural district level (Pervomaisky district of Yaroslavl Region and Tomsk district in Tomsk Region) showed that it is possible and useful to prepare social environmental-economic accounting matrixes (similar to those used for whole regions). Such monitoring matrixes help to identify potential resource depletion threats, which can then be prevented in good time through institutional and organizational measures. Social environmental-economic accounting matrixes create a new data base for coordinating economic, social and environmental policies through continuous monitoring of how the consumption of basic natural resources and environmental events impact resource use (sustainable or unsustainable) and the value of resources. This is of critical importance for the adjustment of environmental work (including institutional regulation) to match the goals of sustainable development.

Humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services can also be used effectively to address specific environmental management tasks. The large-scale research carried out in Russian regions43 identified some typical issues. They include: how to prevent and resolve environmental conflicts between cities and adjacent territories; how to preserve biodiversity and develop nature conservation areas; how to preserve urban parks and green spaces as a component of the natural capital of cities; and how environmental goods and eco-system services of local territories can be used more effectively and comprehensively. We developed special algorithms of environmental management for these purposes using humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services based on ISO 14000 standards [282].

Overall, the results of the regional studies enabled us to formulate proposals for raising the efficiency of environmental management taking account of the territorial specifics of resource use (including the preferences of local people) and judge the extent to which the existing system of resource accounting and evaluation provides the information, which is needed for efficient environmental management. The studies confirmed a need to specify and supplement existing indicators of market prices by data obtained by studying the economics of households, including evaluation, in physical and monetary terms, of the legal and illegal use of natural resources. The resulting system of territorially specified indicators, reflecting rent flows in the natural resource sector, plays an important role in economic-geographical analysis.

The studies also revealed the inadequacy of existing statistical and departmental data for calculating indicators that are needed for comprehensive territorial environmental-economic accounting (Insert 2). Additional field studies appear to be necessary throughout Russia in order to identify unrecorded natural resource stocks and their use, particularly by households and in the shadow economy.

Insert 2

The current state and major issues of statistical and departmental data for comprehensive territorial environmental-economic accounting.

Most natural resources are accounted in statistical and departmental forms in physical terms. A large part of essential data is spread over departmental documents at different levels, which makes it difficult to find and analyze. Also, there are discrepancies between the documents issued by different departments (e.g., tax services and territorial statistics departments). This makes it difficult to find and summarize data (both physical and monetary) on the availability and use of natural resources.

Information on the availability of natural resources held in statistical and departmental accounting systems is inadequate, and for some resources there is no such accounting at all. For instance, there is very little information on non-timber forest products in forestry management documents, making it impossible to carry out proper analysis of minor forest products in the territory. Also, there is hardly any information on bee keeping, though this industry generates considerable revenue in many regions. As regards mineral resource accounting, recording of proven reserves is less than adequate, due both to the complexity and high costs of prospecting and to incomplete records of deposits (particularly small deposits of construction materials).

There are major omissions in statistical and departmental data on the consumption of natural resources. The statistical accounting does not cover water users whose consumption is less than 10,000 cubic meters per year, so that large amounts of consumption and large numbers of individual consumers go unrecorded. Adjustments are also needed in respect of forest resource consumption (timber and non-timber products) as large amounts are not reported in the informal sector and households. This is of particular importance since the fall in income of the rural population has made forest resources into a vital source of survival (informal logging and use of other forest products such as mushrooms, berries, nuts, medicinal plants, ferns, etc.). The situation is similar for fish and game resources: only licensed consumption and procurement by major entities are registered, while consumption by households and the informal sector (unlicensed harvesting or poaching) are not accounted. For instance, the survey in Ob-Tomsk district of Tomsk Region found that actual fishing by households in 2000 exceeded official data on commercial and amateur fishing by two times (according to a poll of local inhabitants). Large amounts of consumption of minerals resources for construction purposes are also not recorded in accounting systems (up to 30%, according to regional surveys). This is explained by the specifics of resource procurement for road building and other factors.

These examples reflect only the most significant issues in the accounting of stocks and use of natural resources, but they are sufficient to illustrate the need for reform of statistical and departmental information systems. Clearly, reforms are needed to ensure more accurate recording of the rate of depletion of specific natural resources, particularly those of key importance for regional budget revenue, at national, regional and sub-regional levels. For renewable resources the assessment should compare actual consumption with rates of replacement to avoid undermining renewal. For non-renewable resources, the aim should be to find ways of increasing stocks or providing an adequate alternative source of income in case of depletion.

A special role is played by the analysis of rates of local natural resource depletion. However, existing systems for the accounting of most resource stocks and their use do not provide figures at the district level. For example, the city of Yaroslavl is in the area served by the Yaroslavl Forestry Enterprise and has a forest stock of 413 hectares. Since this is less than one percent of the total forest area served by the Enterprise, the city’s forest stock is not singled out in any of the accounting forms and the cost of works in respect of the city’s forest areas are included in total statistics for the Enterprise. This complicates efficient management of forest capital in the city of Yaroslavl.

Making humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services and their inclusion in environmental management processes at all levels of territorial organization present serious difficulties, which are rooted in basic features of the dominant institutional matrix. Byzantism, imperial traditions and the legacy of the Soviet era are all centered around a “system-serving” behavior model, which places public interests above private interests and accords little value to individuals in the development of society. While earlier waves of modernization could be carried out “from the top down”, without any substantial adjustment of Russia’s underlying informal institutions, the current transition to a post-industrial development model cannot be effected by those methods (see Chapter 2). At the same time, attempts to solve the problem through economic liberalization without reform of the institutional system towards humanization and proper attention to the socio-cultural foundations of the development, in a context of weak civil society institutions and self-government, political lethargy of ordinary people and weakness of most political parties, is leading to greater alienation of people from government, social polarization and destructive behavior by a large part of the population.

Unfortunately, the need for humanization of environmental management and prioritizing of this issue in institutional environmental changes at the current stage of Russia’s modernization have not been recognized politically. Officials in the federal government still believe that the tasks of humanizing environmental management, taking due account of the positions and preferences of all social groups in a territory, are not the responsibility of national government, but should be left to local authorities44. But most regional elites do not recognize the fact that humanization of management, i.e., the use of humanized estimates of the monetary values of environmental goods and eco-system services in their cost and benefit calculations and due account for the interests of households (particularly in rural areas), is a major step towards overcoming the crisis in environmental management.

In contrast with the situation in developed economies, which have already moved to a post-industrial development model, Russia faces the difficulty of introducing humanized monetary estimates of environmental goods and eco-system services into its existing institutional matrix, which retains the features of the “contribute-distribute” economy. In Russia the redistribution of financial and material resources does not take account of the depletion of natural resources from the standpoint of local communities and does not consider the interests of local people and businesses in addressing environmental problems, particularly the preservation of particularly valuable environmental sites. Mechanisms to address such problems are not perceived as urgent in the contribute-distribute economy. Russia is passing through a particularly difficult and uncertain period as regards the improvement of environmental management: humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services are only applied on a test basis in certain territories where there is an understanding of the importance of sustainable development for social modernization. Our regional studies showed that broad implementation of humanized estimates is hindered by the following institutional and organizational factors.

1. INADEQUACY OF THE LEGAL BASE. A national Law on Appraisal has been passed, which declares the use of market values in the natural resource sector, and the new Law on Environmental Protection also calls for the use of such values, but it remains the case that insufficient importance is attached to environmental and social factors in the valuation of natural resources. This leads to undervaluation of environmental goods and eco-system services, particularly in protected natural and cultural sites, so that the free market will only promote their destruction. The undervaluation of water (based on consumer assessments) means that reform in the utilities sector is anti-environmental and contrary to society’s real interests, while the undervaluation of forest resources (both timber and non-timber) leads to imbalanced development of the forest sector, etc.

2. ORGANIZATIONAL PROBLEMS. Practical work in Russian regions requires the overcoming of serious organizational barriers to information exchange between different organizations in the natural resource sector. The necessary interactions have not been defined on many points (absence of regulatory documents, etc.), so that informal relations predominate in the collection, territorial consolidation and analysis of information. The consequence is unjustifiably high transaction costs in resource management.

3. INSUFFICIENT INFORMATION SUPPORT. Numerous seminars and workshops devoted to the monetary valuation of natural resources showed that regional staff throughout the country are not familiar with the methodology of total economic value and the approaches of environmental-economic accounting. They also lack knowledge of foreign experience in addressing economic, environmental and social problems using valuation of environmental goods and eco-system services, and their work is hindered by the predominantly industry-based character of statistical and departmental reporting, as well as the absence of a comprehensive territorial system of data collection and analysis.

All of these problems require political solution because better information support for environmental management requires the use of humanized estimates of monetary values of natural goods and eco-system services as economy-geographical indicators, without which it will be impossible to achieve the modernization that Russia needs in order become a post-industrial society. The new type of information support should help to integrate environmental issues in a general strategy of economic and social development, regulate environmental and resource policy to match the socio-cultural specifics of territories and increase budget efficiency through territorial optimization of comprehensive environmental management. These tasks will require a number of institutional mechanisms that use indicators based on humanized estimates of monetary values in the environment sphere.

Basic institutional mechanisms for the use of humanized estimates of monetary value in environmental management

Humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services are vital indicators of environmental institutional changes. Their application helps to measure the efficiency of existing and newly created institutional mechanisms based on their conformity to the socio-cultural context and ability to involve many social groups in the solution of environmental problems, innovative activities and the increase of environmental investments. The use of humanized estimates of monetary value is most appropriate in respect of environmental strategies and action plans, environment budgets, rating of investments in nature conservation, and the assessment of innovation projects based on their impact on the environment.

ENVIRONMENTAL STRATEGIES AND ACTION PLANS are designed to enable resource managers, social leaders and other stakeholders to reach agreement on specific environmental problems. Until recently such documents were usually created separately from social and economic development programs of territories. This may be harmful for sustainable development and the quality of growth, since it inevitably results in the creation of multi-purpose systems of territorial management and leads to conflicting development goals.

A well-balanced approach to the sustainable development of territories implies optimal use of all kinds of capital (natural, man-made and human). Environmental strategies and action plans must be worked out in this context. The major purpose of all planned institutional changes in today’s Russia must be to support efficient policies of sustainable growth for a successful transition to a post-industrial development model. In today’s globalized world any stagnation at the industrial stage will cause Russia to lag behind the developed economies.

The critical task it to obtain an inflow of innovations and investments to rational use of natural resources and protection of the environment, based on sustainable modernization of the economy and the social sphere. This cannot be achieved without the involvement of ordinary people in environmental management. So environmental strategies and action plans must use tools that enable humanization of the institutional situation, making people the main driving force for sustainable growth45. Sustainable growth is incompatible with degradation of the environment, since rapid depletion of natural resources and environment pollution destroy the very foundations of such growth. But preservation of the environment cannot override the tasks of sustainable development, because the very possibility of preserving the natural world is inseparable from the task of preventing transfer of the burden of domestic or foreign debt to future generations, and preventing a situation where future generations are left with an instable and inhuman political system.

Environmental strategies and action plans in the increasingly globalized and post-industrial world should be oriented to the broad involvement of people in environmental activities and the creation of democratic mechanisms for their participation in environmental management. This cannot be achieved without sustainable development of human potential as a specific, limited and attainable goal. Therefore, environmental strategies and action plans cannot ignore the issues of poverty eradication. The interests of different social groups must be taken into account when providing access to environmental goods and eco-system services. This is particularly important in territories with multi-ethnic populations, as it is one of the conditions for preventing ethnic conflicts.

Patterns of implementation of environmental objectives, which stimulate poverty of the local population and exacerbate social conflicts are not sustainable and must not be supported, because impoverishment leads to wasteful use of the most accessible resources (e.g., forest resources). The best way to solve this problem is to provide institutional changes that stimulate the inflow of investments to rational environmental management and nature conservation, development of markets for environmental goods and eco-system services, creation of new jobs (particularly for the poor), stimulating interest in the preservation of biodiversity, protection of national parks, etc.

In this context, it is increasingly important to use humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services in the development and implementation of environmental strategies and action plans. Such estimates enable the researcher to create a new information base for coordinating common work to maximize social and environmental benefits, and to determine the impact of consumption of major environmental goods and eco-system services on sustainable or unsustainable use of natural capital, thus ensuring the adjustment of environmental policy in accordance with the goals of sustainable growth.

Humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services promote the integration of environmental strategies and action plans into general strategies for the economic and socio-political development of territories, because the evaluation of environmental effects in monetized form makes it possible to determine the role of environmental assets in the formation and movement of money flows. It becomes possible to analyze and predict where and in what amount rent is extracted in the current practice of natural resource use, so that the transparency and social equity of its distribution can be improved. Monitoring of physical and financial flows helps to quickly identify negative processes of natural resource depletion, potential threats of social and ecological conflicts or ecological degradation and to take timely preventive measures via institutional regulation.

ENVIRONMENTAL BUDGET. The most efficient means of institutionalizing humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services as economic-geographical indicators of the efficiency of the territorial system of natural resource management is through territorial environmental budgeting [170]. This is based on standard financial budget procedures (the budget cycle includes drafting of the budget, its review by the executive body with the participation of all stakeholders, approval, performance monitoring, and the compiling of year-end reports and their approval). The environmental budget of a territory is a document for rational environment management drawn up on the basis of political agreement between executive and legislative authorities in order to address urgent problems of territorial resource use. It is based on data reflecting the state of the natural environment and resource use, for the purpose of recording and preventing negative processes. The indicators, which show resource stocks and their consumption, are humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services and calculations, based on those estimates, of the territory’s natural capital.

According to environmental budget methodology, the utilization of the territory’s natural resources must be within the limits of approved indicators, which conform to the goals of the territory’s environmental policy. The goals must be agreed both with local authorities (executive and legislative) and with main social groups, and they must comply with the principles of sustainable development. So the environmental budget is a regulatory document that takes account of the opinions of various political groups.

The environmental budget is prepared and implemented on the following principles: environmental efficiency, i.e., maximum benefits from the use of natural resources; environmental sufficiency, i.e., avoidance of “overspending”; and the achievement of balance at the end of the fiscal year. The budget states top-priority environmental issues and contains their brief overview (including targets in relevant areas). The budget can be prepared based on sectors of the economy (manufacturing, services, households, etc.) or by spatial organization (e.g., city districts). Values are specified by reference to mid-term and long-term environmental goals. At the end of the fiscal year the balance sheet is prepared in order to compare targets with achieved results, both for the consolidated plan and by spatial and sectoral aspects.

The environmental budget is the result of consensus between executive and representative branches of government and has the force of law, imparting legitimacy to environmental management decisions and enhancing the role of communities in limiting and regulating the use of resources in specific territories.

ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTMENT RATINGS. The acute shortage of financing for nature conservation activities in transition and developing economies is widely discussed in scientific and political circles today46. The dependence of this sector on public investments and lack of efficient mechanisms for raising private and corporate funds is of special concern and is also typical for Russia. The specifics of environmental issues are hard to grasp for investors motivated by return on investment, so the interests of environment protection usually receive scant attention in the real investment process.

The investor is typically interested in the benefits which his investment can bring in the light of his motives47 and by the associated risks. So, in order to make a decision, the investor must know the investable sectors, main territories and facilities, regarding which he needs to obtain information on real flows of environmental goods and eco-system services, their economic appraisal and the investment risk. This task can be facilitated by the creation of a system of territorial ratings of Russian regions measured by the investment appeal of their natural resource and environment protection sector, developed using humanized estimates of the monetary value of their environmental goods and eco-system services. This will complement ratings of regional investment appeal that already exist in Russia [313]. Ratings of local territories and economic sectors, companies and firms are also important (the black list of polluting firms and companies, widely publicized by Greenpeace, is an example of this).

It is important to note that environmental indicators for territories are not indicators of the investment appeal of the environment sector. Rather they characterize the acuteness of environmental problems. For example, reduction of the stock of rare species of birds will not directly stimulate investors and says nothing about investment efficiency. What is needed is a comprehensive list of indicators, which help to evaluate the appeal of investing to preserve biodiversity in the specific socio-economic, political and institutional conditions of the given territory. This is obviously a multi-factor problem requiring a synthesis of qualitative and quantitative methods.

Studies in the economics of biodiversity conservation [273] have shown that such indicators need to be developed in two directions. Firstly, for sites and territories where conservation of biodiversity is considered as a non-economic goal (e.g., habitats of rare species). In this case the leading role is played by political considerations and the analysis is performed by consideration of the goal and efficiency in its achievement. For natural sites with economic value (commercial use of bio-resources and eco-system services within permissible limits), investors are interested in economic incentives and the analysis is performed on the basis of benefits and costs.

So a system of territorial environmental innovation ratings, calculated using humanized estimates of monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services, offers a new institutional mechanism that provides real and easily understood signals for investors in the sphere of biodiversity conservation. Its application will improve the innovative and investment climate in the environmental sphere by influencing the institutional conditions of recipient territories.

EVALUATION OF INNOVATIVE PROJECTS FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THEIR IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT is mandatory for all projects in Russia and assumes that, together with evaluation in physical terms, an economic evaluation of environmental impacts should be made using methods that are adequate for a market economy. Firstly, in view of increasing economic globalization and associated import of environmental institutions, such evaluation should use international experience of the environmental assessment of economic projects and political decision-making, with particular emphasis on methods of total economic value. Such assessment is currently treated as a necessary condition for borrowings from leading international banks (the World Bank, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, Asian Development Bank and others). Secondly, the consistent humanization of monetary evaluation of environmental goods and eco-system services helps to take account of the interests of users, and particularly of local people. Such evaluation is particularly important in today’s Russia for addressing problems related to access to shared natural resources and goods.

The use of humanized estimates of monetary value at the early stages of project feasibility studies helps investors and public authorities to plan the order portfolio in a way that minimizes investment risks in the medium and long term. In a situation where precise numerical data are difficult to obtain, even approximate indicators can be valuable. They can help to rule out approaches that are environmentally unacceptable (though appealing from other points of view) at an early stage and to develop investment projects with minimum negative impact on the environment and acceptable investment risks.

Investment mechanisms that use humanized estimates of monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services and promote innovations in nature conservation are not limited to the applications mentioned above. Such estimates can also be useful for other managerial tasks. The difficulties of the transition period in Russia must not be an excuse for refusing to use these methods. On the contrary, their use is even more necessary in this period, because Russia cannot count on a bright future unless it treats the transition to post-industrial development as a strategic goal.

Instrumental Regulation and Prevention of Environmental Conflicts

The efficiency of environmental management in Russia in the context of increasing economic globalization and during transition to a post-industrial development model depends on its ability to combine and integrate imported institutions with its own historically and socially determined institutions and to alleviate emerging or deepening conflicts between them. In other words, the success of the institutional transformation depends both on ensuring that imported environmental institutions are acceptable for the socio-cultural conditions of different Russian regions and on the effectiveness of institutional measures to minimize the transaction costs that are inevitable in this situation.

Prevention or mitigation of conflicts that emerge in the process of importation of environmental institutions requires firm instrumental regulation by means of specially developed socio-cultural environmental institutions. In order to determine and assess the efficiency of such environmental institutions we must clarify the very notion of “environmental conflict” and ways of investigating it.

The literature contains many definitions of the term “conflict”48. Broadly speaking, a conflict arises between two or more parties (participants) where their actions are incompatible. The parties (either direct or indirect) to the conflict are not always evident, so it is often difficult to decide who to negotiate with. In case of conflicts in the environmental sphere it is important to define the point at issue and what needs to be discussed. The issues that arise most frequently are: restriction of access of some social groups to environmental goods or eco-system services; loss of income from previously used natural resources; depriving people of the use of special natural sites (places with religious significance, recreation areas, parks, beaches, etc.); damage caused by water and air pollution, impoverishment of soil quality, etc.

An important role in environmental conflicts is often played by contradictions between the values and cultural patterns that determine individual behavior, since environmental work is bound up with concern for present and future generations. Such contradictions are invariably the point at issue in environmental conflicts. They may be of an economic, political, religious, ideological, ethnical or other nature and can be manifested politically (by the attitude of the parties towards government, or through nationalism and imperial ambitions, etc.) or economically (demands to change taxation and tariffs, claims to a share of the available resource rent).

Conflicts always concern the needs or wants of the parties (for environmental security or provision of development resources to social groups), their interests (what the party to the conflict wants, how it defines its needs), and their goals and values (the criteria by which the specific party defines its interests based on its needs). Values in this context are axioms that are not capable of proof. The categories of needs, interests, values and goals and their interrelationship have been profoundly studied in Russia [80; 117], so we have a well-developed methodology to hand for studying conflicts in the environmental sphere, always distinguishing between the notions of values and goals and, accordingly, between value-based and goal-based conflicts.

