In the coming decades Russia will need to invest significantly in infrastructure to meet its development goals. The investment needed through to the 2040s is projected to exceed (US) $1.7 trillion, $762 billion more than projected on the basis of current trends. Given this context, Russia faces a choice: to ramp up investment in conventional infrastructure solutions or to embrace nature-based solutions that contribute ‘triple win’ long-term outcomes for people, the economy and the environment. This choice will be made against a backdrop of increasing public desire to restore and safeguard health ecosystems set against the limited priority given to environmental conservation within recent national budgets. Russia also faces a uniquely diverse range of climate risks (from permafrost melting and flooding to heat risks and desertification), as well as rising greenhouse gas emissions both from anthropogenic sources (with the fossil-fuel-based energy sector accounting for around 80%) and from ongoing methane emissions due to the loss of permafrost and peatlands. This is a timely opportunity to harness the public pressure to address environmental issues as an entry point to develop nature-based solutions that both support ecosystem health and help Russia to adapt to, and mitigate, climate risks.
These challenges and opportunities provide the backdrop to the REACT programme (funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office). The first stage of this programme has been to share learnings around nature-based solutions between the UK and Russia. From these discussions have emerged a set of priority recommendations for future collaboration, designed to help the UK and Russia accelerate and upscale on-the-ground implementation of these solutions.
Paul Sayers, Olena Borodyna, Beatrice Tanjangco and Alexandra Didcock