Written by Clare Angeroth-Franks, MA student in the Russian & East European Institute
An environmental journalist from St. Petersburg with broad expertise, including on Siberia, Angelina Davydova is based at UC Davis as a Humphrey Fellow this year. She has more than 10 years of professional experience of working with Russian and international media. Among other honors, she has been Head of the German-Russian Office of Environmental Information since 2006. Since 2008 she has been an observer of the UN Climate negotiation process (UNFCCC). Davydova currently teaches in the Department of Journalism at St. Petersburg State University . Davydova’s work is regularly in Russian and international media (including the Thomson Reuters Foundation, The Conversation, Open Democracy, and Science Magazine). She is also curator of a two-year media training program “Water stories“ in Central Asian countries, dedicated to water issues.
Environmental issues, civil society and governmental policies all came together in a talk on Friday, February 15, 2019 by Russian journalist Angelina Davydova. Divided into three subjects, her lecture touched on the environmental challenges faced by Russia today and how people and politics are responding to those challenges and one another.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, environmental issues were not at the forefront of civic discussion. However, following the economic downturn in the 1990s, less industrial activity led to ecological improvements. Civic and governmental institutions noticed these changes, which facilitated more discussion on the human impacts on the environment. Today, the majority of ecological concerns in Russia come from consumption issues such as waste and vehicle emissions.
Russia is the 5th largest greenhouse gas emitter after China, the United States, the European Union and India. While Russia has yet to ratify the Paris agreement, it may do so this year. Impacts of climate change are more salient in regions of southern Siberia and the Far East, where wildfires and melting ice are becoming all too frequent. In more urban, European areas, Russians cite water, air, and waste as the largest environmental challenges. Indeed, the problem of waste management was one of the focuses of Davydova’s presentation. The journalist stated, among other facts, that 90% of Russia’s waste is going to landfills. Waste management was an issue that touched many lives in Russia and is one of the issues the Russian government is aiming to solve.
The government’s inadequate response to such environmental problems have led many Russians to activism. Davydova spoke about several grassroots campaigns which emphasize their apolitical and local nature. While some groups have achieved more success than others, Davydova mentioned some of the common factors of these groups and categorized them by the groups’ project type. Her examples came from all around Russia, showing the diversity of civic engagement on environmental issues in Russia.
Following her presentation, students, staff, and faculty posed questions to Davydova. Davydova’s lecture was streamed live on the Russian and East European Institute’s Facebook page, receiving over 90 views. It has since been viewed over 800 times. A video of the presentation was also archived and is accessible on the Russian and East European Institute’s youtube channel here.