Value-based conflicts, rooted in cultural, religious or ideological traditions and norms are very difficult to settle. Some writers even conclude that such conflicts are impossible to prevent in principle [240; 296]. We will therefore omit consideration of value-based conflicts in the initial stage of our overview of the methods of instrumental conflict settlement49. Conflicts related to environmental goals (teleological conflicts) are more diverse. They may arise from contradicting values and from other mental differences between resource users, within the context of a single civilization and culture. Such conflicts can often be controlled or even prevented using various instrumental measures.

A distinction should also be made in the environmental sphere between inter-personal and inter-group conflicts50. A conflict over access to a source of high-quality drinking water is of the first kind, while a conflict between the proponents and opponents of the construction of a nuclear power station is of the second. Sociologists have come up with multiple classifications [12, 80, 339], although there is no single commonly accepted typology. Most classifications distinguish conflicts on the basis of the number of parties to the conflict, whether they are direct or indirect participants, the intensity and character of the interaction, and the ground of the conflict (territory, resources, sphere of influence). The most important factor, for the purposes of resolving the conflict, is the correlation of the parties’ interests. Three kinds of conflicts can be identified: 1) a zero-sum conflict, where achievement of the goals of one party entail complete forfeit of the interests of the other party; 2) a negative-sum conflict where resolution produces neither winner nor loser; 3) a non-zero sum conflict, where the goals and interests of the parties are not absolutely incompatible, i.e., the realization of the interests of both parties will not give a sum equal to zero.

Environmental conflicts can be characterized by an assortment of the above-mentioned features, so they need to be described by a combination of different parameters. The best way of resolving the conflict can only be defined by a multi-aspect analysis, which also provides important information for instrumental regulation. Specific studies need to be carried out, looking at spatial-temporal aspects in the motivation of environmental management and forecasting potential conflict areas. We will now consider the most critical aspects of instrumental settlement of conflicts in the environmental sphere.

Regulation of teleological conflicts in environmental management

Setting and meeting goals is the key to the successful management of any activity. The forces that drive a market have a teleological character and are generated by individuals consciously pursuing their goals. In this perspective, goals are landmarks towards which the main activity is oriented.

Definition of goals and their prioritizing in a single hierarchy play a crucial role in environmental management51. This is inevitable, since environmental work has a pronounced value orientation by virtue of its concern to ensure a healthy environment for both present and future generations, and is therefore committed to achieving certain future scenarios that are relevant for different socio-cultural groups. These are the grounds on which opposite perceptions of the goals of social development may sometimes be most clearly manifested.

It is through teleological conflict that the socio-cultural foundations of development, the phenomena of established resource use in each specific place have impact on environmental management, preventing its uniformity. This is because individuals and social groups (through their leaders) manage natural resources according to their specific moral value systems and based on culture-mediated objective knowledge obtained from scientific research. So a resource manager52, when selecting his goals, only sees a limited set of options and cannot address the entire range of possibilities. His view as to the most reasonable option for the use of natural resources and methods of environment protection is based on information and constraining factors that are largely determined by social and cultural restrictions and rules. Not only is the individual unaware of some possible options, but he may be unable to open-mindedly assess many of those, which he is aware of. So socially and culturally determined thinking stereotypes and personal perceptions of the value hierarchy play a critical role in the sphere of rational resource use and environmental protection. The ideas of the future that are dominant in different socio-cultural communities also exert a significant impact on decision-making. Consequently, the system of environmental management goals is not only hierarchical but is also multi-polar, unstable and often contradictory.

The goals of environmental management are either explicitly declared or remain implicit and are manifested through behavior standards. Mismatch between goals leads to teleological conflicts and additional transaction costs are needed in order to mitigate them, and this may sometimes completely prevent further pursuit of environmental efforts. This is particularly likely to happen during periods of rapid social modernization, which are accompanied by the deformation of institutional territorial matrixes, so that previously existing environmental institutions cease to work, leading to the rise of destructive behavior, where a majority of people prefer to violate rather than comply with environmental rules.

Goal-setting implies the choice by an individual of the most important goal, so that other goals are either ignored or regarded as being of lesser importance. For instance, Toyohiro Kono, when defining the various goals of a corporation, emphasized growth of sales volume and market share, while qualifying environmental goals as secondary [104, р. 86]. There is another way of resolving conflict between goals, whereby one goal is selected as predominant and others are viewed as mandatory limitations of that goal. Most business organizations regard environmental goals as merely limiting and regulating their activities. As a rule, only social and non-commercial environmental organizations treat economic goals as secondary to principal environmental goals.

It is particularly important to take account of the teleological context in countries and regions where informal institutions have a higher status and greater impact on everyday life than in places where formal norms and rules predominate. Russia belongs to the former group [174] and collective actions here are impossible without understanding of the teleological context, i.e., what people believe to be the “truth”, and consent has to be achieved on that basis. In Russia it is crucial that individuals coordinate their actions in accordance with a single socio-cultural dominant that unites the socio-cultural diversity of the country’s regions into a single system. Otherwise society can fall prey to processes of disintegration and degradation of the entire social sphere and behavioral opportunism by individuals (see Chapter 2).

Teleological conflicts are inevitably exacerbated in periods of rapid modernization, when a society has to undergo socio-cultural transformation. This is explained by the fact that importation of formal and informal institutions, on the one hand, and adaptation of previously established informal practices, on the other, occur at different speeds. A dangerous gap may then appear between the goal-setting functions in culture (led by entities that are most integrated with the international ideological system) and the practical implementation of those goals. The danger is that the recipient culture may be incapable of setting general goals and therefore unable to attract and consolidate the most creative social groups. In the environmental sphere this can entail rejection, especially at local level, of environmental initiatives that come “from above” – rejection by local communities of ecological priorities advocated by higher levels of territorial organization. So it is important to quickly identify potential areas of teleological conflict that may emerge in the process of importing environmental institutions, especially when the institutions come from an alien socio-cultural context.

The importance of research into teleological conflicts in environmental management (particularly in periods of modernization) is self-evident, but there have been few works on the subject. This is mainly because the study of management problems is centered on the model of homo economicus, which is by its nature inapplicable in teleological research. By contrast, the behavior model of homo responsabilis, which assumes value orientation and partial rationality, is methodologically well-suited to teleological research. Homo responsabilis can, within certain limits, integrate the individual goals of economic activity with moral values inherent to society for the achievement of long-term success. In other words, the goals of environmental management are framed by individuals with a certain sense of responsibility towards the communities they are part of and complying (to a certain extent) with moral restrictions. In choosing the methodological foundations for study of teleological conflicts in environmental management, it is worth focusing on the ideas of hermeneutic culturologists, such as Hans-Georg Gadamer [55], Jürgen Habermas [290, 291] and others. New methods and techniques, primarily hermeneutical and homiletical, should be used. The tool kit must include interactive cognition of the world and self-cognition, experimental application of standards, and the use of social and organizational design techniques (simulation, role-playing games, business games, etc.).

The outputs can be formalized to a large extent, which enables them to be processed by various methods (including geographical). For example, as demonstrated by the studies in Yaroslavl Region, teleological conflicts can be prevented by compiling suitable maps on the basis of formalized (interactive) methods and following a unified principle of environmental management priorities as conceived by leading resource managers in local districts (Fig. 4.1).

The study of teleological conflicts in the environmental sphere carried out by our team helped to determine and codify the set of most efficient tools for their resolution, including (among others): formalization and institutionalization of the socio-cultural core of territorial development; instrumental prevention of environmental teleological conflicts in a territory; and mutual alignment of the goals of different levels of territorial organization.

Main priorities for rational resource use in Yaroslavl Region (as perceived by senior experts in districts of the Region)
Fig. 4.1. Main priorities for rational resource use in Yaroslavl Region (as perceived by senior experts in districts of the Region)
Formalization of the socio-cultural core (dominant) of territorial development and its institutional forms

If people are to enjoy living and planning their future life in a specific place, it must have an individuality, a special image, which they perceive positively. V.L. Glazichev emphasizes, “A place is people! It is a situation of interaction between people in a particular objective spatial environment” [58, p. 156]. People become bonded to places to the extent that those places acquire their own name and a network of socio-cultural, economic and political links. By discovering the reality and sustainability of a place, and by overcoming the impersonality of world and nature, people acquire a rational, purposeful and ethical motivation for environmental activities.

The socio-cultural features of territories, defining environmental constraints and rules, create a socio-culturally determined vector, by which people can identify themselves with a specific place and can evaluate economic, managerial and other actions. We might call this vector the socio-cultural core (the dominant) of territorial development. Any ideas that do not match it may not be supported by the majority of the population. In this case the ethnos and its ethics will resist changes, perceiving them as a challenge to and disregard for a certain ethical position. The role of the socio-cultural core in territorial development is especially great at times of transformation of institutional territorial matrixes, when formal norms and rules lose their efficiency, disorganization becomes widespread and the gap between government and people widens, so that consolidation of the efforts of individuals acquires particular urgency.

The essence of the socio-cultural core (the dominant) of territorial development can be better grasped using the notion of “genius loci” (the spirit of place), a fundamental cultural category, which was already used by Plato, who endowed it with same features as the human spirit. The spirit of place is what makes a particular location habitable for people. Undergoing various interpretations in the particular place, the spirit is manifested and consolidated in culture. Local culture presents, on the one hand, types of spiritual interpretation, and, on the other hand, social norms (what Herodotus called “mores”). Emphasizing the socio-cultural basis of the category of “place” A. Levintov [118] noted that the spirit of place, whether a city or a locality (Greek “topos" or Latin "civitas") is not merely a generative factor, but something that generates a region or a city, i.e., the factor that that produces an image, a certain spiritual projection of the place, its spiritualization.

In this context natural and cultural heritage sites acquire a unifying, activating quality as elements of the cultural landscape. They not only help to preserve the historically established images of places but can both enhance and detract from the appeal of a territory both for people and for external innovation. The very task of preserving such places can bring people together (even people belonging to different social groups) in the context of rational purposeful activity for the sustainable development of the territory.

Positive marketing of territories is an excellent way of enhancing the significance of natural and cultural heritage sites53. In this case each place (with its specific, inherent geographical features) is favorably presented to consumers and other market participants (both outside and inside the territory) as a market subject. The ongoing innovative and investment activity of the “territorial consumers” is what provides sustainable growth. For example, the map of environmental and cultural heritage of Yaroslavl Region, compiled by experts of the D.S. Likhachev Institute of Environmental and Cultural Heritage, is the first of its kind to formalize and systematize the region’s natural and cultural heritage [87] and identifies the dominant cultural development trends of various locations, thus supporting the positive image of the whole region not only for its inhabitants but, first and foremost, for external investors.

Certainly, the traditions and images of the past can unite people without being the socio-cultural development core. They can prolong the life of social relations that have lost their relevance, preventing innovations that are required for sustainable growth. Traditions and images of the past can also be used by various political forces as a basis for social conservatism. So a development vector only deserves to be called a socio-cultural core (dominant) of territorial development if it helps people, not only to identify themselves with a specific place and to assess economic, managerial and other activities, but also to orient local communities towards the future, towards sustainable growth, not just as a reminder of the past. Reliance on such a socio-cultural development core is what enables the invention of efficient environmental management mechanisms that are understood and accepted by people, and the implementation of which does not evoke opposition.

ENVIRONMENTAL SYMBOLS. The significance of the socio-cultural core of territorial development for purposes of environmental management is substantially increased when it is perceived by people as a symbol (or a combination of symbols), with which they associate their life. The symbol is regarded as a sign that is socially fixed and conveyed from one generation to another, evoking the same response, and thus becomes an efficient mechanism for coordinating social interaction. By comprehending the symbols that have denoted and pervaded a system of activity, we can study the spiritual cultivation of the space and decipher the cultural code underlying the system. The interpretation of the symbols helps to define the role program of culture-bearers in the territory under consideration.

Symbols are deemed to be vital elements in the socio-cultural methodology of environmental management. Special attention is paid to determining the interrelation of the symbols and the environmental features of a territory. Symbols have become an integral link in many environmental projects, especially those which need the consolidated support of local people for their success. So, for example, the program for saving the Rhine was given the symbolic name “Salmon 2000”.

This slogan united people around the aspiration, common to nearly all people, to reintroduce salmon to the Rhine. Implementation of this task involved the removal of dams, imposition of environmental standards that many people found challenging, and other high-cost measures.

In communities with strong religious traditions, environmental symbols acquire sacral meaning. For example, in the mid-1990s the Philippines tried to encourage local people to plant trees by disseminating environmental information. The effect was disappointing. An environmental success was only achieved when the action was given a sacral, ritual meaning: the seedlings were sanctified in Buddhist temples as religious symbols before being distributed to people. As a result more than 40 000 trees were planted in 1996 alone [123].

Many existing spiritual centers are organically integrated in the environment and carry the symbolic meaning of a unity of the spirit and nature, creating unique socio-cultural development cores. For instance, there is a religious tradition associating the creation of the Svyato-Vvedensky Tolga Convent near Yaroslavl with the miraculous appearance of the icon of the Mother of God in a pine tree to Trifon, the Bishop of Rostov. This event not only determined the location of the Convent but created a durable connection between the Convent and the place by assigning a symbolic meaning to the Tolga River, integrating the Convent with the cedar grove as a single socio-cultural development dominant. In the early 20th century the Convent had a cedar grove with ponds, which dated back, according to tradition, to the late 16th century. There was an alley of two rows of 166 cedar trees and the Tolga icon of the Mother of God was placed in the branches of one of the trees. Believers are still convinced that touching the tree has a healing effect. After the destruction of the Convent in the mid-20th century only 20 cedars were left. Despite efforts by the nuns, they are gradually dying and new trees have been planted. The loss of the cedar grove (if it occurs) would change the symbolic meaning of the convent, taking away the spiritual and environmental pillar, which supports it.

The idea of saving the cedar grove as a spiritual and environmental symbol was taken as the basis of the Tolga Eco-Region project, which, among other important tasks, aimed to give special environmental status to the territory around the Tolga Convent. The idea of saving the sacred grove (as a symbol of the unity of spirit and nature) has become a unifying goal for different social groups, encouraging them to step up conservation activity and sponsorship, initiating positive institutional changes. The example shows that symbols can be regarded as formal environmental institutions and can be used effectively for environmental policy and management purposes.

MYTHOLOGIZED IMAGES OF PLACES play a significant, though not always formalized role in environmental management. Such images can serve as a means of social organization (appropriate myths include: order, freedom, justice, historical heritage, a bright future, a true path, historical recognition, national power). The mythological motivation is concurrent with rational forms of power and competes with them or even penetrates into them. “The images through which a myth lives are never perceived as images. They are not considered to be symbols but an actual reality. There is no urge to criticize or reject them; they must be accepted without the shadow of a doubt.” [337; 338, p. 72].

Most studies of the myth are devoted to its archaic forms; the myth has been studied primarily by anthropologists, ethnologists, social psychologists, sociolinguists and social philosophers. There are hardly any studies devoted to mythological images of territories associated with environmental management and this is a serious omission, because the myth, by virtue of its orientation towards the future, plays a more substantial role in the environmental sphere than in many others. The applicability of mythological images in territorial management (including conservational aspects) is conditioned by the fact that development is connected with the interest of people in a specific place, in its geographical, social and cultural features; a place is endowed with a special spiritual essence, a poetic feeling [393]. Examples range from the image of Santa Claus as used to support the development of northern regions of Finland, to the image of Nessie in the development of tourism in Scotland, etc.

The way in which mythological images of territories influence environmental management requires serious study. But we can already assert today that the mythologized images of places can have substantial impact on the innovation appeal of territories, making them more attractive for life and for business, and they can also increase the inflow of investments. Such images are already widely used in the branding of territories, promoting goods and services, and environmental management issues are closely intertwined with the marketing of territories. This is because marketing technologies are increasingly included in investment policies as a specific competitive mechanism. Competition between regions and cities for investment leads to the commercialization not only of information about their socio-economic and political condition, but also of their cultural image as a specific place. The combination of geographical features of a place determines its competitive advantages. For instance, the mineral water produced in the area adjacent to the Tolga Convent is called “Tolga Cedar Grove”, which is associated in the mind of the local population with purity, spirituality and impossibility of counterfeit. Such a brand ensures competitive advantages for the product and the producer has become the sponsor of the Convent.

Attention to symbols and mythologized images of territories as environmental institutions is particularly important in contemporary Russia. Through the greater part of the 20th century everything local and individual was suppressed, mass consciousness experienced “placelessness”, and many informal and formal environmental institutions connected with specific places were destroyed. Globalization is aggravating the situation. This makes it vital today to support local communities and to develop mechanisms for the horizontal coordination of their activities in order to achieve sustainable development of places. Identifying the socio-cultural cores (dominants) of territorial development, institutionalizing them in the form of symbols and mythological images, and working out marketing strategies to support sustainable development should become prime vectors of institutional environmental change.

Instrumental coordination of environmental goals

Instrumental coordination of environmental goals (formalized within a territory and across different levels of territorial organization) arises from the need to consolidate the efforts of all stakeholders in the solution of environmental problems. It is natural that the issues of nature conservation and rational resource use, as well as people’s own priorities, differ greatly in the different geographical conditions of specific territories and across different levels of territorial organization. But the problems cannot be solved without broad agreement and consolidation of the efforts of all stakeholders because the different environmental systems that arise where coordination is weak lead to conflicts of goals.

Territorial conflicts between different goals also arise when resource managers (the staff of the territorial and resource management bodies, community leaders, CEOs, farmers, etc.) define the goals of environmental activities in different ways. In working out collective decisions on territorial development resource managers communicate with each other and conflicts between goals inevitably arise. These must be prevented and regulated in order to enable joint decisions and their implementation.

Studies of instrumental prevention of territorial teleological conflicts54 in the environmental management sphere have shown that tools for coordinating environmental goals include: formalization of the priorities of territorial environmental policy; maintaining a just balance between the powers and authorities of main resource managers in specific territories; and mutual coordination of the environmental goals of different hierarchical levels in the territorial organization of environmental management.

THE FORMALIZATION OF THE PRIORITIES OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY is a complex process of finding compromise between the goals of actual resource managers in the course of broad discussions with the use of interactive technologies. Interactive methods are particularly useful: where there are significant divergences of views; when time is limited and solutions are proving hard to find; and when there is too much or too little information. Special attention should be paid to the general atmosphere of meetings and commitment of the participants to positive cooperation. The Delphi method, in which participants simulate the allocation of limited budget funds by completing questionnaires, appears to be highly efficient. It has allowed territorial leaders to find compromise decisions, stimulated active participation in discussions and enabled the formulation of collective opinions on the basis of estimates [150].

The Delphi method was used in all districts of Yaroslavl Region in 1996 to formulate priorities in rational environment management and protection. The work involved 367 experts (senior officers of district governments, resource-using organizations, opinion leaders, company managers, farmers, etc.) who played a decisive role in environmental management. Summary of the findings of the practical studies identified, in a generalized form, the priorities of environment management for the whole Region as seen by experts at district level.

Comparison of the priorities defined by district experts using this method with the priorities of official environmental programs developed and approved in 1990 (Fig. 4.2) showed that a noticeable change of priorities occurred in the period from 1990 to 1996: some goals were realized, while others lost their urgency. For example, the situation with protection of forests deteriorated and the problems of drinking water supply also became more acute, particularly in urban settlements, but the level of atmospheric pollution from stationary sources decreased. Over the period in question the general focus shifted from purely environmental to socio- environmental goals, due to worsening of the economic situation in Russian regions during the early stage of market reforms.

Frequency of discussion of various goals (problems) of environmental management and protection in program documents (1990) and at meetings of experts in districts of Yaroslavl Region (1996)
Fig. 4.2. Frequency of discussion of various goals (problems) of environmental management and protection in program documents (1990) and at meetings of experts in districts of Yaroslavl Region (1996)

Legend: 1 – state, rational use and protection of forests; 2 – state of rivers and reservoirs; 3 – land use, soil fertility; 4 – drinking water supply; 5 – waste; 6 – spirituality, ethics and environmental literacy; 7 –atmospheric air pollution; 8 – flora and fauna, poaching; 9 – town and settlement improvement, landscaping and sanitation; 10 – subsoil use, quarrying; 11 – environmental legislation; 12 – radioactive pollution; 13 – trans-border pollution; 14 – territorial environmental management; 15 – health care; 16 – food quality; 17 – shortage of information on natural resources and the state of the environment; 18 –state of reservoirs (partial flooding); 19 – inefficient use of the natural resource complex; 20 – lack of rights at local level; 21 – low level of technology; 22 – preservation of natural landscapes; 23 – non-compliance with urban development master plans; 24 – population concentration; 25 – scientific support; 26 – special protected areas

In general, the studies show that work to determine and formalize priorities improves the efficiency of environmental management by involving resource managers in the search for compromise, It mitigates conflicts between resource managers (even at the stage of working meetings) and discovers ways of avoiding conflict situations when joint actions are implemented. The application of spatio-temporal analysis in processing the results helps to identify territories where environmental teleological conflicts may occur.

