Joint Statement of Implementation of the United States-Russian Special Environmental Initiative, Moscow, 1996
Done at Moscow 16 July 1996
Primary source citation: Copy of text provided by the U.S. Department of State
During the Seventh Session of the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation held July 15-16, 1996 in Moscow, the Vice President of the United States of America and the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation received reports by the Administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, Cochairmen of the joint Environmental Working Group.
The Environmental Working Group was established in June, 1995 to examine approaches of the two countries to the uses for environmental purposes of information obtained by space-based, air-borne, sea-based, and in situ data collection systems and contained in national security data acquisition systems.
The Environmental Working Group Cochairmen presented an Arctic Winter Period Oceanographic Atlas containing scientifically important hydrographic data sets which validate Arctic Ocean circulation models and improve understanding of Arctic climatology and the global carbon cycle at high latitudes. The Vice President of the United States of America and the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation evaluated positively the continuation of work in this area and approved the Environmental Working Group’s plans to produce three digital atlases that combine U.S. and Russian data for Arctic oceanography, meteorology, and sea ice. These plans entail sharing previously unreleased archived data sets collected over the past 30 years.
In the area of environmental disaster monitoring and assessment, the Environmental Working Group Cochairmen reported on a joint study on the environmental consequences of the May, 1995 Neftegorsk earthquake which incorporated civil and national security information.
The Commission Cochairmen approved the Environmental Working Group’s conclusions that combining information from national security data systems with civil data, without jeopardizing the national security of either country, can substantially improve monitoring and quick assessment of environmental disasters. They considered it reasonable to select and implement other projects which could include studying and assessing the effects of volcanoes in the Kamchatka/Alaska area and pollution effects in coastal areas of both countries.
In order to enhance the level of cooperation during implementation of joint projects, the Environmental Working Group has begun work on a communications link between Washington and Moscow.
The Vice President of the United States of America and the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation noted with approval that the first stage of a communications capability, based on the Internet, is already in operation. They endorsed the Environmental Working Group’s plans to begin implementation of the next stage which will involve creating a high-speed link between NOAA and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources.
The Vice President of the United States of America and the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation also expressed satisfaction with the Environmental Working Group’s plans for two new initiatives involving energy resource development and forestry.
The first initiative will formulate an oil and gas environmental risk assessment methodology, based on a Geographic Information System (GIS) model employing civil and national security data inputs from each country, for the Priob’ region of western Siberia. This methodology could lead to more effective means of assessing and managing environmental risk of large oil/gas development projects. The Environmental Working Group reported it expects to conclude the first set of risk assessment methodology studies by the next session of the Commission meetings.
The joint forestry initiative, which will also use data from national security systems, has three scientific objectives: to evaluate the health of forest systems under potential stress from man-made effects; to analyze changes in the tundra-taiga boundary as an indication of the effects of long-term global temperature changes; and to gain insights into sustainable development of forestry resources. To achieve these ends, the study will select several small sites, along four longitudinal transects, one in the U.S. (Alaska) and three in Russia.
In conclusion, the Vice President and the Chairman expressed satisfaction with the progress made in the year since establishment of the Environmental Working Group. To underscore their mutual commitment to continued cooperation in the use of data from national security systems for environmental purposes, the Vice President and the Chairman directed the Cochairmen of the Environmental Working Group to develop a joint work program for 1997 for review at the next session of the US-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation.
Vice President of the Chairman of the Government
United States of America of the Russian Federation
Moscow, July 16, 1996