Russian Federation today does not have documents exclusively devoted to the implementation of the SDGs. According to the official position, most of the SDGs at the national level are implemented through state programmes for social and economic development, which include sub-programmes and departmental target programmes. There is also a lack of a coordinating state structure responsible for the SDG implementation. As a result there is no real discussion in the country about SDG implementation. The business sector is largely involved in working with the SDGs due to the demand to keep up with international requirements. Business is supporting NGOs working for the achievement of SDGs but does not want to get involved in advocacy activity. The biggest concern for civil society is still SDG 16, as corruption, freedom of speech, militarization of society, torture etc. are still a reality in Russia which holds back the whole country on implementation of all other goals.
Overview of Climate Change
The country has endorsed the Paris Agreement, legislative acts are being developed that should create the basis for climate policy and carbon regulation in the country. Climate change is becoming increasingly important both for the Russian economy and for the population. Representatives of Russian civil society are calling for a review of goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions taking more ambitious commitments for the period up to 2030 and until 2050, to adopt a law on carbon regulation, introduce a socially-oriented “carbon price”, implement real measures support for green sectors of the economy, develop realistic plans for the low-carbon transformation of the Russian economy, including full decarbonization by 2050. According to the public, it is also necessary to systematize and develop work in the field of adaptation to climate change, develop educational programs on climate change, support educational programs, and further education for specialists in various industries.
Civil Society Priorities
The state of civil society in Russia today can be called controversial and unstable. Public authorities exert excessive control over non-profit organizations hampering the activities of independent human rights and environmental organizations. Civil society is virtually deprived of the ability to monitor the state’s capacity to help it attain the SDGs and meet international commitments on various aspects of the Goals.
State bodies in Russia should review existing strategic documents for their compliance with the objectives and indicators of the SDG, and create a National Plan or Roadmap for achieving the SDG in the coming decade. It is essential to review the legal framework that impedes the path towards sustainable development. Follow-up VNRs should be developed with greater civil society participation.
Civil Society Engagement
Despite the assertion of the Russian Federation that civil society representatives were involved in the VNR process, the drafting was not widely announced and independent NGOs working on the SDG implementation were not involved. It was not possible to participate in working groups remotely. The consultations with civil society and call for proposals were not transparent and accessible. Civil society managed to produce a parallel report on SDG implementation and invited the government for an open discussion. Discussion was held at the end of June 2020 within the Analytical Center of Russian Government. However, invited of the invited governmental representatives, only three ministries were present at the meeting.
At the same time, the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs awareness among Russian civil society are very low. SDGs awareness raising is not supported by the state except for sporadic initiatives in this field organized by government-supported agencies. Nevertheless, some public organizations promote the 2030 Agenda and SDGs and disseminate information in Russian. In most cases, such activities are financed by international funds, and organizations engaged in this field have the status of “foreign agents”.