An equally important tool for the coordination of environmental goals is maintaining the right balance of powers and authorities between main resource managers in specific territories. Institutional environmental changes cannot be carried out successfully unless most territorial elites consider them legitimate and in line with their own ideas of expediency. So special attention must be paid to forecasting potential conflicts related to the distribution of authorities between resource managers. We suggested a “power–commitment” analytical method, which identifies the real power and authority of main resource managers and compares it with the degree of their commitment to resolving these issues (Fig. 4.3). Fig. 4.3 clearly shows that (despite national legislation) the real powers of resource managers in solving the same issues in different districts of a single Russian region differ considerably.

Power and commitment of district administrations and the Regional Committee for Water Services in solving problems of drinking water supply (according to leading district experts in 1996)
Fig. 4.3. Power and commitment of district administrations and the Regional Committee for Water Services in solving problems of drinking water supply (according to leading district experts in 1996)

The proposed method shows territorial specifics of the power structure, and potential changes in relationships at government level, which would be perceived by the local elite as positive, as well as showing forces that would potentially support or hinder the planned institutional changes, and revealing (and helping to prevent) conflicts that might accompany changes in environmental policies. The method is particularly efficient at the local level, where personal relationships predominate over contractual ones.

So territorial teleological conflicts in the environmental sphere caused by institutional changes can be prevented and regulated (unless the conflicts are in an intensive stage of open struggle). This can be done by the use of special methods of instrumental regulation, which minimize transaction costs arising in the process of institutional environmental changes.

MUTUAL COORDINATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL GOALS SET BY DIFFERENT HIERARCHICAL LEVELS OF THE TERRITORIAL ORGANIZATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, is another means of settlement of teleological conflicts and is determined by the wide scope of environmental work, and the diversity of its goals and tasks. The main tasks addressed by environmental management may be global, continental, national, regional, local, and relating to specific resource users. Such goals are often in contradiction with each other. Ways of reconciling them can be found by the “integrative” method, which emphasizes the prevention of conflicts. This method assumes that environmental priorities are determined in parallel, “top-down” and “bottom-up” (Insert 3). This helps to identify the areas of agreement as well as conflict areas where compromise must be sought. Such compromise involves political establishment of a main goal, while all other goals are considered to be factors that support or resist its achievement. On this approach, higher-level management goals (international, national and regional) are the boundaries of the institutional space where compromises with lower-level goals is possible.

Insert 3

“Top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches

The “top-down” approach is founded on the goals of global sustainability of the biosphere, preservation of biodiversity and the respective goals of eco-politics at federal and regional levels. Measures for achieving those goals are developed in the framework of integrated action models at regional level. This approach is generally justified from the standpoint of global sustainability, but may disregard the level of the individuals and his/her perception of local development. As a result, the measures that are taken may reduce policy efficiency and even discredit environmental activity as such.

It has been shown in many cases that when environmental policy is imposed from above by setting restrictions without regard for the well-being of ordinary people, an opposite effect may be obtained, i.e., the load on the natural resources increases. So, for example, in the 1990s a part of the Kabansk District of Buryatia was declared a special protected area, which entailed the prohibition of activity on Lake Baikal by fishing cooperatives and fur farming by households. At the same time employment problems were not addressed (new jobs were not created). This led to the growth of illegal harvesting of natural resources, especially biodiversity resources, by households. This renders social conflicts more acute, reinforcing the negative attitude of ordinary people towards government.

The findings of our regional studies show that many of the declared goals of global, federal and even regional eco-politics may be perceived by local people, who face the challenges of day-to-day survival, as fancies and unrealistic inventions. There is no shortage of ways of blocking the decisions of high-level authorities if local elites or ordinary people are opposed to them. This usually does not involve open disobedience (Russia has a long tradition of severe punishment for open disobedience or protest), but uses various forms of sabotage and informal contracts in order to blunt the impact of unpopular decisions. Households can express their opposition by concealment of income, etc. So programs that use a “top down” model and fail to consider the interests of local development encounter mass non-compliance, become bogged down in procedural routine, and have to request additional funding to compensate for unexpected external costs. They fail mainly because their goals, though just and fair from the point of view of global sustainability are not adapted to local conditions, and are perceived by local communities as alien and even hostile in so far as they impose restrictions (even slight restrictions) on people’s access to traditional development resources.

In the “bottom up” approach, the conceptions of local territories concerning environmental goals are initially formulated and summarized as the opinions of resource managers who can influence environmental activities and who express the views of formal and informal communities. This approach uses collective decision-making and the goals of environmental policy are determined by what concerns local people, what issues of rational resource use and environment protection are critical in people’s value preferences, and what ways of meeting these priorities are the most effective. This approach allows the decision makers to take the socio-cultural features of specific territories into consideration and, as a rule, it is supported by local experts because it is oriented to protection of local interests, takes account of local peculiarities to the fullest extent and provides for horizontal coordination at minimum costs. However, the “bottom up” approach has certain shortcomings connected with its inherent inability to forecast territorial development as a system. This reflects its focus on internal processes and failure to correlate them with global trends and the development of other territories. The systemic environmental constraints and regulations of higher levels (global, continental, regional, etc.) are not properly factored in. The drawbacks of a “bottom up” approach are particularly evident at a time of intensive reform, when the institutional space changes faster than the perceptions of local experts.

In order to coordinate environmental goals at an early stage and avoid conflict, we recommend using the correlation matrix which was developed by our team. The matrix was successfully tested in development and implementation of the Project for Efficient Natural Resource Management in Yaroslavl Region [198] (Table 4.1), where it gave a comprehensive picture of environmental priorities at different management levels. The left column lists the general goals that were contained in the main program documents and identified at workshops in districts of the Region, and the first line gives the names of the main program documents. So the elements of the matrix help to focus on the identification and appraisal of the major conflicts between goals, enabling their liquidation or mitigation. Analysis of the matrixes for Yaroslavl Region shows some disagreements between environmental priorities at the same territorial management level, caused mainly by the professional composition and views of the designers as well as by changes in the socio-economic and political situation. Thus, e.g., at the inter-district level, the “Volga Renaissance” program is more oriented to national public interests and takes the territorial peculiarities into consideration to a greater extent than the Regional Action Plan for Environment Protection of the Upper Volga. The special-purpose comprehensive program for Yaroslavl Region pays more attention to issues of territorial environmental management than the preliminary regional plan.

There are much greater contradictions between the goals of different management levels: regional vs. local, regional vs. inter-district, inter-district vs. local. This determines the main potential conflict areas (as is clearly seen in Fig. 4.4). Even a general comparison of the “radars” shows clearly that the most acute conflicts in environmental priorities are between the inter-district and local management levels. The regional level is in intermediate position: the conflicts between goals are less obvious than at the inter-district and local levels. Those conflicts are mostly of an objective character, but it is the regional level which is particularly in need of a satisfactory compromise

Table 4.1. Comparison of priorities in different program documents in Yaroslavl Region (rating: 0 - zero, 1 – minimum, 2 - medium, 3 - maximum)

Priority environmental issue

Interregional level

Regional level

Local level

Volga Renaissance (1995)

Regional Action Plan; based on workshop materials (Kostroma, Sept. 25-27, 1996)

“Environmental Protection” section of preliminary plan for districts of Yaroslavl Region (1986)*

“Rational Use and Replacement of Natural Resources, and Protection of the Environment” (1990)

Environmental documents produced in administrative districts in 1991-1994

Workshops, meetings in districts (1995-1996)

State, rational use and protection of forests







Drinking water supply







Land use, soil fertility







River and water reservoirs







Spiritual dimension, ethics, environmental literacy














Atmospheric air pollution







Municipal improvement, landscaping and sanitation







Flora and fauna, poaching







Environmental legislation







Health care







Inefficient use of natural resources






Food quality






Urbanization, population concentration






Territorial environmental management






Radioactive pollution






Lack of powers at local level






Subsoil use (quarrying)






Low level of technology






Lack of information on natural resources and the environment







Scientific support






Hydrology of reservoirs

(partial flooding);







Preservation of natural landscapes







Non-compliance with the urban development master plans







Trans-border pollution







Special protected areas







Noise and thermal pollution







* 214 critical environmental issues were identified in Yaroslavl Region

** viewed as a way of increasing the productivity of farms

Degree of attention paid to different environmental issues (Yaroslavl Region)
Fig. 4.4. Degree of attention paid to different environmental issues (Yaroslavl Region)

Legend: 1 – state, rational use and protection of forests; 2 – drinking water supply; 3 – land use, soil fertility; 4 – state of rivers and reservoirs; 5 – spirituality, ethics and environmental literacy; 6 – waste; 7 –atmospheric air pollution; 8 – improvement of towns and settlements, landscaping and sanitation; 9 – flora and fauna, poaching; 10 – environmental legislation; 11 – healthcare; 12 – inefficient use of natural resources; 13 – food quality; 14 – urbanization, population concentration; 15 – territorial environmental management; 16 – radioactive pollution; 17 – lack of rights at local level; 18 – subsoil use, quarrying; 19 –low level of technology; 20 – shortage of information on natural resources and the state of the environment; 21 – scientific support; 22 – hydrology of reservoirs (partial flooding); 23 – preservation of natural landscapes; 24 – non-compliance with urban development master plans; 25 – trans-border pollution; 26 – special protected areas; 27 – noise and thermal pollution.

Source: Project for Efficient Environmental Management..., 1996

CONFLICTS BETWEEN GOALS AT THE INTERREGIONAL AND REGIONAL LEVELS.The most important issues at the interregional level are surface water, health care and trans-border pollution, while regional programs give priority to the improvement of comprehensive environmental management, preserving landscapes and health care (similar to the interregional level).

CONFLICTS BETWEEN GOALS AT REGIONAL AND LOCAL LEVELS.Local programs emphasize (more explicitly than regional programs) the importance of rapid solution of issues concerning forestry, drinking water, land use and soil fertility as well as the revival of spiritual values and culture (including improvement of environmental literacy). The issue of surface water is also quite urgent (similar to regional programs).

CONFLICTS OF GOALS AT INTERREGIONAL AND LOCAL LEVELS. Conflicts of this type are the most pronounced, since most of the priorities established by districts in Yaroslavl Region contradict goals at the interregional level. While programs at interregional level emphasize issues related to surface water, health care and trans-border pollution with some attention to environmental literacy, local programs are focused on the problems of forestry, drinking water supply, land use and soil fertility as well as spiritual and cultural revival (including improvement of environmental literacy). Surface water is also an issue at local level but is not given high-priority.

Linkage of and compromise between goals is largely dependent on the nature of the conflict and the peculiarities of specific territories. This process requires special efforts. Unless consensus can be reached among all stakeholders with respect to environmental goals and the best ways of achieving them, as identified through “bottom up” and “top down” approaches, such goals cannot be accepted as the principal reference point for the planning and implementation of institutional environmental changes.

Environmental budgeting provides an efficient tool for the resolution of teleological conflicts. Environmental plans, as they are used nowadays, often have the disadvantage of integrating various territorial environmental issues based on indicators for the particular territory, while ignoring or underestimating the external environmental load (i.e. the load that comes from outside the territory). If environmental budgets prepared at different levels of territorial organization are appropriately interconnected through the establishment of local indicators, then local and supra-regional goals can be much better coordinated. For example, the environmental budget may envisage the reduction of harmful emissions by 80%. This proposal is then specified in respective strategies and plans to prevent air pollution at different levels of territorial organization.

So the mechanism of environmental budgeting enables compromise between priorities at global and national levels (e.g., emission reductions) and local environmental goals (noise reduction, etc.) A decision can then be made to divide environmental priorities between territories or to adopt an integrated strategy. An environmental budget is necessary, therefore, in order to ensure that issues of nature conservation are reflected in territorial policies and that the demands of conservation are better balanced.

The findings of our studies enable important conclusions with respect to environmental management. Prevention and resolution of teleological conflicts in the environmental sphere is of great significance because the period of revolutionary institutional changes in Russia is inevitably accompanied by acute contradictions between resource users, leading to growth of transaction costs. The teleological method helps to determine ways of preventing environmental conflicts by a better understanding of how environmental management needs to be differentiated by reference to the socio-cultural specifics of territories. Combined use of “top down” and “bottom up” approaches in the analysis of environmental priorities highlights existing and potential conflict areas in relations between different management levels and enables measures to be taken to prevent and resolve them. An environmental budget is an efficient means of coordinating priorities in nature conservation work.

Managing ethnic conflict when importing environmental institutions

The importation of environmental institutions in the context of ever greater globalization may incite ethnic conflicts55, because any change in environmental institutions entails a distribution of powers among social groups as regards access to natural resources, environmental goods and eco-system services, and, in case of ethnic differences between the social groups, conflicts can acquire an ethnic dimension with potential escalation, including racial or ethnic discrimination.

The growth in risks of ethnic conflicts in the course of natural resource use and eco-system services is largely determined by globalization. We are witnessing unprecedented expansion of markets for natural resources, goods and eco-system services. Increasing demand and supply determine prices and the most sought-after natural and cultural goods become available to those with high purchasing power in a process that is facilitated by lower costs and greater speed of transportation. In this situation, the most valuable environmental goods can only be acquired by particular individuals or social groups. The current institutional changes have created a situation where entire territories become closed to shared use (private parks, forests, coasts, islands, exclusive suburbs, etc.), and such territories tend to spread until they infringe on the right of movement of the most unprivileged social groups, forcing them into the most polluted and least attractive territories. Risks of ethnic conflict are also exacerbated by the activities of transnational corporations, which relocate environmentally hazardous manufacturing enterprises to poor countries and regions where environmental initiatives are weaker and living standards are so low that people are ready to do almost any kind of work. This leads to environmental improvements in wealthy regions, while the conditions in poor and ecologically disadvantaged regions become worse, and many social and ethnic groups are deprived of the environmental goods that were previously available. As the income gap widens, the residents of wealthy countries, motivated by ideas of environmental security, are prepared to listen to calls to cleanse their countries of poor people, migrants, “aliens” and other “undesirables”.

Clearly, the issue of ethnic conflict in the sphere of resource management and eco-system services (the emergence and development of conflict, conflict management, etc.) is far from being purely conceptual. Nevertheless, it has not been sufficiently explored in Russian science, though a number of studies on better environmental management in traditional communities are being carried out by experts in different spheres, including ethnology. These studies are mainly concerned with ethnic ecology, particularly with regard to the indigenous peoples of the Russian North, and the relationships between man and nature [20; 39]. Traditional environmental management has been treated mainly in the framework of “agrarian history” and “agrarian traditions of the Russian peasantry”, which are long-standing spheres of interest in Russian ethnology [66; 110]. Much attention has been paid recently to the study of world views as reflected in ethnography, i.e. the vision of the world that is characteristic of culture bearers in a specific territory (“sacral geography”) [21; 306]. Historical geography has also dealt with issues of traditional resource use [77]. However, these studies are insufficient for the development of mechanisms of regulation and prevention of ethnic conflicts in the environmental sphere. Special tools for defusing such conflicts are required and various regulatory tools exist that can reduce the intensity of an ethnic conflict (although without completely eliminating its ethnic character).

The contemporary theory of conflict points out that ethnic conflicts are caused by collective anxiety about the future rather than by direct differences between ethnic groups or century-long enmities [218; 403]. As regards the environment, people are primarily concerned about the depletion of natural resources in their habitat (losses resulting from direct extraction or deterioration of resource quality due to pollution), limited access to environmental goods, disintegration of traditional forms of resource use, etc. Situations where ethnic groups perceive threatened environment degradation and loss of their share of natural-resource rent as hostile acts, intended to destroy the very basis of their subsistence, are particularly dangerous.

Conflicts can be aggravated by excessive industrial extraction of natural resources, but also by regulatory environmental measures, which lead to restrictions on the use of environmental goods and eco-system services by ethnic groups. For instance, when a territory is given status as a special protected area (with restrictions on natural-resource use), the social and ethnic groups, whose right of access to the resources have been restricted, often react angrily and a risk of ethnic conflict arises. Ethnic activists and political figures are often inclined to support and encourage fears of material deprivation, polarizing society for their own benefit. Political illusions, myths and emotions fan the conflict. The knot of mistrust and suspicion caused by ill-conceived political decisions in the sphere of resource use can lead to social explosions so serious that the environmental conflicts, which originally caused them, are forgotten.

World practice uses various approaches to the research of ethnic tension and ethnic conflicts (Table 4.2). Each of them views the causes of ethnic conflict differently, and therefore offers different tools for controlling and resolving it. Reconciliation of these approaches is desirable, but their mechanical additions and addition of the proposed means of resolution is not possible. It would be useful to make use of the theoretical and practical work of Soviet ethnologists [35; 102; 109; 218], but Soviet ethnology had the weakness (for obvious objective reasons) of turning a blind eye to ethnic conflicts in the “socialist countries” [48, p. 11]. The required synthesis might be based on the theory suggested by the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu [327], who accepted the approaches of different theoretical traditions derived from the works of Weber, Durkheim, Marx, de Saussure and Wittgenstein together with the tools of phenomenology, structuralism, etc. Bourdieu called his approach “constructivist structuralism”. Without going into detail, including Bourdieu’s notion of “habitus”56, it is clear that this strategy helps to resolve contradictions between the existing approaches. The notion of “habitus” is at once conservative and innovative: it places the practice of previous generations on a par with that of the present generation. It also produces a new practice, which takes account of the surrounding social and environmental conditions. This theory is helpful for analyzing ethnic conflicts in environmental management and for developing methods to control them.

Table 4.2. Ethnic conflicts and ethnic affiliation: research approaches


Situationism (instrumentalism)



Shils, Simpson, Yinger, Issacs, Berghe, Smith, Kaplan, Connor

Glazer and Moynihan, Steinberg, Brass, Rothchild, Olsak, Nagel

Anderson, Dominguez, Young, Brubaker, Kuran, Berger, Luckmann

Main features

Ethnic affiliation is a characteristic of persons and communities, which is long-established, inborn, and inherited in biological features and the experience of many previous generations.

Each person is always the bearer of specific national features.

Nobody and no group can change their ethnic affiliation. Ethnic distinctions and ethnic tensions are considered to be “natural”. The focus is on the way in which collective actions generate shared beliefs, norms and values that generate group solidarity.

Ethnic affiliation is a tool used by individuals, groups or elites for their material betterment. People consciously mobilize ethnic symbols in order to achieve their goals. Ethnic affiliation is relatively independent of the political processes, which take place in a territory, and is used to moderate the ambitions of others or to achieve one’s own political goals.

Ethnic affiliation is regarded, first of all, as a set of symbolic links that are used to win political advantages, closely resembling membership of interest groups or political unions.

The social character of ethnic affiliation is emphasized. Ethnic affiliation consists of a tight web of social interactions. In this context ethnic affiliation is not an individual attribute but a social phenomenon. Ethnic affiliation is not considered to be a source of conflicts, Such conflicts are caused by pathological social systems, which are not controlled by individuals. In such social systems an acute conflict can continue from generation to generation, making the ethnic affiliation socially determined, and this can lead to conflicts when the system becomes uncontrollable. Each person is automatically identified with a “warring party”, irrespective of their will. Hence, an ethnic conflict, in its extreme version, grows into a universal conflict.

Specifics of conflict management

Ethnic conflict is considered to be an inevitable outcome of ethnic affiliation. The possibility and importance of denying ethnic affiliation as a means of resolving conflicts is called in question. The experience of resolving other types of conflicts (social, economic or political) is irrelevant for the case of ethnic conflicts.

Where there is a high geographical concentration of people with similar social or economic motives and goals within ethnic groups or communities, ethnic affiliation can be used as a powerful political instrument. Ethnic affiliation is not much different from other political factors. An ethnic conflict does not always differ from other types of conflict based on collision of interests or ideological differences. In this context ethnic conflict is part of a more general and complex conflict. The experience of resolving ethnic conflicts can often be applied to other types of conflicts. Conflicts are to a large extent driven by political elites who pursue their own narrow interests.

Ethnic conflict can be related to other conflicts which are based on differences and contradictions between social groups (clannish, religious, regional, nationalistic, etc.). However, conflicts cannot be explained by class or any other material interests. Ethnic conflicts constitute an integral part of a wider range of social relations. Most approaches used in regulating ethnic conflicts are efficient in regulating social conflicts and vice versa.


The approach is extremely helpful for understanding the emotional basis of ethnicity as such and the durability of ethnic relations.

The focus on the situational determinants of ethnicity enables researchers to consider what drives ethnic contradictions.

The shift of accent to the role of people’s conscious activities in the emergence of ethnic communities helps to describe the process of constructing ethnic groups.


The chief disadvantage is the static character of the approach: inability to adapt to changes, to take social changes into consideration and neglect of political and economic impacts. The approach does not explain why ethnic conflicts escalate or subside in specific territories at specific times; why there are long periods in the development of multinational communities when ethnic affiliation is not considered by people as the main political characteristic and the relations among ethnic groups are relatively peaceful.

The chief disadvantage is the static character of the approach: inability to adapt to changes, to take social changes into consideration and neglect of political and economic impacts. The approach does not explain why ethnic conflicts escalate or subside in specific territories at specific times; why there are long periods in the development of multinational communities when ethnic affiliation is not considered by people as the main political characteristic and the relations among ethnic groups are relatively peaceful.

The chief disadvantage is the static character of the approach: inability to adapt to changes, to take social changes into consideration and neglect of political and economic impacts. The approach does not explain why ethnic conflicts escalate or subside in specific territories at specific times; why there are long periods in the development of multinational communities when ethnic affiliation is not considered by people as the main political characteristic and the relations among ethnic groups are relatively peaceful.

Due regard should be given in the course of environmental management to the fact that regulation of ethnic conflicts is a process that has no end or clear-cut solution: even when ethnic tension is successfully managed, there is always a danger of its resurgence, so the prevention of ethnic conflicts is a permanent task. Critically important confidence-building measures, which respect the rights and positions of ethnic groups, include: joint exercise of power; special planning of relations as a part of strategies and programs of sustainable territorial development in order to reinforce the interdependence of ethnic groups; and allocating territorial autonomy with autonomous regulation of natural resource use. These approaches can mitigate the strategic problems of joint development, the solution of environmental problems becomes more efficient, and the threat of ethnic tension in the course of development and implementation of federal and regional environmental is reduced.

Principle features of ethnic conflicts related to the use of environmental goods and eco-system services

Ethnic affiliation is not the immediate cause of an ethnic conflict. As a rule, ethnic groups protect their interests peacefully through existing political channels. But in conditions of social uncertainty and real concerns for the future, related to the fear of losing access to natural resources, environmental goods and eco-system services, ethnic affiliation becomes one of the main fault lines in society, underscored by historical memory and myths. The concerns are aggravated when the government loses its ability to serve as a conflict resolver between ethnic groups and cannot provide guarantees of safety to ethnic minorities. The extent of conflict escalation in such cases depends on peculiarities of the strategic long-term interaction between the ethnic groups and inside the ethnic groups themselves.

STRATEGIC INTERACTION BETWEEN ETHNIC GROUPS. Relations between ethnic groups depend, among other things, on the degree of their competition for access to scarce natural resources, rights to use environmental goods and eco-system services (advantageous contracts), government funding and foreign investments in environmental activities, etc., i.e., everything that benefits one individual or group at the expense of the others. For instance, the struggle for access to oil or fish resources in the Caspian Sea is one of the reasons for escalation of ethnic conflicts in that region.

Given the scarcity of some natural resources and limited opportunities for obtaining eco-system services, the individuals and ethnic groups exercising political power often strive to and are able to secure privileged access to the services in order to improve their well-being. Since the rules for distributing natural resources are established by government, the struggle for control of government becomes the goal of competing groups. Scarcity of resources and the struggle for power generate competing interests. There are two options for resolving such situations: firstly, finding a unified common policy which can increase the aggregate wealth, so that each ethnic group will receive a part of the increased natural rent; secondly, finding benefits for one of the ethnic groups, e.g., by establishing some kind of “rent” to be paid to this group. Such rent will ultimately reduce the aggregate wealth, but can increase the wealth of one group for a short period of time.

Following the logic of collective actions, ethnic majority groups tend to use the strategy of increasing aggregate wealth while minority groups prefer the second strategy, of increasing the wealth of their particular ethnic groups. So the ethnic majority and minority have contradictory political interests. Three main issues of strategic interaction between ethnic groups can be identified, which tend to escalate conflicts: information failures, problems of probable blocking, and the urge to use force (security dilemma). We will consider each of these in more detail.

Information failures. In the process of social interaction, each ethnic group makes efforts to obtain information about the motives, priorities and capabilities of the opposite party. In certain circumstances it may be willing to transmit its own information. In many cases an ethnic conflict can arise when such information is falsified or hidden (completely or partially). In such cases the relevant ethnic groups are not able to receive and use the information, which they need in order to make or fulfill commitments.

Efficient government in a multinational society can help to resolve conflict in relations between ethnic groups. If government power weakens, the probability of information failure increases, which can lead to escalation of conflicts. The probability of information failures should always be borne in mind in environmental management: when addressing the issues of shared use of natural resources, regional and local authorities must pay special attention to the confidentiality of information about the life of ethnic communities.

Problems of probable blocking. Even if mutually beneficial agreements can be obtained, conflicts may arise due to distrust between ethnic groups and fear that the other party will break the agreements and to obtain additional benefits and win the conflict. The suspicious group may choose the high costs of waging war today in order to avoid being a victim of aggression tomorrow. It is vital, therefore, to maintain stable ethnic relations and honor “contracts” that have arisen from long experience of living together, taking account of experience gained in resolving previous conflicts. Such “contracts” stipulate the rights, obligations and political privileges of each group and regulate access to natural resources, environmental goods and eco-system services. They can exist as informal arrangements between elites or can be formalized by legislation.

Ethnic “contracts” must provide each party with the assurance of safety and life without distrust of other ethnic groups, and also stipulate guarantee mechanisms. Ethnic “contracts” can contain tension between groups for as long as the balance of power between ethnic groups is “sustainable” and is expected to be so in the future. However, history shows that a change of climatic conditions, scarcity of natural resources or environmental disasters in individual territories can lead to severe ethnic conflicts and wars. If access to development resources enables some ethnic groups to flourish while other are left in poverty, the ethnic balance will be upset and tensions will grow.

Probable blocking in ethnic relations is an ever-present threat because there is always a shortage of information for establishing full trust between ethnic groups and power trade-offs are in permanent flux. Therefore, one should pay special attention, when planning institutional environmental changes, to careful distribution of real power in the territory, and coordination and protection of the interests of ethnic minorities. In high-intensity ethnic conflicts, continuous external efforts are necessary in order to prevent them from growing worse; decisions must be made with the participation of a “third party”, i.e., government bodies and political leaders who are equally trusted by the conflicting parties.

Security dilemmas. The concept of a “security dilemma” is most commonly met with in international relations, but is also applicable to ethnic conflicts. In a broad sense, such a dilemma occurs in situations of anarchy when, based on their own perception of their need for self-defense, nation states need to maintain or reinforce their defense capabilities. This is inevitably viewed by other states as a threat and they respond by maintaining and expanding their own self-defense capabilities. The dilemma, therefore, arises when the conflicting parties are unable to perceive the logic of each others’ efforts at self-defense. In inter-ethnic relations, as in international relations, initially peaceful groups can become aggressive, even if they do not aspire to anything more than their own security. So security dilemmas are based on information failures and problems of probable blocking (see above). It should be noted that third parties have little chance of mitigating a security dilemma, but the sooner they interfere, the greater the chance that the ethnic groups will be forced to stop preparing for self-defense.

STRATEGIC COOPERATION WITHIN ETHNIC GROUPS, like any interaction between them, can polarize society and enhance the risk of ethnic conflicts. The roles played by ethnic leaders and political figures are most crucial. People usually identify themselves with certain groups that match their interests. In certain situations they may find it profitable to identify themselves with a specific ethnic group, if this facilitates their access to control and resources. As a result, the ethnic group provides the specific person with a relatively safe and comfortable environment. The ethnic group, in turn, becomes more powerful thanks to coordination of its members. So such an alliance can be important for the allying parties from an instrumental point of view. Ethnic affiliation is then viewed as a means of expanding the group’s opportunities in competition with other groups and among persons composing the group in order to obtain natural resources and access to environmental goods and eco-system services and to win advantage in the allocation of public funds for environmental purposes.

The study of ethnic conflicts related to the use of natural resources and eco-system services has shown that people fear losing access to the latter as a result of modernization and the implementation of programs of economic and social restructuring. They foresee how difficult and costly it might be to obtain new knowledge and anticipate risks of being left unemployed as a result of the innovations. So ethnic groups can become (implicitly or explicitly) hostile to the persons and entities who they believe to be the originators of the changes. We can say, therefore, that ethnic conflicts in the environmental management sphere are mostly instrumental or socially determined. The instruments which can calm such a conflict depend greatly on whether ethnic affiliation is regarded by political leaders and ethnic activists as inborn or determined by archetypes, rather than being socially motivated. So the main question is: do the ethnic groups pose a threat to one another simply because they are different or are there any rational, pragmatic causes of the conflict? Objective differences (social and economic) are amenable to peaceful settlement, while primordial ones are not. It is certain in any case that restriction of access to natural resources, environmental goods and eco-system services, loss of traditional forms of resource use and threat of man-made catastrophes are major drivers of ethnic tension, which may be exploited by politicians and ethnic activists for their own benefit and may consequently contribute to the escalation of ethnic conflicts.

Principal methods of resolving ethnic conflicts, applicable in environmental management

Management of ethical conflicts is a many-sided and continuous process. Positive results are hard to obtain and may be short-lived. The current theory of ethnic conflict believes that the analysis of political and social characteristics is a part of the decision-making process, emphasizing the study of earlier public and ethnic relationships, political memory, information availability, the experience of interpenetrating influences (transfusion), political culture, and other factors. The theory integrates the methods of different sciences. Such an interdisciplinary approach to the management and prevention of ethnic conflicts is also necessary in environmental activities. It mitigates the role of a supposed “ancient hatred” in the search for underlying causes of ethnic conflicts, while focusing on strategic cooperation between and within ethnic groups.

Two basic approaches can be distinguished in the management of ethnic conflicts:

  • a consolidated approach, oriented to the consolidation of ethnic activists and a high degree of group autonomy. It assumes a special privileged attitude and ensures protection of the ethnic group’s interests (e.g., a veto right of the minority);
  • an integrative approach, characterized by the tendency to reduce emphasis by political leaders of analytical ethnic issues and expand the impact of the minority on decision-making by the majority. This approach promotes inter-ethnic cooperation.

Successful regulation and prevention of ethnic conflicts arising in the sphere of natural resource use and eco-system services are only possible if government can guarantee the safety of minority groups and their access to the resources that there are essential for sustaining life. Therefore, when planning and implementing institutional changes, an inter-ethnic environment must be created, which will prevent the emergence and development of conflicts. World experience shows that this can be achieved by democratic or totalitarian methods. However, ethnic conflicts are more frequent and ruinous in societies dominated by totalitarian ideas, although, admittedly, these countries may also be successful in maintaining inter-ethnic peace. It is harder to apply the methods of democratic government in societies riven by inter-ethnic tension, but such methods produce better results in the long run.

One of the principle methods of managing ethnic conflicts is joint exercise of power. When this approach is accepted by all conflicting parties, it can operate as a direct response to the dynamics and character of an acute ethnic conflict. In this case the goals of ensuring general environmental well-being are taken as unifying ideas. Pragmatic focus on cooperation with other ethnic groups also becomes possible when people realize that refusal to cooperate will make the conflict escalate. Joint exercise of power can evolve in different directions, from processes of détente (contracts or preventive agreements between the parties) to attempts to limit the ability of the other party to compete for power and access to a share of environment rent.

The joint exercise of power requires systemic application of methods for managing ethnic conflict and cannot rely on a single model or a formula to be applied in all cases. There is no precise and self-sufficient criterion for assessing the efficiency of this approach in real life, but government should exert a degree of control over regional and local bodies, which may be inclined to undemocratic methods of conflict resolution. Foreign and domestic experience shows that the joint exercise of power can be successful if the following conditions are met: the decision on approaches to be used is not made under excessive pressure from outside or with a view to a short-lived balance of interests; the dominant role in the ethnic groups is played by moderate political leaders who actually represent the interests of the group; the proposed methods are flexible and proceed from principles of equality; and no extraordinary measures are applied. However, the fear of ethnic groups for their future is difficult to eliminate and the range of alternatives that can be applied to calm the anxiety is limited. Preventive measures before the conflict flares up are most effective. The following types of preventive action in the sphere of environmental management should be mentioned.

CONFIDENCE-BUILDING MEASURESto convince ethnic groups that their future is relatively safe and sustainable as regards access to basic natural resources, environmental goods and eco-system services. External mediators can use insurance and other forms of risk management, creating stabilization funds, etc. By combining different types of incentives, the government must assure ethnic minorities of their strong position in the society. In order to overcome the fears of minorities the confidence-building measures must correspond to the needs of those who feel threatened by the majority. It is especially important to establish efficient partnership in decision-making on environment management issues at local level.

MAINTAINING RECIPROCITY IN RELATIONSHIPS.If each party believes in the honesty of the opposite party and recognizes its interests, relations are unlikely to be spoilt by intentional or unintentional aggressive actions. It is important, when carrying out information campaigns for environmental territorial marketing, to avoid abusing the sense of national identity. Otherwise, the distance between groups increases and fear on the part of national minorities regarding possible discrimination against them or their descendants is aggravated.

JOINT EXERCISE OF POWER. When ethnic minorities fear that their exclusion from decision-making on the use of natural resources will force them to obey the interests of the majority, conflict management will require the creation of representative coalition power bodies.

ELECTIONs are a brief episode in the political process but their results can have a huge impact on the relationships of ethnic groups and on an emergent conflict. Where the circumstances are favorable (i.e., there are positive economic development prospects, agreements on the rules of the political game have been agreed, the turn-out is large and all groups have the opportunity to organize and achieve power through coalitions) elections can promote stability. However, if these conditions are not met, a number of risks may emerge: destabilization, discrimination against minorities and individual destructive behavior, including such behavior in the environmental sector. Therefore, elections rules must ensure that ethnic minorities do not feel that their interests are disregarded either today or in the future.

TERRITORIAL AUTONOMY.The latest studies pay much attention to institutional improvements resulting from the decentralization of political systems and strengthening of local and regional authorities. Mechanisms for the timely delegation of power to autonomies can have a positive impact on management of conflicts, especially when they arise in territories with traditional resource use. By assigning some independence to local and regional authorities, national elites can retain the trust of local leaders who exercise administrative functions that are limited, but highly significant in a federal state.

OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE.If the level of confidence is insufficient to defuse the conflict, the minority can only be protected by federal interference, which must amount to more than “fire quenching”. In a first stage, the least stable territories must be identified and supported by specially developed socio-economic programs that prevent ethnic conflicts through the use of institutions and management tools.

Prevention of environmental conflicts at the micro-level

Accelerating globalization implies active importation of new environmental institutions and, as a result, strong psychological pressure on local communities. In this situation we witness a clash between new motivational preferences roused, on the one hand, by a growing individualistic, rational consumer approach to the use of natural resources, and, on the other hand, by the weakening of socio-culturally and ontologically determined environmental constraints for collective survival.

This stimulates individual competition and generates conflicts due to the escalation of destructive behavior of people in their use of shared natural resources (e.g., water and forests) and in pollution (unsanctioned waste dumps, etc.). Field studies carried out in different regions (Yaroslavl, Tomsk, etc.) showed that growing distrust among the rural people in the use of water sources promoted the construction of new private wells while shared ones were neglected, or illegal logging around villages where people used to pick mushrooms and berries. These facts prove that such conflicts have a real economic price and are widespread. Moreover, that growing frequency and mass character of such conflicts in many Russian regions determine the current state of environmental issues at all levels of territorial organization and have direct impact on the choice of environmental management methods.

Conflicts at the micro-level have the following stages: awareness of differences between goals; growing tension; pressure without force; use of force. Some authors prefer to distinguish two main conflict stages: latent conflict and open conflict (participants take action to achieve their goals). The main task of managing environmental conflicts at micro-level is to concentrate on the first phase, when there is still time to prevent aggravation of the disagreement relatively easily and to avoid violence. The open phase of the conflict is much more difficult to quell.

Interaction of individuals within local communities and with government at micro-level

For an individualist, the cornerstone of a healthy, sustainable community is the freedom of the individual; for the proponents of social conservatism, it is a comprehensive set of social values embodied in society. Each of these approaches, classical liberal and classical conservative, prioritizes one supreme value (either freedom or social order) and entails institutional environmental changes of a definite character.

The spread of the neo-liberal behavioral model of the absolutely free individual with all means of personal development and enrichment at his disposal and without any need for a value-based component, leads inevitably to the dilemmas of the free-rider and the prisoner as well as the isolation dilemma (all discussed above). Any expenses related to future generations are perceived as external costs of economic activities. Environmental problems are exacerbated by a trend towards radical liberalization (misinterpreted as freedom from laws, traditions, norms and rules) where people are no longer united by common moral principles. Inevitable growth of transaction costs gradually undermines the very social order, which is the basis of liberal freedom.

By contrast, social conservatism in the environmental sphere calls for compliance with shared environmental values and the observance of a strict social order. As a rule, social conservatism aims to resolve environmental problems through the revival of lost, historically established traditions of resource use without taking account of current processes, notably globalization trends and post-industrialism, which change the positioning of territories and settlements in a rapidly changing world. And the historically established traditions of resource use are, as a rule, seen through “rose-tinted” spectacles, underestimating negative aspects and overestimating the positive aspects.

The proponents of conservatism often try to ignore issues of personal freedom, since their ideology tends to overrule the individual and the development of local communities in favor of the total rule of bureaucracy and administrative “contribute-distribute” mechanisms in environmental management. These mechanisms constrain the environmental opportunism of individuals, entailing high bureaucratic costs and making the economy less competitive in global markets, hampering the inflow of innovations and investments, including those required in the environmental sector.

The need to maintain law and order in the sphere of environmental management is self-evident. But what kind of order? What should it be based on? To what extent does society need strict penalties and law-enforcement measures for the provision of environmental safety? Or would it be better to refer to environmental values? Are these values self-sufficient? Or does society need a strict environmental code? Should environmental values be uniform for everybody or should there be a place for “pluralism of virtues”, even if they are kept within the limits of basic values that are the same for everybody? But how can we identify these? According to A. Etzioni, the answers can only be found in the framework of a synthesis, a balance between the universal character of human rights and public welfare, i.e., a tradeoff between the individual and society [315, p. 315]. It is important to remember that there are not, nor ever have been, absolutely free persons of the kind imagined by individualists. Man is a social being and constantly experiences the impact of cultural, social and moral factors.

Effective methods of environmental management and means for the prevention of micro-level conflicts are to be sought in the framework of a communitarian paradigm, by which a fair and just society needs a balance between order and independence. The communitarian approach assumes a social order that includes a set of common environmental values, which are obligatory for everyone. A fair and just society needs an order associated with the ethical values of its members, because suppression of the individual entails high costs and leads to a situation when people resist compliance (by demanding change or escaping from the system). The gap between individual preferences and social environmental obligations needs to be reduced by expanding the sphere of ethical responsibility, to be understood not as forced obligations, but rather as duties that are readily assumed because imposed in a legitimate and fair manner.

In order for social order in relationships with the environment to be based on a country’s formal institutions, the majority of people must share the country’s basic environmental values. This is a matter of believing in the values rather than being subordinated to them. An orderly system must suppose a civilized attitude of people towards each other and the environment. Civil society must have organizations, which act as mediators between its members and the state with due respect for the preferences of citizens [241]. Such organizations are, primarily, communities that provide strong interpersonal links (local, ethnic, racial and religious) as opposed to voluntary associations, whose influence on their members is very slight (chess clubs, wine-tasting clubs, etc.). Generally speaking, the communitarian approach in the environmental sphere is characterized by a tradeoff between personal independence and order, meaning order which is voluntary, assumes certain basic values and is not all-pervading. Personal freedom has to have some limits.

Relationships inside local communities and with public authorities in respect of environmental management at the micro-level were investigated through the study of water supply to rural households [268]. The aim was to find out how people in rural settlements actually choose sources of water and how the district administrators (the main resource managers at local level) make decisions on organizing domestic water supply. Rural people, unlike town dwellers, can choose their sources of water, so decision-making becomes a multi-factor process depending on the type of water use, economic and technical abilities and socio-cultural traditions. Artesian wells and water pipes in rural areas of Russia that have been built, but are not used, provide eloquent evidence of the fact that builders and designers were sometimes mistaken as to what the rural people really needed. Comparative analysis of factors in choice of sources and means of water supply by local people and administrators showed a misalignment of interests. The researchers were then able to identify existing and emerging conflicts both within rural communities and between people and local government.

The studies were carried out in seven villages of Semlovo Administrative Territory (Danilov Municipal District) in Yaroslavl Region, 20 km from the town of Danilov and 80 km from Yaroslavl. The main sources of water there are subsoil aquifers, temporary water bearing layers as well as surface flowing water and reservoirs (the Kast and Udisna rivers and several ponds). Some local people use open channels and collectors in melioration systems; many households have appliances for collecting rainwater. The total population in the surveyed villages, i.e., the number of people permanently residing and consuming water, is 417 people, 89% of whom living in the village of Semlovo. According to the questionnaires, the number of residents increases by about 80 people in the summer season and 170 people more come to the area for vacation and at weekends. As a result, the load on water sources increases substantially in the summer.

Water for household purposes is taken from various sources (wells, boreholes, springs, rivers and ponds). Many people use rainwater and snow in the winter for household purposes. Semlovo has its own water supply system. The density of water sources in the area is irregular. Calculations57 showed that there are 14.3 sources per 1 km2 on average, the minimum quantity being 5. So households can usually choose between different sources for different purposes. The only exception is multi-storey developments in Semlovo. which have a centralized water supply system and no reserve sources.

Data on water sources in the area are presented in Table 4.3. The analysis shows that in the period from 1976 to 1996 there were considerable changes in the quantity and composition of water sources as well as the manner of their use. Investments in expensive forms of water supply (artesian wells, water supply systems, etc.) plummeted, while the quantity of relatively cheap, shallow wells and small boreholes (up to 15 meters), most of them private, increased. The expensive water supply systems in the urban-type settlements are operated at the expense of meager state-funded and municipal subsidies, so major overhauls are not carried out and there is a lack of funds for basic maintenance. Development of the water supply is financed mainly by private investments (personal savings and local labor). Money is invested mainly in private water sources and previously shared water sources are often privatized after repairs have been completed using private funds.

The most challenging situation is in the areas of multi-storey development in urban-type settlements where, unlike traditional rural housing, people depend on technical facilities and the choice of possible water sources is narrow. The poor quality of running water and frequent disruptions of supply poses a health threat to people living here, who lack private funds to improve their water supply. These issues have been aggravated in the last decade due to lack of centralized public investments, and the situation is unlikely to improve in the near future.

Table 4.3. Changes in the quantity, composition and manner of use of sources of household water supply

Source type

Availability and manner of use in 1996.

Changes in 1976 - 1996.


The most widely used sources of water. Out of 51 available wells 57% are shared (only half of them are in operation). The others are in private use, with 96% being in operation.

The total number of wells hardly changed (2% increase). However, the quantity of wells in shared use decreased by 33% and some of them ceased to function. The quantity of wells in private use increased by 7.5 times. The quality of the wells changed considerably. The older wells are usually over 10 meters deep and reach subsoil water-bearing strata. Wells constructed more recently are little more than 3-4 meters deep and can only reach the temporary water-bearing layer.

Artesian wells

There are 5 artesian wells in shared use, 80% of them inoperative. The water has a bad taste with increased concentration of iron. Operated at the expense of the municipal subsidies.

During 20 years only one artesian well was built. In 1976 there were 4 functioning wells.

Shallow holes (up to 15 m)

There are 6 holes in private use, all functioning. The taste is similar to that of well water.

All holes were drilled in the last decade.


6 springs are known, 3 are in shared use (one of them is abandoned) and 3 are in private use. All springs are used. The general opinion is that the springs offer best water quality.

The quantity of springs did not change. In 1976 all of them were in shared use and functioning.


There are 27 ponds, 67% of them are shared, others privately owned. All in active use, mainly for household purposes

The quantity increased by 23% due to the introduction of privately owned ponds

Water supply system

Available in Semlovo and Toshanovo (has not been in operation in Toshanovo since installation). Operated using municipal subsidies

The water supply pipe was built in the 1980s

Rivers and streams

9 water courses are used, mainly for household purposes

No change

Rain water and melt water

Used in villages for household purposes, occasionally even for drinking (melt water)

No change


One of the tasks of our study was to find out why people reject or prefer a certain water source and how these reasons correlate with each other. Without answers to those questions, the task of recording and regulating consumer choice of alternative water sources cannot be carried out and, consequently, domestic water supply in rural areas cannot be improved. We based our study on G. White’s decision matrix, which he used (together with D. Bradley and A. White) for similar work in East Africa58 [247]. A differential score system was used. The summary valuation of the source was estimated according to the following factors: water quality, technical feasibility of drawing water; economic efficiency; influence of other people. The calculation of the summary rating of water sources showed that the highest score is everywhere given to wells and springs, which, as a rule, supplement or substitute one another. Surface water is also much used, mostly for household purposes. Boreholes have the lowest score.

The findings of the factor analysis of choice of water sources by rural people are presented in Table 4.4. By analyzing the table, we can draw conclusions about the factors, which make rural people choose or reject a certain water source.

QUALITY OF WATER (Q) is not the chief factor in the choice of source. Water from wells and springs is considered to be perfectly suitable for drinking (with preference given to springs). In terms of quality, people often prefer theses sources, even if they have the opportunity of using an artesian well. The women in Semlovo settlement referred to the bad taste of water from artesian wells (compared to well water), its “hardness” and high proportion of rust. However, they would like to have artesian water for their kitchen garden, saying that they would continue to go to the well or spring for drinking water.

Table 4.4. Factors in the choice of water sources by rural people (percentage)


Rejected because of


Preferred because of










Semlovo settlement









Villages: Toshanovo













































Khutor Pochinok









Total (average)









TECHNICAL FEASIBILITY OF DRAWING WATER (T) is foremost among reasons why people reject a source and the third among reasons for preferring a source. People referred to the shortage or occasional absence of water in shallow wells and boreholes and complained about the lack of technical capacity and skilled personnel to repair the wells. Respondents living in Semlovo mentioned frequent breakdowns of water supply and lack of vessels to collect water from rooftops.

ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY (E). This factor played the leading role in substantiating the choice of water source. Most significance is given to proximity to home, i.e., whether the water source is within acceptable walking distance. However, economic efficiency was mentioned less frequently than the technical capabilities and other people’s influence as a reason for rejecting a source. This is indirect proof of the dominance of barter over use of money in rural areas today, and of the fact that household labor is not evaluated in monetary terms.

INFLUENCE OF OTHER PEOPLE (O) was of greatest importance in rejecting a source, but was the least of the reasons for preferring a source (water sources are not regarded by rural people as desired gathering places). This factor should be taken into account when making any decision to improve water supply in rural areas. The interviews showed that the main reasons for this surprising situation are as follows.

First of all, seasonal inflow of people and the associated sharp increase in water consumption exacerbated existing conflicts and generated new ones. These were most acute in villages where the number of summer visitors was especially large. Many locals consider the newcomers to be alien and do not recognize their right to use wells on equal terms, particularly in case of shortage. Our interviews with local people revealed that the term “summer visitor” (Russian “dachnik”) had acquired a new phenomenological meaning: not simply to denote townsfolk coming to the countryside for recreation, but with negative connotations, emphasizing their behavior as conflicting with the traditional rules of community life. There was particular resentment regarding attitudes to sources of drinking water (a sensitive point for rural people), including much criticism of the behavior of town children and teenagers. For example, a housewife in Beklushki village put a lock on a spring, explaining that it was not because she grudged the water but because the town children had drowned a cat in it.

The second point is relocation to villages of urban dwellers who have a different mentality and are unwilling to accept the communitarian traditions of contemporary rural life. According to locals, even people who were born and grew up in the countryside come back to the village as different people after having spent their mature years in town. The communitarian views, mostly retained by the local people, are alien to the new settlers. They do not believe it necessary to comply with the norms of everyday life that remain usual for the countryside, especially because many people who remained in villages have become lazy, inclined to drink and are reluctant to do any work (discouraged, in part, by the numerous social experiments of the 20th century). People who have moved from towns, purchased some livestock and live in the village year-round, are often the most energetic in providing water supply. They build their own wells or restore the old ones at their own cost, but then keep them for their private use. The reluctance to repair shared wells and springs, even if they are indispensable for local people, has other, equally deep roots. It is explained, primarily, by a paternalist culture where people have grown accustomed to depend on government: many people are convinced that repairs to a shared well, even if it is next to their own home and they draw water from it on a daily basis, should be carried out at the cost of the local administration. The survey found that a nearby spring was maintained by the joint efforts of people living in Lomki village as recently as the 1970s, but it was destroyed after cattle herds from collective farms were brought here to drink. Similar situations are typical throughout Yaroslavl Region, as confirmed by studies in all districts.


Efficiency of water supply policy at the micro-level depends not only on the position of individuals, but is also determined by daily decisions made by specific organizations and administrators, who are the real resource managers.

Discussions with leading water supply managers in Danilov municipal district found that most of them follow decision-making stereotypes inherited from the Soviet planned economy. They view supply improvements in rural areas as dependent on additional funding from regional and federal budgets and, even though such funding is not available, they adhere to cost-intensive approaches, emphasizing the need for construction and repairs to the piped water supply system and artesian wells in urban-type settlements and construction of new wells or even of water supply systems in rural areas.

Resource managers need to decide what options to focus on if they are to make household water supply more efficient and expand the range of choices. White’s decision matrixes were used once more, based on interviews with the officials of Danilov municipal district who make decisions on the water supply sector. The matrix was completed in four versions: Danilov town, outskirts and suburbs, urban-type settlements, and villages. The scoring used the same method as in valuation of water sources by rural people. The managers gave highest rating to wells, artesian wells and springs as well as water pipes. Surface water reservoirs and rooftops were not perceived as water sources (even for household needs).

Table 4.5. Factors in the choice of water sources as perceived by municipal officials (percentage)

Settlement Rejected because of (%) Preferred because of (%)
Danilov (town) 31 23 23 23 22 35 30 13
Danilov (outskirts) 30 25 25 20 33 33 22 12
Urban-type settlement 28 23 23 26 54 31 15 -
Villages 26 19 21 34 35 25 30 10
Total (average) 29 22 23 26 36 31 24 9

Comparing the factors for choice of water sources as perceived by municipal administrators (Table 4.5), one can see that the quality of water is the top priority both for rejecting and preferring a source. Technical feasibility and economic efficiency are also important. Special emphasis is placed on technology as a factor for preference of sources. The influence of other people plays a significant role for rejection, but a minimal role for preference. So municipal officials tend to focus on high quality of the water source (sources where quality is below official standards in force have not been considered) and give low value to the influence of other people. The mismatch between the views of resource managers and rural people in choice of water sources illustrates the absence of real orientation to consumer interests in managerial decisions on the water supply sector, i.e., a conflict of interests between managers and people.

On the whole, the analysis of micro-level conflicts in environment management as exemplified by drinking water supply in rural areas shows overall deterioration in recent years, both within rural communities and in their relations with public authorities. Studies made regarding multi-purpose use of forests gave similar results. The results reflect a general weakening of value-based and social orientation of individuals and worsening of the socio-economic situation in rural areas in the 1990s.

The situation calls for major adjustment of current environmental policy, which must be refocused on local territorial communities, especially in rural areas. In an environmental management perspective, these are the people whose life is most dependent on nature protection. The institution of the rural community (“obshchina”), which for centuries coordinated the action of country dwellers and prevented dangerous escalation of critical situations in the use of shared resources, is nowadays much weakened in Russia and attempts to revive such old traditions of communitarian resource use could entail social conservatism and regress. In particular, promotion of the concept of free and commonly accessible water, forestry and other resources in the context of the market economy would only promote destructive behavior.

It is therefore extremely important, in Russian conditions, to take account of what globalization experts have discovered about so-called “glocalization”, understood as the adaptation of global economic practice to local conditions, and also used as a conceptual term to describe restructuring of the social and institutional space [407; 434]. We would agree with A.Yu. Sogomonov that “from now on (i.e., in the increasingly globalized world – A.F.) territories are not only distinguished by how ‘progressive’ or ‘backward’ they are historically, according to some imaginary modernization scale, but rather by the unique patterns, by which their inclusion in global flows is mixed with local cultural traditions and social foundations” [226, p. 431]. In other words, territorial combinations of imported and socio-culturally determined institutions are now creating a diverse and dynamic structure of the institutional space.

The rapidly changing situation is characterized by growth of socio-psychological tension and more irrational actions by individuals. This trend cannot be addressed merely by the reinstatement of past institutional structures. So the search for new approaches and methods of mitigating and preventing conflicts at the micro-level must become an essential part of environmental activities in the globalized world. The proposed methods of environmental management must make resource users less prone to emotional and irrational behavior, preventing deviant behavior. The prevention of environmental conflicts at the micro-level depends on correlation of individualism and social order as envisaged by society and by government.

Institutional and organizational measures to prevent micro-level environmental conflicts

The most important vector for preventing environmental conflicts at the micro-level is the reinforcement of local self-government and support for civil initiatives, which address sustainable development issues. The right of the people to regulate and control social affairs is an integral component of the democratic system and is formalized by law at federal and regional levels59. It can also be exercised in exogenous, non-systemic forms (i.e., not included in the system of municipal government). However, the development of such forms of participation in government is only possible in the context of advanced civil society, where citizens understand the meaning and functions of collective interests, which is currently not typical of most regions in Russia.

At present, rural and town people are very rarely involved in making environmental decisions, since there is no efficient system of institutions for public participation in environmental management. The “zemstvo” (county council) traditions of the Russian Empire have been forgotten, and the elected local government bodies of the Soviet period (however inefficient and politicized they were at the time) have been abolished. The so-called local self-government bodies, which now exist, are identified with the municipal administration in most regions. In rural areas the former selsoviets (“village soviets”, which were elected bodies, though with major qualifications) have been replaced by departments of the municipal administration. These changes have weakened the bond between people and local government.

One response to this situation in recent years has been the appearance of “territorial social self-government”, where neighbors in sub-districts (settlements and villages, housing estates, apartment blocks, streets, etc.) assume joint responsibility for implementing their own independent initiatives on local issues. This creates a managing body, which is close to ordinary people, and can link local government with the real life of people, providing protection of their collective interests, including their environmental interests. Extensive experience and diverse forms of territorial self-government now exists in Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Ivanovo, Tambov, etc. The following forms deserve mention.


Such meetings are the most common institution for collective responsibility at local community level and are particularly common in rural settlements and villages. They aim to legitimize collective decisions and formalize informal norms and rules. Nowadays, however, the powers of such meetings are rather ambiguous and their decisions are of an advisory character. They are most often convened on the initiative of the local administration or deputies of local representative bodies. Community meetings have retained the character of direct democracy. They discuss a limited range of issues and are most efficient in making decisions on the staffing and operation of local government bodies. They may discuss and decide on issues of area improvement and infrastructure development, but they rarely deal with environmental problems and their role in the organization of collective (welfare) work is very limited. Community meetings cannot at present be counted as a fully-fledged form of social self-government, but they are the most durable institution for ordinary people to influence decision-making in local government in rural areas and they have long historical traditions60.


These are, as a rule, unincorporated entities and have largely replaced the Soviet-era domkoms (resident committees). They have recently become more active due to current reform of the Russian housing and utilities sector and the transfer of housing from corporate to municipal ownership. The committees are often set up on the basis of municipally owned housing stock, since housing cooperatives already have their own committees. They are usually established spontaneously at meetings of residents’ action groups. Their main functions are area improvements (including environmental aspects) and interaction with the administrative housing and utilities bodies. They do not make claims for budget funding but gather their own efforts and resources to initiate improvements and lobby their interests. Such committees often act as the initiators of socially useful work and various events (from minor repairs and housing infrastructure maintenance to public order enforcement). They are limited to a small range of tasks and have a very simple structure.


These are the most advanced forms of territorial civil organization in Russia today. They nearly always function as legal entities, are managed by elected boards on a paid basis and have a definite organizational structure. They usually function in towns and cover large areas (one or more housing estates). Homeowners associations are mostly focused on issues of housing stock maintenance and lobbying collective interests with government bodies. The activities of territorial self-government committees are more diverse. They are set out by local (municipal) authorities and formalized by regulatory documents, as prescribed by national law. Such committees can initiate (independently or together with government bodies) area improvements, garbage removal, repairs and reconstruction of residential buildings, infrastructure facilities, roads and pavements using municipal budgets or their own funds. Despite having various organizational forms, territorial self-government bodies generally unite people and utilize available natural resources (water, green areas, beaches, recreation areas, clean air, etc.) in their work. However, their rights and responsibilities are quite vague and need appropriate organizational and legal support. Positive examples of their activity include instances in Kaliningrad, where such committees have assumed commitments to protect the environment through monitoring and control, organization of urban and sanitation improvements, and maintaining and expanding green areas. Territorial civil self-government bodies (in various forms) could become the core of a system of local self-government in the future, since they can institutionally formalize most of the rights and obligations vested in the population, including environmental rights and obligations, and can do so relying on the historical experience of local self-government in specific settlements (communities, fraternities, etc.). Territorial self-government organizations have positive environmental impact, because:

  • ecological and social values inherent in the environmental goods and eco-system services, which people view as essential, obtain an efficient mechanism for their institutionalization;
  • people acquire practical skills in collective decision-making on conserving and improving the living environment, and organizing social life;
  • they improve the interaction of residents with public authorities for the implementation of socially significant decisions;
  • they make municipal officials pay more attention to the opinions of local residents on specific development matters, primarily in the environmental sphere.

This offers a way forward to consolidate the democratic foundations of self-government and prevent conflicts between existing formal and informal environmental institutions at the micro-level. As civil culture and the practice of making joint decisions improves (a process that is inseparable from the growth of individual responsibility within communities), territorial self-government organizations will become the primary mechanism for formalizing informal environmental constraints. This process will, however, take time because it is related to such categories as moral voice and moral dialogue as components of responsive communitarianism.


The Socio-Cultural Approach in Environmental Management by Objectives

Environmental management by objectives is common practice in the world today. In its contemporary version such management is based on programs that aim to achieve environmentally significant results rather than simply removing sources of pollution (the dominant approach in the centralized planned economy). Environmental management by objectives stipulates minimal interference in the internal plans of economic agents and rejection of an “individualized” approach in setting quotas for resource use. It proceeds from the need to consider the opinions of different social groups and is based on their activities as coordinated in resource saving and conservation programs. Management by objectives strives to involve all interested social groups, and this is the condition for successful achievement of the objectives, because no coercion can compensate for the absence of cooperation in solving problems. The established objectives must be based on realistic calculations that take account of available financial and labor resources. Development and implementation of such a program includes a series of stages to be performed over a relatively long period of time, with the following factors playing the key role:

  • clear definition of the nature of the problem to be solved;
  • determining the best organizational, political and technology solutions;
  • minute elaboration of required actions to ensure their compliance with environmental policy;
  • list of the organizations involved and their responsibilities, sources of funding, proposals for legislative acts, etc.

An important condition of management by objectives in the environmental sector is the availability of information on existing pollution sources and levels. This methodology is changing in tandem with growing globalization, movement towards a post-industrial society (particularly in developed economies) and is reflected in two main interconnected global development vectors.

On the one hand, the role of unified supra-national tools for regulating conservation activities (international conventions and constraints, ISO 14000 and other international standards) is growing; markets for environmental goods and eco-services (e.g., biodiversity) are expanding and become global; and inequality between regions (“center” and “periphery”) and between local territories is increasing. This necessitates a new positioning of places in the geo-economic space. On the other hand, and of equal importance, the socio-cultural specifics of local territories and cities are increasingly decisive for attracting innovations and investments, leading to a greater role for local public authorities in environmental management. All these factors have considerable impact on the character of institutional environmental change.

In the globalized world relationships do not rely on personal “connections”, informal agreements between the staff of supervising agencies and managers of resource-using entities. Their basis is strict compliance with laws and contracts. So the key management issue is to ensure orderliness and contractual culture. Environmental norms and rules, contracts and commitments are honored and fulfilled for two reasons: the law is enforced; and the parties trust each other (reputations are at stake). The more reliable the expectations of the outcome of environmental cooperation, the more predictable the partnership relations, the more productive innovative activity in the environmental sector becomes.

Ever greater use of universal norms in joint activities promotes cooperation based on responsibility for complying with these norms. It assumes an internal readiness for cooperation and constructive interaction. The more opportunities for exchange there are, the greater the rent from cooperation becomes. Closed territorial communities with little potential for exchange are capable of only very limited prosperity (including environmental well-being) compared with communities whose cultural traditions stimulate extensive and diverse cooperation.

At the same time, it should be noted that increasingly evident post-industrial trends are stimulating institutional changes that take more account of the socio-cultural features of territories. This is mainly determined by the increasing role of human capital in providing sustainable growth (Chapter 1). The initiators of change must consider the labor ethic, which is traditional for the given community, how people motivate their activities and the underlying principles of their socio-cultural context (which can vary from honest, open-minded, tolerant behavior to the dominance of fraud and opportunism). There is, for example, a substantial difference between a culture where the work ethic prevails and a culture that prefers leisure. A society with honesty is dominant can save on controlling functions because people carry out their work, guided by their moral voice.

It is generally recognized that the main obstacle to effective transition to the post-industrial society is low efficiency of formal institutions and excessive role of informal relations and practices. Such conditions hamper innovation and weaken the formal business ethic, making it difficult to coordinate actions under formal contracts and promoting fragmentation of the geo-economic space. Unexpectedly, this provides additional arguments for strengthening local self-government institutions at the earliest stages of modernization. So the critical task of environmental management becomes the stimulation of institutional environmental changes in two basic directions. Firstly, reinforcement of Russia’s uniform institutional space and increased role of formal unified environmental institutions with direct effect, i.e., those, which do not depend on local and regional conditions. The use of such formal uniform institutions is necessary in order to join the world economy and comply with the norms of business ethics that are accepted in international contractual relations. For this purpose, basic rules of the game should be established at federal level to regulate the use of unified environmental tools with due regard for national specifics. Secondly, the institutional efficiency of environmental management in local territories should be raised by the use of tools that ensure interaction, with minimal transaction costs, between imported (formal, unified) institutions and socio-culturally determined environmental institutions in order to achieve environmental priorities. It is highly important to coordinate the activities of resource users at the level of local territories and settlements. Here, institutional regulations imposed by global and national environmental constraints and rules can be effectively supplemented by a contribution from the local communities, which are directly exposed to environmental pollution and natural resource depletion.

The basic tools for institutionalizing socio-cultural features of territories for environmental management are local special-purpose territorial environmental programs. In the context of increasing globalization and post-industrial trends such programs promote reformation of territorial institutional matrixes, which blend imported, unified and traditional socio-cultural environmental institutions. But in Russia the inherited predominance of “contribute-distribute” institutional matrixes causes the importance of local territorial environmental programs to be underestimated. While territorial managers are keen to develop special-purpose, vertically integrated programs (similar to industry-oriented programs), the importance of involving the general public in environmental management (as partners rather than as executors of instructions “from above”) and of reaching compromise between resource managers and different social groups does not, as a rule, strike a chord with them. The fact that payments for natural resource use represent a negligible share (under 5%) of local budget revenues is partly to blame for this61.

A review of environmental programs designed in Russia in the 1990s shows that most of them, notwithstanding market rhetoric, were prepared on the basis of command-administrative traditions. The designers make the assumption that they have complete information and have prepared a good action plan (to be transmitted to local administrators and people) for general implementation. Such programs usually include a set of technical actions and organizational measures (usually based on special-purpose financing) without any assessment of their efficiency in the varied socio-cultural conditions of local territories (e.g., “The National Action Plan for Environment Protection in Russia” [161]; “The Volga Renaissance” [51]; “The Upper Volga Regional Action Plan for Environment Protection” [206], etc.). Such programs ignore the existence of informal institutions in real life. As a consequence, the task of minimizing transaction costs when importing environmental institutions is not considered at all62, and the projects, sooner or later, have to be shelved. At best, only a number of actions are implemented, mainly those financed directly from budgets. The overall environmental situation is not improved, and destruction of shared natural resources and protected territories, accumulation of solid waste, etc., continue unabated, increasing the alienation between government and ordinary people.

Escape from this vicious circle depends on correcting the methodology for developing territorial environmental programs to enable the integration of institutional imports with specific environmental institutions that are characteristic of the socio-cultural conditions of concrete territories. Special attention must be paid to mechanisms for reducing the transaction costs of importation, including: mutual alignment of environmental goals formulated at different levels of territorial organization; prevention of environmental conflicts (caused by the collapse of communitarian foundations or inter-ethnic contradictions); and coordination between local communities.

Institutional analysis is required in order to take due account of the behavior of individuals and social groups, their legal powers to own property, the impact of price and value proportions in the resource-use sector as well as the ideological aspect. The involvement of local leaders (formal and informal), managers and the general public in practical work is equally important, giving them a part in creation of the program and ensuring that their opinions are considered and not ignored (at least, listened to). These parties will then regard the program as the outcome of their combined efforts and will be ready to address problems together in the course of program development and implementation (generate a habit of listening to each other and making collective decisions). This is the only way to exert positive impact on the environmental motivation of individuals and thus raise the efficiency of environmental management.

Institutionalization of socio-cultural features of territories through special-purpose territorial environmental programs requires substantial adjustment of local and regional management of conservation work. Central attention must be given to the development and implementation of local action plans with their mutual alignment at the level of Russian regions. Such an approach (with the assistance of M.A. Fomenko) was developed and tested in 1996-2000 in Yaroslavl Region and its elements were also used in the Nizhny Novgorod, Ryazan, Kaluga, Tomsk and other regions. Aspects and outcomes were discussed at various meetings attended by experts of municipal and regional governments, resource-sector organizations (in federal and local subordination), monitoring agencies, civil activists and local business elites. The main findings and propositions were set out in guidelines at federal and regional level [150; 198]. This chapter presents the general outline and some specifics of the design and implementation of environmental programs at district level (towns and rural territories) and at the level of the regions of the Russian Federation. These programs assemble documents and respective systems of measures in the framework of a socio-cultural methodology of environmental management.

Environmental management by objectives in towns and cities

Globalization poses new challenges to cities and towns, requiring adjustments to environmental management. The most critical issues are the widening gap between rich and poor and the growth of poverty. Most Russian towns and cities are experiencing polarization between poor and relatively wealthy neighborhoods.

Competition for investments is also leading to greater functional differentiation between cities. Market mechanisms are impacting the housing sector and the sale and purchase of land, impossible in the Soviet period, has again become common. While bringing obvious economic benefits, private ownership also means that poor people can be deprived of the right of access to environmental goods and eco-system services that were previously free of charge. For instance, a beautiful landscape or proximity to a city park substantially increases the market price of a property or land plot. There is therefore a temptation and a possibility to evict residents from such places (on grounds, for example, of rent or mortgage arrears), i.e., forced relocation and denial of rights. Privatization of utilities is also becoming a reality. Water supply, garbage collection, power supply are all being transferred to private ownership. These are potentially profitable businesses and, as globalization progresses, such markets will be open to both domestic and international entities. In the new conditions provision of basic needs will be completely determined by the ability of people to pay for such services. Without a prudent social policy, utilities may only be available to wealthier households, leading to hardship and deterioration of the environment in poor areas.

Overall, globalization increases the load on the urban environment because it tends to prioritize economic benefits over improvement of environment quality. The events of September 11, 2001, in New York and Washington, as well as terror acts in Moscow and other cities have brought a new threat, that of catastrophes caused by terrorist action.

The experience of world cities summarized at various international forums (Habitat, etc.) shows that it is almost impossible to improve the life of people without orientation towards sustainable development, necessarily accompanied by an efficient environmental policy. The development and implementation of such a policy must take account of several issues. First of all, in the conditions of inequality that now exist, different social groups have different access to the development resources (including natural resources). Also, damage to the environment (like other hardships) has the most serious effect on underprivileged social groups. Special environmental regulation measures and special indicators (indices) are therefore needed to monitor how factors of social equity influence the use of a city’s environmental resources. Secondly, environment degradation hinders the socio-economic development of cities and towns and reduces their investment appeal. Pollution of water, air and urban land imposes additional costs on businesses and the manufacturing sector, it raises the cost of utility services provided to households, and environmental risks impair the well-being of the population. As a consequence, the cost of production goes up, which undermines its competitiveness. In a market economy, the inefficient use and depletion of natural resources in towns drives up prices for the high-quality resources that are needed to produce goods and services (especially prices for water) and the costs of health care, thus hindering innovations and investments. The situation is aggravated by the new environmental risks.

Environmental management in cities needs to be organized in a way that nurtures their innovative attractiveness, including attractiveness for new environmental technologies. This is best done by the improvement of communications infrastructure, education and cultural facilities as well as the state of the environment and availability of high-quality natural resources (water, air, recreation, etc.). Such an approach makes environmental activity the central element for qualitative growth and raising investments to pursue sustainable development. So development policy must proceed from the principle that innovative appeal depends, not only on the presence of manufacturing companies but also on the state of the urban environment and living conditions. Expansion of “brownfield” industries (i.e., economic growth accompanied by water and air pollution, eco-system degradation, etc.) without proper focus on environmental management will not enable a city to develop advanced technologies (microelectronics, software), tourism and other industries that require a high-quality environment and living conditions.

The new situation poses new challenges for the choice of urban development strategies and offers a different understanding of wealth. as an aggregate of economic, natural, human and social capital, to be measured using indicators of sustainable development. Such indicators, when included in action plans and programs, enable social and environmental issues to be integrated with qualitative growth. A considerable number of “guidelines” and “methodological recommendations” have now been developed, which embody the knowledge obtained from qualified analysis and generalizations following the implementation of urban environmental policy according to Agenda 21. The review of those materials and our own experience of similar strategic projects developed for a number of Russian towns (Yaroslavl, Danilov and others) show that, as globalization gathers pace, environmental management by objectives should not only ensure the use of unified environmental institutions but also ensure their mutual complementarity and interaction with local, socially determined institutions and existing practice at minimum costs. Attention to the socio-cultural features of towns and cities is of principal importance in the solution of this task.

Without considering all the elements of urban management by objectives, we will here point out the most essential of them, for which socio-cultural features must be taken into account.


Resource managers, leaders of social groups and other stakeholders must agree on main environmental issues in the framework of environmental strategies and action plans. So the development of a strategy or an action plan is not merely a technical task but is an effort to reach compromise across a whole range of technical, political, social, cultural and economic factors and interests. These documents unite the views of main resource users regarding their involvement in environmental activities, and serve to formalize them in harmonized decisions. However, the experience of cities and towns in Europe and North America indicates that, in the post-industrial age, this is not sufficient: it is also necessary that the general public, both individuals and, particularly, local communities, should become involved in environmental work.

Environmental strategies and action plans must ensure a broad consensus on issues, goals and strategies. That implies understanding of the cultural context of urban development, because success can only be achieved by the involvement of all stakeholders in identifying and analyzing environmental issues, examining and discussing alternative environmental strategies and, finally, creating a harmonized environmental plan. Approaches that recognize differences in interests and encourage open involvement and common responsibility of a wide range of stakeholders are usually more successful than attempts to avoid conflict, e.g., imposed agreements or a so-called neutral technical solution. The process of reconciling different interests helps stakeholders to feel their contribution to decision-making on urban development issues, and to realize their powers and responsibilities, enabling definite commitments to joint action.

Environmental strategies and action plans need to be accompanied by a campaign clarifying the goals and priorities of environmental policy to the general public so that different social groups can better understand their benefits and costs. This is of prime importance for attaining compromise. Purposeful work with the general public during the design and implementation of programs involves stakeholders in environmental activities and provides a realistic basis for agreement and development of viable strategies and action plans. Presentations and reports should be organized to make the design and implementation of strategies and action plans more explicit, facilitating continuous participation of stakeholders in negotiating environmental actions. In particular, the general public should be familiarized with the following analytical information:

  • an overview of environmental issues and description of relevant ecological systems, main priorities and their impact on urban development, as well as the list of stakeholders involved in their solution;
  • alternatives under consideration, the pros and cons of each alternative from the point of view of each stakeholder, and procedures leading to agreement on the chosen alternative;
  • comparative analysis of the alternatives measuring their costs and benefits in terms of social, economic and environmental indicators;
  • indicators and statistics which can be used for monitoring actions and tracking results (including actions financed by the funding body's environmental budget).
  • long-term environmental goals and objectives, as well as a set of interim targets (priorities) for step-by-step action;
  • measures (proposed and implemented) to strengthen the institutional and organizational conditions of environmental management;

Socio-cultural features of territories must be taken into account when prioritizing urban environmental issues and evaluating different environmental strategy options from the standpoint of their feasibility and availability of resources, since a clear understanding of the environmental traditions and values of different social groups ensure that all factors are taken account of when reviewing the alternatives (SWOT analysis, etc.). The criteria for selection of priorities are worked out with the participation of all stakeholders when determining the social and economic consequences that will arise from the solution of each environmental problem and to what extent negative local effects can be prevented or mitigated. The outcome is an additional set of conditions for just distribution of the benefits and costs among different social groups and for increase of reliability of the final strategic agreements. This helps to avoid needless efforts to design a technically ideal environmental strategy which, in any case, would not be realized, because it would lack the support of the local population.

The socio-cultural features of territories are an important factor determining whether the tools of environmental regulation can be employed in practice. The success of environmental management depends on how efficiently socio-culturally determined, territory-specific institutions will ultimately interact with imported institutions. The use of understandable and acceptable regulatory tools (local knowledge and human potential, additional capacities in the form of economic and financial resources, unused private sector and household sector funds, etc.) helps to mobilize additional resources for efficient implementation of an environmental strategy. A socio-culturally determined approach is the only way to motivate all social groups to engage in solving environmental problems through coordinated and efficient use of an extensive range of tools, including laws and instructions, budgetary and economic stimuli, strategic investments, social information and educational campaigns.

It is important to remember that, in the framework of environmental action plans, environmental institutions are usually designed independently from one another. However, their efficiency is increased if they are combined into a package of mutually beneficial actions, e.g., in the form of an agreement or memorandum of joint actions. The overall efficiency of environmental institutions in terms of a cost–benefit trade-off can be significantly improved by means of coordination. But the benefits and costs of different social groups can vary when such a comprehensive approach is used. So environmental institutional changes need to be discussed from various positions using the methods of collective decision-making.


Information support plays an important role in urban environmental management. People will support conservation activities to the extent that they are informed about them. Environmental regulations and the range of decisions that can be taken by individuals depend on the socio-cultural features of a territory, because not knowledge can only initiate environmental activities if it is mediated by culture. Continuous efforts are needed to identify stakeholders in the private, government and non-government sectors and to determine top-priority environmental issues, based not only on scientific knowledge but also on discussions with stakeholders to identify what has most influence on quality of life, especially for high-risk groups. It is equally important to identify and assess the social consequences of environmental activities, particularly with respect to poor, underprivileged social groups.

Raising public awareness of environmental issues depends on the following socio-cultural approaches.

PREPARATION OF CRITICAL INFORMATION IN THE FORM OF SUMMARIES AND OVERVIEWS.These help people to grasp the complexity and multi-factor nature of environmental issues in their city, and the interdependence between social, cultural, economic development and the state of the environment. It may be useful to compile an environmental profile of the city which would sum up and synthesize existing information regarding environmental issues and sustainable development. Creation and updating of the city’s environmental profile (as new data appear) involves emphasizing the interrelationship between environmental issues and the interests of all social groups. In this way the profile encourages a dialog between all stakeholders and promotes deeper mutual understanding of the key agents involved in environmental processes. The city’s environmental profile is very important for attracting external investors and boosting innovative activities in the environmental sector.

PREPARATION OF INFORMATION FOCUSING ON THE INTERESTS OF DIFFERENT SOCIAL GROUPS IN ORDER TO ENGAGE THEM IN ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVITIES. As well as coordinating the efforts of public, private and non-government organizations, environmental management by objectives must involve social groups, which are often outside formal planning and management systems (small entrepreneurial businesses; women and children; risk groups, especially the poor, etc.). Diverse methods for purposeful involvement of all stakeholders in various aspects of environmental management (primarily through awareness raising) can empower the stakeholders and give them a sense of ownership rights and responsibility.

It is particularly important to provide environmental information at the stage of approving environmental priorities that takes account of the interests of different social groups. Only once environmental issues have been determined and main stakeholders take an active part in their discussion can it be decided which problems are to receive top priority.


Environmental action plans have often been “shelved”, and this occurred with particular frequency in the 1990s, on the wave of liberal market reforms. The main reason was over-optimistic expectations that the market would automatically regulate development. It is now important, therefore, to include environmental planning as a part of urban government, supported by legal and organizational regulations. This is only possible if due attention is paid to the socio-cultural features of cities and to historically determined informal institutions and practices in the environmental sphere. This can provide “broad systemic” opportunities for the design and implementation of programs involving all strata of society. But it requires improvement of institutional regulation through awareness raising, education, training and facilitating communication. Measurable indicators that are comparable in time are need in order to monitor and assess the institutional changes. Several vectors of relevance should be mentioned for institutionalization of environmental planning.

CREATING INSTITUTIONAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES TO ENSURE THE COMPREHENSIVENESS OF ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING. The creation of long-term systemic opportunities for implementing planned actions is crucial for improving environmental planning and making it sustainable. Environmental planning must be built into municipal organizations. This requires: structural and legislative reforms, amendment of current budgets, education, awareness raising and competence of the general public. All these will be most efficient if they are not treated as one-off actions.

INSTITUTIONALIZING METHODS OF GENERAL PARTICIPATION IN DECISION MAKING. The success of management by objectives in the environmental sphere depends not only on identifying and mobilizing all stakeholders, but also on giving them respective powers. This can be achieved by: consistent joint use and dissemination of information; expansion of the range of programs for non-government and civil organizations; training sessions for small organizations; technical assistance to informal groups; and teaching public sector organizations to use quick response methods and to understand the needs and prospects of non-government groups and organizations.

ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT.Environmental planning requires the creation of new and restructuring of existing information, financial and product flows as well as mechanisms for coordinating the activities of different organizations. This requires adequate organizational infrastructure. Experience shows that implementation of environmental plans is more effective if implemented through existing local organizations, even if their functions and programs have to be corrected. For action plans to succeed, it is very important to secure organizational support from leading administrators and managers of organizations, which can obtain or provide the required material and financial resources.

CONTROL, ASSESSMENT AND ADJUSTMENT OF AN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT-BY-OBJECTIVES SYSTEM.Control and assessment are vital for monitoring the course of implementation of programs and events, since they provide answers to such questions as: is the information dependable? What are the gaps or problems in the coordinating strategy? Are the stakeholders coordinating their efforts successfully? Are the program and action plans being realized successfully? The sets of the data obtained when preparing the city’s environmental profile and subsequent work with strategies and action plans can provide the main indicators for monitoring and assessment. Experience suggests that the most successful monitoring and assessment systems are those, which are not limited to individual technical improvements but focus immediately on the efficiency of the environmental management process as a whole and promote participation by all organizations and stakeholders, particularly leading decision makers.


Urban territories raise and use the available funds according to their specific development priorities, which include considerable environmental transformations. Economic globalization means that cities can maximize strategic impact by taking advantage of new opportunities and instruments offered by positioning in global markets, and not merely in regional and national markets.

The broadly conceived geographical specifics of a city, its positive positioning in the rapidly changing world, should be regarded as assets, which can give a powerful impetus to environmental management by objectives. Creative use of strategic advantages in global markets can promotes the city’s development and give it a new stimulus or direction. For instance, the dramatic changes in the institutional and political structures that occurred in Central/Eastern Europe and South Africa in the 1990s opened broad opportunities for them enlist external support for progress in ways that were impossible before. Even reconstruction work after disasters can help to solve environmental problems thanks to extensive investments in construction and accompanying political support.

In general, although the majority of material and financial resources for the implementation of environmental programs are contributed by local sources, external assistance and technical skills play an important role. So every city should work on ways to attract and use external support and link the process of urban environmental management by objectives with appropriate external aid, as far as possible.

Environmental management by objectives in rural areas

Despite a number of indisputable advantages due to new opportunities for accessing technologies and markets for farming products, accelerating globalization exacerbates the problems of rural development by increasing disparity in the allocation of goods and financial resources. In Russia over 70% of people in poverty live in rural areas, so the problem of poverty eradication is particularly acute in the countryside. For want of investments, rural people have been driven to the depletion of basic natural resources (necessary for the development of local communities), intensifying their poverty. These trends are usually accompanied by outflow of population, waning of cultural traditions, breakdown of economic links, shrinking of traditional crafts and degradation of local self-government institutions.

This situation tends to alienate people from government and environmental requirements are increasingly perceived as hostile to ordinary people. Destructive behavior towards the most accessible shared natural resources (illegal logging, poaching, etc.) is on the increase, as many people choose to ignore collective responsibility for honoring social interests and seek individual benefits by breaking laws and neglecting traditions of resource use that were formerly perceived as inviolable.

In the poorest rural territories all attempts at rational utilization of natural resources seem unworkable, even though the available stock of natural resources is the chief source of income for common survival and their utilization is viewed by the local administration and investors as the basis of investment and innovative appeal. Private investments in the Russian natural resource sector (except for the extraction of the most lucrative strategic resources, e.g., crude hydrocarbons) are still negligible. The investments that are made aim exclusively to make private profit, while neglecting possible depletion of natural assets that are indispensible for the development of local communities. This situation entails wasteful use of natural resources and low, even negative productivity from the standpoint of the economic and social development of territories, accelerating the degradation of local communities.

Expanding globalization intensifies competition for investments between rural territories and between cities. Each community has to reconsider its place in the changing world. This implies the necessity of new positioning of rural territories in the economic space. Only sustainable rural territories with a favorable investment climate have real prospects for raising funds (particularly in the medium and long term). Their main task, therefore, is to present themselves in the market as unique and appealing. Environmental and social well-being plays an important role in this, since serious investors would not envisage development of their business in territories with high risks of social crisis.


Environmental management in rural areas must be oriented to overcoming the crisis of their adaptation to globalization trends. This implies working out a new strategy of rational resource use and environment protection with respective action plans for each specific area63. Their main distinguishing features are:

  • the use of innovative approaches, creation of favorable conditions for external investments, active marketing of the territory;
  • comprehensive approach to resource use and rural development;
  • expansion of non-agricultural opportunities for use of natural resources, goods and eco-system services in development of the rural territory.

By defining geographical, social and cultural features, planning documents must create an image of the territory that appeals to investors, including identification and explanation of the most profitable vectors for investment in rational resource use and environmental protection. Special measures will be required to expand markets for environmental goods and services and to create jobs in the sphere of rational utilization of natural resources. Investments should contribute to such rational utilization, increasing the economic and social benefits of preventing their depletion. Otherwise, investments may even be detrimental to sustainable development.

It the current context of low investment in rural development, only a few places are likely to become “growth areas”. The pattern of this distribution is bound to be very different in the post-industrial era from what it was in the industrial era. Success in attracting investments depends little on actual need for them: investors are motivated by a clear understanding of how their investments and their business will be treated in the territory, and what kind of institutional environment exists there. The experience of many countries has shown that not all rural territories are capable of showcasing their specific features as attractive for external investors and thereby raising funding, even in the medium term. Investment packages to support the development of territories are increasingly rare in today’s world-economy, and private investments in specific projects that promise high returns are much more common. So unevenness in levels of development are increasing and the gap between more and less developed areas is increasingly evident. This is leading to the emergence of areas with a “relative investment vacuum”, where only two development scenarios are possible: development without growth or gradual relocation of people to other territories.

DEVELOPMENT WITHOUT GROWTH[93, p. 33-41], without illusions of substantial external investments, is typical for most of Russia’s rural territories, where resource use is long established. There are many examples of development without growth in world practice, where development policy has been based on measures that compensate (as far as possible) for the loss of capital, which sustainability of the territory had relied on, and that are directed to rational utilization of natural resources. However, unabated loss of capital (when loss of financing and facilities are exacerbated by losses of human and environmental capital, which are difficult to account in monetary terms), can doom territorial communities to extinction by depopulation. The following measures are best suited to prevent such a scenario:

  • Identify and block, as far as possible, the leakage of funds from the local economy. it is particularly important to stimulate direct links between local producers and local consumers.
  • Implement energy-saving technologies, which are both economically and environmentally efficient. Money saved on purchase of energy resources represents additional income exempt from taxation, most of which is returned to the economy to support local business. Development and implementation of an energy-saving program also provides employment for local people.
  • Support and encourage new forms of local business. The local government must locate underused sources of income and mobilize them in the economy. The most economically and socially efficient areas are manufacturing and crafts that use local natural resources efficiently.

Management by objectives in a scenario of development without growth must aim to increase the wealth of a territory by efficient use of the available capital, natural and human, rather than external sources of funds. Money flow is stimulated, which, in turn, makes the territory more appealing for investment, particularly for small business. However, when attracting new business, rural administrators must realize that the desired goals have to be compatible with local conditions and prospects for sustainable development, including those relating to the environment. Clear definition of socio-cultural features plays an important role in the environmental management of such territories, since it helps to enhance the living conditions of local people and, what is particularly important, attracts investments. What is achieved is not only the maintenance and development into the future of positive trends, which have already taken shape, but also solution of the strategic task of ensuring the territory’s sustainable development on the basis of its socio-cultural features. The methods used for this purpose must ensure management flexibility and territorial coordination between resource sector organizations and social groups.

GRADUAL RELOCATION OF THE POPULATIONto new territories and transformation of the depopulated areas into public forests, national parks, etc. This is the prospect for many rural territories in Siberia and the Russian North in the conditions fostered by globalization. The experience of numerous countries (US, Canada, African countries, etc.) show the possibility and expediency of such solutions.

One must agree with Ye.A. Shvarts [299] that such a scenario is objectively relevant for Russia, given the current contraction of its economic space. However, as mentioned in Chapter 1, developmental stages (including urbanization phases) are supplemented by other cycles, which can coexist with and modify the dynamics of territory development. Moreover, one and the same territory may be characterized by both industrial and post-industrial trends, because different social groups and individuals may follow traditional and post-industrial value patterns. The expansion of post-industrial patterns is encouraged by the rapid development of information networks, faster and cheaper communications, the Internet, mobile phones, etc.

As has been well argued by R. Robertson [434], application of the consciousness and activities of individuals to understanding of globalization processes leads to a reconsideration of the relationship between the global and the local. Robertson emphasizes that the global is not made “from above” but rather “from below”, i.e., through local phenomena and through a gradual process where multiple facts of interaction with the representatives of other countries and cultures become routine practice, where foreign, “exotic” elements are introduced in everyday life. In this context, the innovative appeal of territories depends more on their innovative image, i.e., the ability of local communities and their leaders to appreciate and adopt innovations and create a unique and particular image of their territory in foreign markets. In this way, new foundations for the development and, particularly, re-development of territories are created, in which the socio-cultural developmental context takes a significant role.

In general, the environmental strategies and action plans of rural areas in market conditions and the context of globalization must represent a system of well-founded planning and organizational documents, which help local government to halt unfavorable trends and stimulate innovation and investment activities to the greatest possible extent, thus stabilizing local development.

Main approaches to the development of environmental strategies and action plans for rural territories in the framework of a socio-cultural methodology of environmental management were formulated and tested by our team in a number of districts of Yaroslavl and Nizhny Novgorod regions in 1995-2002. Based on the results, we outlined essential parameters of action plans for rational resource use in local entities, which are not included (fully or partially) in the national list of areas affected by environmental emergency, environmental disaster or environmental crisis64.


Largely determined by the chosen planning method [285]. As a rule, three document packages are envisaged: 1) action plan (summary); 2) feasibility study; 3) supporting documentation.

THE ACTION PLAN (SUMMARY) is a document defining local government policy on environmental management and conservation as well as a list of measures ensuring its implementation. It is structured in the form developed by the Russian Ministry of the Economy for such documents and contains the following sections:

  • summary, containing the date of adoption of the decision, name and number of the decree or law, customer, contractors, developer, deadlines, planned events and actions, expected outputs, amount and sources of financing, and follow-up monitoring;
  • explanatory note substantiating the expediency of the plan and its implementation, comments on the composition and contents of the document;
  • implementation schedule and sources of financing. This section stipulates the sources of financing (budgets at different administrative levels, environmental funds, other sources, including commercial sources), amounts and their breakdown by years;
  • key milestones and actions. A list of planned events and actions accompanied by amounts of financing from different sources;
  • expected outcomes;
  • implementation mechanism, organizational support and follow-up monitoring;
  • coordination with other program documents developed and implemented in the rural territory.

THE FEASIBILITY STUDY contains the rationale of the action plan, substantiating and explanatory materials, and the results of studies carried out. Attention must be paid to the following aspects.

Goals and how they are to be achieved.It is necessary to define the most critical environmental issues, which require immediate solution, and on this basis to formulate priority goals for environmental policy. The actions to achieve those goals are prioritized by choosing between available options.

Methods (tools) of environmental regulation. When working on the action plan of a rural territorial entity, a comprehensive approach must be applied to the environmental management methods (tools) which are to be used to achieve priority goals . Special attention should be paid to coordinating use of unified environmental institutions, applied at national level, with socio-culturally determined formal and informal institutions inherent to the specific territory. It is desirable to identify existing and potential conflicts in the sphere of resource use and try to forecast their change in the course of implementation of the action plan. The action plan can also include investment proposals that stimulate rational resource use, which would be institutionally supported by local and regional authorities.

The efficiency appraisalis a multi-factor assessment of the action plan of the rural territorial entity. It should be performed using the following criteria:

  • correspondence of the goals of the action plan to the actual socio-political conditions and features of natural resource potential of the district;
  • flexibility of the implementation process (its adaptability to changing external conditions, to changes in environmental management, nature conservation policy, technologies, etc.);
  • cost efficiency of design and implementation of the action plan;
  • capacity for providing information to respective organizations;
  • capacity for attracting external and internal investments in rational resource use and environment protection (primarily the investment proposals set out in the program);
  • fairness of distribution of the environmental costs and consequences of the decisions made;
  • acceptability of the work done for the general public, economic agents, local government and territorial organizations.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION contains basic data on the natural resource potential of the territory and man-made impact on its environment. It also provides socio-economic estimates of natural resources, goods and eco-system services (including humanized estimates of their monetary value), estimates of the development sustainability and depletion rate of the most economically significant natural resources, as well as study of environmental management traditions in the territory.

Information provision for the district action plan is based on both formal and informal sources of information. For example, socio-economic estimates of environmental capital and humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services use formalized information, such as recorded data of the economic value of natural resources and services and costs incurred. This information can be found in data issued by the tax services, technical inventory agencies, etc., data on the rates of resource use and consumption, service provision, costs of such services, auction information, etc. Other information from various sources must also be obtained, primarily regarding the willingness of people to pay for specific services and goods, costs of preventive action, etc. The methods to be used include surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, interviews, and the analysis of documents and mass media.

Environmental management by objectives at the level of a constituent entity (administrative region) of the Russian Federation

Environmental management by objectives at the level of Russian regions is enriched with new content in the age of globalization and post-industrial trends. The swift development of vertically integrated national and transnational companies and corporations, the concentration of financial capital in mega-cities and its increasing mobility tend to reduce the dependence of business on regional governments. The role of the latter in regulating economic activities is decreasing due to the prevalence of “pinpoint” investment practice by private investors, who choose specific assets for investment instead of the making “package” investments, which were usual in the industrial era and under the centralized planned economy. This development is also promoted by the growing polarization of the country’s economic space, unevenness of development in different territories, and their irregular economic and social progress.

Two opposite viewpoints must therefore be considered in order to understand the prospects for environmental management at the level of a Russian region, taking account of the potential for environmental crisis: either the industrial market economy is to be severely restricted and adjusted for the purposes of nature conservation [314], or environmental management is to be completely replaced by self-governing civil initiatives, which will design new principles of economic and social organization based on direct democracy and non-market, non-industrial production and consumption relations [37]. If the former approach is followed, environmental management will rely on increasingly stringent government regulation of economic activities. The state will have to create strict environmental restraints on manufacturing and assume complete responsibility for social control, effectively eliminating market relations. If such trends gain the upper hand in society, a totalitarian threat is bound to emerge (as discussed above). In the latter case, local communities are to be coordinated through a confederative system, which organizes and aligns different communities. According to M. Bukhchin [37], such a process might be organized around people’s assemblies, established at the district level to replace existing district governments. Such assemblies would be venues for discussing local issues and decision-making by all the citizens of the given community (if they wish to participate). The assemblies would be transparent and completely open to any public supervision. The supervisory and regulatory role of the state would be minimized, so this scenario might be viewed as a social development in the spirit of eco-anarchism.

While appealing in theory, such a proposal could only be realized if communities are permeated by ideas of social justice and group solidarity. However, such communities can also be anti-humane and anti-ecological. For instance, a “community of communities”, dominated by group egoism, quickly turns into a community of cliques, of clannish and mafia-type organizations. However closely people are linked in a single community, there should always be superior values prevailing over the values of separate communities and common to them all. Such union based on common economic, social and cultural projects is productive from the point of view of sustainable development and environmental safety.

The details of such a network organization of local communities and the significance of ethical norms for its stability have been explored in depth by A. Etzioni [315, p. 309-334] who considers any territorial community as a “community of communities”, where different communities retain their religious, consumer and cultural peculiarities, are fully aware of their socio-cultural features and are proud of them. When a society in transition experiences instability, the communities (both formal and informal), i.e., civil organizations, local groups, etc., see their main goal as survival and the goal of survival dictates their assessment of any territorial environmental policy and their participation in its implementation. Such is the basis on which each community defines it status and place in the territorial structure of all communities, which regulate access to development resources. Relatively strict territorial structure of such interrelations and the formation of territorial corporations are most typical of traditional societies. Communities are integral parts of the whole. However, they face transaction costs in the process of their interactions, which reduce the efficiency of their environmental institutions. To minimize such transaction costs is the main task of government at regional level in the post-industrial context.

From the standpoint of socio-cultural methodology of environmental management of any Russian region, therefore, it is not only necessary to ensure compliance with unified national legislation and centralized funding of the most important regional conservation efforts, but also (equally importantly) to ensure coordination of the environmental activities of local communities. This concerns the development of environmental strategies and action plans for towns and rural territories. Moreover, when implementing institutional changes in the environmental sphere one must remember that lack of attention to the level of local self-government and attempts to replace it by distributing and controlling functions at the level of the region (or at an even higher level) will make transition to the post-industrial development stage more difficult. Attempts to solve environmental issues by such methods strengthen the power of the bureaucracy, opening the way to totalitarian rule or, in certain conditions, even the ultra-right concept of eco-fascism.

Environmental strategies and action plans at the level of Russian regions must include coordination and support for respective plans of local territories. So the key element of a regional action plan is a set of coordinating mechanisms for the design and efficient implementation of environmental programs at district level. Such an approach enables efficient institutional changes based on the import of unified environmental institutions (initiated, as a rule, at federal level) in the specific socio-cultural context of local territories. Our experience of regional work helped us to formulate essential features of the interaction between regional and district environmental programs and general vectors of their respective activities.


These basic elements are: agreement (mutual alignment) of the goals and priorities of the various levels of territorial organization; coordination between environmental institutions; organizational interaction; and monitoring and assessment of the efficiency of the design and implementation of environmental action plans.

AGREEMENT (MUTUAL ALIGNMENT) OF THE GOALS AND PRIORITIES OF VARIOUS LEVELS OF TERRITORIAL ORGANIZATION. The main challenge in the development and implementation of environmental strategies and action plans is the alignment of goals and priorities at different levels of territorial organization.

This is explained by the differences between environmental goals at global, national, interregional, regional and local levels as well as the development goals of industries, specific resource users, etc.

Mutual alignment of the goals and priorities of environmental activities should start by defining priority environmental goals at different levels of territorial organization, concurrently “bottom up” and “top down” (see section 4.1.3). The study made by our team shows that it is particularly important to identify the territorial specifics of sustainability goals as perceived by leading resource managers at different levels of the territorial organization, on whose decisions the achievement of environmental goals and priorities depends. Any emerging or potential conflicts between environmental goals have to be identified and solutions proposed. This is not only a matter of determining the environmental constraints on economic activities (as a particular kind of external constraints) but also of exploring the perceptions of the people who live in specific territories as to their future and the moral and cultural values, which impact development priorities. Such an approach is the only way of achieving compromise on environmental goals and priorities that will be acceptable to different communities.

Environmental budgeting, which helps to work out compromise solutions in order to align environmental priorities at different levels of territorial organization, is an efficient method for coordinating environmental work (see Chapter 4). Environmental budgeting can be used to reach a political decision either to divide environmental priorities among different territories or to adopt an integrated strategy using common indicators.

COORDINATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL INSTITUTIONS. The objective basis for the design and implementation of any action plan consists of systematically used environmental institutions. The purpose of the action plan is efficient implanting of unified institutions in the existing territorial institutional matrixes, including measures that would smooth conflicts that may arise or be exacerbated in this process (which, in turn, presupposes the use of a special group of institutions). Our study shows that the best formal environmental institutions to use for such coordination are the following.

Administrative:environmental standard-setting and monitoring; impact assessment standards (maximum allowable emissions, maximum allowable discharges); standards for the quality of environment components (maximum allowable concentration); technological standards; product quality standards (ISO 9000); environmental management quality standards (ISO 14000); permits for emission (discharge) of pollutants, waste disposal; licensing; environment impact assessment procedure and environmental expert examination.

Economic:charges and environmental taxes for pollution; charges for the use of natural resources; preferential lending; preferential taxation; subsidies; special pricing of green products (eco-labels); liability for environmental violations; special-purpose reserve funds (guarantee sums) for waste recycling; environmental insurance; information systems (advertising).

Socio-cultural:identification of the socio-cultural core of territorial development; use of environmental symbols and mythological images; mechanisms for coordinating the environmental goals of different communities; collective decision-making tools; mechanisms for balancing of powers in the environmental sphere; methods for the regulation and prevention of ethnic conflicts in the environmental sphere; methods for aligning the interests of individuals and local communities by stimulating territorial civil self-government.

Special attention should be paid to the assessment and use of informal environmental institutions that have taken shape in the territory. Capacity for their efficient use in environmental management by objectives depends on the general level of social participation in local government and development of civil society institutions (Chapter 2). This is the most difficult task and, when designing environmental documents at the level of a Russian region, the principal focus should be on supporting the sustainability of territorial environmental matrixes by means of special socio-cultural tools rather than on the importation of unified environmental institutions, which, as a rule, are initiated at the federal level.

ORGANIZATIONAL COOPERATION. Optimization of structural and functional interaction between environmental organizations at local and regional levels must focus on the most efficient use of formal and informal environmental institutions and on preventing institutional and organizational conflicts. The essential criteria for efficiency of territorial systems of environmental management as part of a management-by-objectives approach are commitment to environmental priorities at regional and local levels and maintenance of the integrity of the environmental management system.

Commitment to environmental priorities at regional and local levels of territorial organization is very important because patterns of structural and functional interaction between environmental organizations must be worked out in each specific territory in accordance with established environmental goals. For this purpose, environmental goals and priorities must be institutionalized to lend them legal status, so that environmental management by objectives can be properly organized and environmental organizations can implement the action plans designed at regional and local levels as efficiently as possible. This approach helps to choose the most rational management structure in order to achieve the maximum effect with limited resources.

Maintenance of the integrity of an environmental management system ensures the efficiency of environmental regulation. The composition and character of the system’s components and the forms and specifics of their functional interaction are determined by established priorities. The links between the components must work smoothly and correspond to the established goals and the geographical features of the territory. Any distortion of the proportions results leads to the change of individual components and even of the entire system. For example, removal of one of the industry sections from the existing territorial environmental system or assignment of staff composition and numbers without due account for priorities will impair the efficiency of the system: The functions of the removed (or understaffed) section will have to be redistributed among the remainder, which will change their specialization, composition, size and a number of other parameters.

Despite the similar functions of environmental organizations, it is impossible to provide a ready-made recipe for their organizational structure and mode of operation at local level and hence to design a single template for the work of environmental organizations at the level of a Russian region. The geographical conditions of each concrete territory are determined by numerous factors and are often widely different.

The design of territorial systems for environmental management requires special research and analysis regarding geographical features of a territory. This work must include consideration of natural and economic conditions, type of environmental management, ownership structure, available information about the territory, the degree of environmental, social and economic tension in the territory, and environmental traditions associated with socio-cultural specifics [259, p. 182; 261, p. 73-86]. These factors largely determine the direction of environmental work and the range of possible decisions. It is also important to take account of issues related to national culture and religious traditions.

MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT OF EFFICACY IN THE DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF REGIONAL AND LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION PLANS. Continuous monitoring based on uniform principles and criteria and assessment of the design and implementation of planning documents are very important in order to ensure proper feedback at each stage of the work. Monitoring analysis and assessment using appropriate indicators assist understanding of the problems, increase decision making efficiency and hence constitute an essential component of program design and implementation. They become an integral part of formulating and adjusting regional environmental policy. The monitoring should have an end-to-end character, i.e., provide comparable information obtained according to commensurate criteria for performance evaluation.

It is crucially important that efforts for coordination at regional level are not focused on a narrow understanding of environmental work, but are correlated with broader activities for the design and implementation of the regional and local sustainable development strategy. So monitoring should be oriented to the sustainable development indicators, which are to be included in environmental strategies and used as components of the environmental budget (Chapter 3). The indicators serve as a basis for environmental management by objectives and in this respect cease to play a merely indicative role, instead becoming an active institution of innovative policy, particularly if they have been legitimized by the procedures of environmental territorial budgeting. They are functionally oriented to environmental priorities and differ between countries, regions and even local territories. The indicators can vary depending on needs at a particular stage of the “life cycle” of the environmental or economic policy (environmental problem identification, response formulation, implementation and monitoring of the policy and follow-up monitoring). The indicators should be judged on the basis of their relevance to users, applicability to management work, and their analytical and scientific definition and measurability.

Regional and local marketing as an element of environmental management by objectives

Management by objectives is closely connected with regional and local marketing, which is a system of measures to attract new economic agents to a territory in order to promote its prosperity. What is marketed may be land, housing, industrial development areas, investments, tourism or environmental marketing of the region, city or locality. Environmental marketing is important in order to define the environmental appeal of a specific territory, since this will determine the willingness of people to live there and link their future and the future of their children with the place.

The concept of “environmental marketing” is close to that of “product marketing”, but differs from the latter by its orientation to preserving and augmenting the natural capital of the territory (including its environmental component). Such capital is calculated on the basis of socio-cultural characteristics (see the description of “humanized estimates of the monetary value of environmental goods and eco-system services” in Section 3.2). Environmental marketing is a tool for channeling innovation for purposes of sustainable growth, which uses the environmental specifics of a territory to achieve its positive positioning. The product of environmental marketing is not the territory itself but the opportunities it offers for economically efficient and non-depleting use of natural capital (as a sum total of the environmental goods and eco-system services). An entrepreneur, who plans to invest in the territory, looks at its features from various points of view, including that of the environment, and assesses its competitiveness. The key parameters to be considered are quality of life and environmental well-being, since they show to the potential investor how the local population live and how newcomers are likely to fare, taking account of difference in lifestyles and needs (from ordinary workers to top managers). This generates additional motivation for local government to pursue an efficient environmental policy.

Environmental marketing of local territories is an integral part of the innovative marketing of regions and is oriented to long-term sustainable development (Fig. 5.1). Our research in Russian regions led us to formulate some basic goals of environmental territorial marketing: to preserve/increase the region’s sustainability capital, particularly, its natural capital; to promote identification of residents with their habitat, including the natural environment; to attract innovations for rational use and protection of natural resources and sites; and to encourage businesses to back economically efficient and non-depleting use of the natural sites and resources in the territory.

Achievement of these goals depends on increasing the socio-cultural appeal of the territory and projecting images of the territory as environmentally efficient (e.g., unpolluted landscapes, good water and air quality, unique natural and cultural sites, etc.). So environmental territorial marketing is not limited to objective information about environmental wealth and general condition, but involves the creation of certain ideal images that either increase or decrease the innovative appeal of the territory. In this respect identification of the environmental and cultural heritage of each region is in itself a branch of innovation policy.

Regional marketing levels
Fig. 5.1. Regional marketing levels
Source: [401, р. 35]

The development of regional and local marketing, including environmental marketing, has shown that the innovative appeal of territories can be significantly improved by means of special strategies that address their socio-cultural features, emphasizing their unique qualities. Main attention should be paid to the images of the territory, e.g., Lapland as the home of Santa Claus, Kronborg in Denmark as Hamlet’s castle (not in fact the case), etc. The Eiffel Tower is regarded as the symbol of Paris and its use adds a special economic value to French goods. Such strategies are viewed in the market as real products with their own economic value.

Environmental territorial marketing is particularly important for strategies that aim to attract investments in places that have special cultural attractions. In these cases, sentiments and reality converge and create a “poetic space”, which is fundamentally subjective, but has a certain objective basis. If there are no such “poetic” places in the given region, it is possible and worthwhile to create them, since they can ensure that a territory will be attractive to people and, therefore, draw investments. The possibility of such creation is based on the fact that “poetic” places have, as a rule, some aesthetic component: they are created by somebody and are positioned as desired. Positioning in this context is not a slogan, such as “We are an economically strong territory with a well balanced environment and high level of culture”, nor is it a straightforward focus on overcoming weaknesses in regional development. Positioning is making best use of strengths, and not only of past strengths, but also (and particularly) future strengths that build on past achievements, “Poetic places” usually tell stories. The French philosopher Marc Augé (cited by G. Ipsen [393]) distinguishes “places and “non-places” (depending on whether they tell stories). Places must tell a story. However, if we only hear old stories, we may well think that development has come to a halt. What are needed are “old – new” stories, about what used to be, what is now and what carries on into the future.

The creation of “poetic places”, with humanism and environmental content, is a critical element of environmental territorial strategies and programs. This is explained by changes in the concept of “place”. Up to the 1980s this concept did not play any significant role in the theory of sustainable development: there were no places, only spaces. A space was characterized by qualitative and quantitative parameters; it contained inhabited places. Both in Russia and abroad, special programs were developed of how to “make our village look more beautiful” (to “embellish” it). This did not mean that the settlement had to acquire its own image. The task, rather, was to decorate the streets, make pavements clean, lay out flower beds and hide ugly production facilities behind beautiful facades. Territorial planning at that time was mainly infrastructure planning. It did not include the innovative mobilization of the region. It was only in the early 1990s that governments began to grasp that, for people to want to live and plan their future in a specific place, that place must have a special, unique image. Environmental territorial marketing builds a certain image, a concept of the territory, and the “poetic place” becomes well-known: the Niagara Falls in the US, Norway’s fjords or Valaam island in Russia. Poetic places create focal points, centers that unite people; they help to give an identity to local people.

Environmental territorial marketing facilitates the internal and external mobilization of a region and is thereby an integral part of the concept of an innovative region, which is oriented to development in the context of economic globalization. Innovative regions are those which are engaged in environmental and social innovation, creating cultural products for themselves and for others, committing themselves to conservation activities, i.e., not limited to economic activities alone. “Poetic places” promote the business potential of territories because they help to improve the quality of life, make positive contributions to people’s self-identification, increase the density (frequency) of communication and improve the opportunities for self-presentation (by presenting oneself on behalf of a certain place, with a certain reputation, one can more easily make contact with other people or organizations). “Poetic places” often confer their name to the whole of the territory where they are situated.

Specific measures for regional and local marketing include the publication and dissemination of printed and electronic materials about the region or city; visits by heads of territorial administration, meetings with the CEOs of companies and organizations that are willing to open or support new businesses in the region; cooperation with international and national environmental organizations, etc. So regional and local marketing is an efficient instrument for providing sustainable growth.

Local government is the main but not the only participant in promoting a territory on the investment market. Local leaders engaged in attracting business must know what they and their community can offer; they must be able to present their region, town or settlement as a competitive place, easy to visit, hospitable and friendly. For regional and local environmental marketing to succeed, there has to be mutual understanding and agreement between the regional and local government, between the legislative and executive branches of local government, and between the government and various social groups, business leaders and civil organizations. Forging genuine partnerships is a task for all parties, which are interested in the creation of a sustainable and environmentally safe region.

So environmental territorial marketing is an active component of environmental management by objectives because it aims to attract innovations in the environmental sector, enhance identification of local residents with their territory (including its natural environment), and encourage businesses to commit to rational use of the territory’s natural sites and resources. It assumes the creation of a certain ideal image of the territory, and is less concerned with hard facts and objective characteristics.

Shifting the accent in environmental management to the use of unified environmental institutions (on an international model) in various regions, reinforcement of environmental work at local level and the reduction of transaction costs in the import of environmental institutions to the different socio-cultural conditions of regions and localities – all of these require substantial correction of the fundamental principles of environmental strategies and action plans. Environmental management in the new conditions must include active environmental marketing of regions, cities and territories. Environmental marketing helps to increase the investment appeal of the conservation sector and make territories more exciting and valuable for people.


The present context of globalization and post-industrialism makes it impossible to create an efficient system of environmental management in any country unless that system is humanized. Russia is no exception to this rule. The future will be generated from concurrent movements, “top down” and “bottom up”. Nothing but failure can be expected from ignoring the behavioral specifics of people, considering them as passive objects of environmental management, from repressive measures on the part of government or a number of selected “experts” with special knowledge, and from disrespect towards socio-cultural environmental traditions.

Environmental management cannot be designed without an understanding of main national and international development trends, without at least a general grasp of the probable future scenarios, to which global economic and social processes and current reforms are leading. These questions concern the supreme values and goals, in the context of which people’s conservation efforts acquire social significance. Unfortunately, in the course of the 20th century Russia lost the fundamental motivation for environmental activity, which depends on cultural and social constraints on human behavior. Today, we are witnessing a gradual loss of spiritual values, and their substitution by the goal of material success at any price, and the prestige of professions related to intellectual and spiritual work is declining. Government support for science, culture and education, i.e., the spheres of national life without which positive institutional changes in environmental management are impossible, is in decline.

Uncertainty about the future and the impoverishment of a large part of the population (particularly in rural areas) are creating a breeding ground for social tension and intensifying conflicts over environmental goods and eco-system services. The struggle for shared natural resources is becoming more fierce, forcing many specially protected areas, environmental and cultural heritage sites, recreation areas and valuable bio-resources (forest, fisheries and wildlife, etc.) to the brink of extinction. The growth of marginalized social groups, which can be observed today, increases the risk of man-made environmental disasters.

The uncertainty of most Russians about the goals of the current reforms and vagueness over national values led to inconsistency and even multi-directionality of institutional change in the environmental sphere during the 1990s. At the start of the decade the old mechanisms of the Soviet era, which had been relatively efficient in the planned economy, were dismantled. The ruling elite had a poor understanding of the challenges facing Russia, which needed to overcome a severe macroeconomic crisis and post-communist syndrome, and (an even more daunting task) to find adequate answers to the challenges of the post-industrial society, as well as digesting privatization on a scale unprecedented in the world without the support of proper economic reforms. As a result, environmental tools for sustainable development were not properly implemented in Russia or were severely distorted.

This context suggests three main development scenarios for Russia, each implying different systems of environmental management.

THE FIRST SCENARIO is to be expected if the main trends of the 1990s are pursued further, so it is an “inertial” scenario. It would involve the continuation of the “contribute-distribute” economy and inefficient government, which is incapable of meeting the challenges of the global economy because it is not interested in the establishment of genuine civil society. The scenario threatens gradual loss of the country’s intellectual and cultural potential, and its reduction to a source of raw materials for the developed economies. Economically, it would mean stagnation, shrinkage in the diversity of national, knowledge-based industries, disproportionate development of the fuel and energy and raw material complexes, capital flight, growing foreign debt (particularly if raw material prices on export markets develop unfavorably), and the impossibility of effective military and utility-sector reforms. In the political and social spheres, such a scenario would be associated with further income polarization, growth of unemployment and low-wages, and the absence of a middle class. In the ideological sphere we can expect growth of extreme nationalism, on the one hand, and the loss of national dignity and emergence of a national inferiority complex, on the other hand.

Such an inertial scenario has highly negative consequences for environmental management. Since the main social groups in charge of environmental management will be big business and bureaucracy, environmental regulation is likely to be minimized. The features of the “contribute-distribute” economy will be much in evidence, where officials grant individual permits and corporations agree to certain one-off expenses in order to solve their “environmental problems”. Protection of the environmental interests of the general public, especially the underprivileged, would receive scant attention. International obligations would exert some pressure on government to enforce environmental control, but there would be strong pressure to minimize such obligations, so the whole environmental management sector will be increasingly bureaucratized, particularly with respect to foreign relations.

Dominance of “contribute-distribute” relations and strict control functions of state environmental organizations together with underdevelopment of market mechanisms will lead to shrinking demand for innovations in the environment sphere, due to the lack of a proper market for environmental goods and services and extremely low budgetary support for science and technology. The only exception will be process innovation financed by companies from their own pockets and aimed at cutting energy consumption and reducing production costs. The ageing of fixed assets increases the risk of man-made disasters. At the same time the widening income gap between different strata of society will exacerbate destructive behavior and speed up the destruction of shared natural resources.

Such a gloomy scenario cannot be ruled out: by the late 1990s Russia had entered a period of low-level, economically and socially inefficient, institutional equilibrium. It can only be overcome through serious political will on the part of existing power elites, the presence of which seems questionable at present.

THE SECOND SCENARIO would be to mobilize the economy for industrial developmental by reinforcing the “contribute-distribute” institutional matrix (with slight modernization). The aim would be ensure economic growth, re-equipment of the armed forces and high standards of living by strengthening the totalitarian elements in Russian social life and to improve the innovative climate by suppressing, destructive behavior in society through strengthening of the “contribute-distribute” and controlling functions of the state. The driver of economic growth would have to be natural resources, i.e. natural resource rent, while environmental expenditures will be minimized. Concentration of funds in state budgets and the largest resource-producing corporations will allow some package investments by the government and some private investments, mostly in export-oriented industries. In the social sphere income polarization will remain or even increase: groups related to resource-producing and export-oriented industries will be privileged and unemployment will remain high.

Environmental management in this scenario will be dominated by an “individual approach”, by standard and supervisory mechanisms, and “contribute-distribute” relations, including the expansion of licensing practice, development of a network of budget and industry-oriented environmental funds, etc. A case-by-case approach to environmental regulation of enterprises and industries will be retained, encouraging compromise between resource users and officials through formal or informal arrangements.

The environmental rights of the general public will be taken into account, but their interests will be secondary to the attainment of economic growth, even at the expense of the environment. Work at local level to protect the environment and support of local initiatives will not be priorities and may can even be suppressed as the strengthening of the “contribute-distribute” institutional matrix gives the dominant role to homo administrativus. In these conditions any environmental investments and innovations will remain insignificant and be concentrated in large corporations.

A large part of Russian society is favorable to the mobilization scenario based on strengthening of the “contribute-distribute” matrix with only slight modernization and without lending priority to the development of civil society. Autocratic mobilization of the population was the basic strategy of the “catch up” modernizations of Peter the Great and Stalinist industrialization in the 20th century. Now, however, when the developed economies have entered the post-industrial stage of development and determine the character of the latest stage of modernization, the efficacy of such autocratic approaches is in serious doubt.

Firstly, in all versions of this scenario Russia will tend to reproduce the economic and social trends of the West in the second half of the 20th century by simply repeating them in the 21st century, while other countries will follow a different development strategy, laying the foundations of a post-industrial civilization. In this case Russia risks losing its influence on global processes an being left in the second or third tier of global development. Secondly, unbalanced growth characterized by loss of natural and human capital will lead, even in the medium term, to stagnation and ultimately to polarization of the economic space and escalation of regional development crises. Depletion (quantitative and qualitative) of natural resources, where local territories lose the natural assets that are critical for their development (loss of revenue from sub-soil resources and timber, decline of fisheries due to water pollution, etc.) is a particularly dangerous threat. Thirdly, the resource base for such mobilization-based reform is unclear. Mobilization of a “labor army” or plundering of the peasantry are not options today as they were in the past. The basis of economic growth in transition to post-industrial development has to be human and social capital. Educated people use all forms of capital more efficiently, enabling the sustainable development of countries and nations.

So a mobilization scenario, oriented to the preservation and reinforcement of the industrial economic model and the homo administrativus behavior model, cannot ensure efficient modernization of Russian society in the modern world. Nor can environmental management be efficient in such a scenario. Unbalanced growth will cause uneven development of regions, escalating the risks of man-made disasters, particularly in depressive and underdeveloped territories. Crises related to depletion of basic economic and socially significant resources will multiply, which is especially dangerous in periods of unfavorable global prices for natural resources. These problems can only be solved by de-centralization and regionalization of the numerous functions of environmental management, support to local conservation initiatives, and greater coordination of environmental work by people and local communities.

THE THIRD SCENARIO involves stimulation of post-industrial trends in the development of Russian society. Perceptions of the main features of such a society are vague, but most experts believe that the chief factor of sustainable development in the post-industrial stage is human potential. Without the central role of people and their knowledge, without the ability of people to solve the problems of collective development together, rapid growth rates in the service sector and the development of high technologies and software are not possible. Technological advances, particularly in the sphere of information technologies, are nurturing new economic structures, which are more flexible and capable of accumulating resources (e.g., virtual organizations). Vertical management structures are gradually supplemented and then replaced by horizontal mechanisms of coordination. Development and distribution of resource-efficient, environmentally safe technologies offer a new type of interaction between society and nature, reducing the man-made load on the environment and integrating conservation requirements with economic mechanisms. The strengthening of social capital and business ethics, and the ability of local communities to develop their territories at minimal cost have emerged as crucial factors.

A key role is played by the encouragement and commercialization of R&D work, as long-term sustainable growth rates can only be ensured through investments in R&D work.

The post-industrial society offers real opportunities for reducing economic polarization of regions, since widespread use of high technologies reduces dependence of regional economic development on natural and climatic conditions and access to transportation, instead emphasizing the innovative appeal of places. The cultural and environmental appeal of territories and settlements becomes the major factor in attracting innovations and investments.

Strategy for the reform of environmental management today and in the future needs to be oriented to such a scenario, which is both most favorable for the creation of a post-industrial society but, at the same time, the most difficult to implement. The difficulties are associated with the fact that, for the first time in its history, Russia’s modernization today requires profound transformation of the very roots of the existing institutional matrix, changing its “contribute-distribute” essence. Such reforms cannot be carried out within short timeframes by means of orders from above, as they must embrace both formal and numerous informal institutions. Nevertheless, there is no alternative to the reform of our society towards the post-industrial age. This is the only way to retain the integrity of the country and guarantee a decent life for Russia’s people. Rapid reformation of Russian society may not be possible, but we should assess the efficiency of all institutional changes in the environmental sphere by the yardstick of their correspondence to the post-industrial goal.

As shown by the experience of developed economies, transition to post-industrial development is associated with a host of problems generated by profound changes in the economy and society. Social conflicts are exacerbated by increased unevenness of the economic space: on the one hand, new growth territories appear, on the other, poverty expands in many places that were previously quite prosperous. This generates new demands for the theorization of environmental regulation and design of respective methods of environmental management.

Our studies were focused on the search for efficient answers to the challenges of globalization in the context of post-industrial trends. The results enabled us to formulate the basics of a new socio-cultural methodology of environmental management, which places particular accent on stimulating the environmental motivation of people and communities in order reduce the gap between public and private interests in rational resource use and environmental protection. Compliance with environmental constraints and regulations is achieved through increased attention to the behavioral preferences of individuals, territorial optimization of environmental institutions (both unified and socio-culturally determined) and reduction of the economic and social costs of tackling environmental issues.

Socio-cultural methodology has helped to define the vectors for improvement of environmental management in the context of reforms for Russia’s gradual transition to the post-industrial development stage. The need to change views of the role and significance of socio-cultural features of territories by humanizing their analysis and assessment has been theoretically validated. Institutionally, this implies emphasis, in the development of territories, on what is particular and socio-culturally determined, and which influences environmental priorities and institutions.

The resulting concepts and approaches to environmental management are based on the proposed model of homo responsabilis, which draws on the theories of neo-institutionalism and socio-economics along with the “responsibility imperative” dictated by understanding of the potential threat of environmental catastrophe. This model, combining economic and non-economic behavioral aspects, makes it possible to explore the motivation of environmental work by individuals and local communities and to take account of the interests of both the present and future generations. It is an efficient tool for the institutional analysis of environmental work.

Application of the socio-cultural methodology of environmental management has defined new ways of mitigating the intensity of conflicts, which arise in the importation of environmental institutions to territories with different socio-cultural conditions. This is particularly important in today’s Russia, which has seen extensive importation of unified environmental institutions from developed economies. The efficiency of such importation, which is always specific to each territory, has to be assessed. A special set of methods of instrumental regulation has been proposed for direct management of conflicts that arise in the use of imported environmental institutions in different socio-cultural conditions.

Overall, increased efficiency of environmental management in the framework of a socio-cultural methodology must be based on orientation to the interests of people and to making their life better by reducing or preventing environmental poverty. So environmental management has to be understood as political management, which promotes changes that lead to improvement of the lives of present and future generations. Political leaders and managers must clearly formulate their political aims, their approach to the choice of tools of environmental politics, and the possible consequences of the actions, which they propose for social development and ethical accord. Only once environmental goals are understood and perceived by people as their own, and the means of achieving these goals are collectively defined and consistently pursued, will environmental management lead to the decisive changes that are needed for sustainable development.


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