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St. Petersburg Mining University launches international forum on biodiversity and ecosystems conservation

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Its keynote was the idea that humanity must unite to minimise the impact of technology on nature.

The first day of the International Forum on Natural Resources Management and Conservation of Natural World Heritage, which was attended by delegations from 70 countries, concluded on Friday, 2 December in St. Petersburg.The event was organised in cooperation with the International Competence Centre in Mining Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO. The participants were greeted by Valentina Matvienko, Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov, St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov, Head of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov and Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov.

Vladimir Litvinenko, Rector of St. Petersburg Mining University and Chairman of the Board of the International Competence Centre for Mining Education under the auspices of UNESCO, opened the conference. He said it was encouraging that not only established engineers had gathered in the hall, but also young people who were just about to dedicate their lives to working with the subsoil.

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"The world is constantly changing and the mineral sector is certainly no exception. New technologies are emerging and there is a growing need for metals, for which the demand has been minimal until quite recently. But at the same time, more than half of the world's trade is still in raw materials and, above all, hydrocarbons. They will underpin the sustainable development of our civilisation until at least the middle of the century. Therefore, reducing the human impact on the environment by declaring a crusade against fossil fuels is only possible in words. If we want to achieve a real result, it is necessary to introduce innovations at energy facilities, which will promote reduction of emissions, reclaim land and increase the volume of industrial waste recycled", stressed Vladimir Litvinenko.

He also said it is necessary to increase the number of engineers in the developing countries and to work on developing their competencies throughout their lives. After all, in order to monetize inert natural capital, and to do so with minimal damage to ecosystems, you need specialists who understand natural resource management, transport and the whole chain of resource processing up to the production of final consumption goods.

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"Today the post-industrial powers have no more than 800 million people, just 10% of the world's population. But it is they who get the bulk of the rent from using the resource base of the developing nations through its involvement in downstream processing. The rest, in fact, work for the beneficiaries, supplying them with minerals and receiving no more than 20% of the surplus value. That is theoretically the countries rich in minerals should be 8-12 times richer than the same Europe, but in practice it is exactly the opposite," the rector said.

For a more equitable distribution of income, in his opinion, it is necessary to rely on local engineering personnel, strengthen government regulation of the industry and create their own technological chains, including such links as extraction and deep processing of raw materials, as well as production of high-margin products.

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A welcome letter from Valentina Matvienko, Speaker of the Federation Council, was read out by Dmitry Vasilenko, plenipotentiary representative of the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament to the Government of the Russian Federation. The Speaker of the Federation Council called the Forum's theme one of the most important for the sustainable development of mankind. Especially today, when the struggle for control of the world's resources has reached a new, much more fierce level, due to which many states have started to forget about their previous plans in the sphere of nature protection.

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"The struggle for the possession of raw material wealth is gaining momentum, because without it there can be no progress and no production of familiar household items. Russia's mineral and raw materials complex has been a safety cushion for us even in the most difficult and crucial times. We must not forget about it," Valentina Matvienko addressed the Russian participants of the Conference and urged the foreign guests to create collaborations to reduce the negative impact on ecosystems.

Grigori Ordzhonikidze, Executive Secretary of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO, said that, to date, "this is the largest international event in the country." And he read out a welcome address to the participants from Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov.

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"The Forum on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage promotes the best of human and natural resources. This event clearly demonstrates the desire of the international community to unite efforts to achieve goals of utmost importance for all mankind. And it certainly gives us additional strength on the way to achieving these goals", - quoted Sergei Lavrov, Grigory Ordzhonikidze.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak joined the forum online. He found it logical that the event, dedicated to the conservation of natural heritage, is being held at the site of the oldest technical university in our country. After all, its scientists are working on many projects related to improving the efficiency of mining.

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"Current events in the world prove the paramount importance of natural resources for the sovereignty of nations and the sustainability of their development. However, reducing the negative impact of energy and other facilities on the environment is no less important. Sharing knowledge, experience and new ideas in the field of informed mining should allow us to find a balance between humanity's needs for raw materials and the need to reduce the impact on the biosphere," said Alexander Novak.

Mohammad Moazeni, Rector of Shiraz University, one of Iran's most prominent higher education institutions, thanked the conference organizers and sponsors for inviting him to such a significant meeting. He also noted the high importance of the forum in the conservation of natural heritage.

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"This is a task for the entire world population and especially for scientists. Our role cannot be overestimated, as we are shaping new research areas in the field of nature protection and creating new clean technologies. We also shape the morale of students, giving them not only knowledge, but also teaching them how to save the environment. And it is these young people, at least many of them, who will be responsible for minimizing their environmental impact in the long run," Mohammad Moazeni told his colleagues.

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Zhang Xiaoqing, First Deputy Consul General of the People's Republic of China in St. Petersburg, called the theme of the forum "the only right vector for the development of humanity". And he stressed that it is only possible to go from start to finish if the global community is integrated.

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The forum will run until 3 December. During its panel sessions, delegates will discuss such issues as "public policy for ensuring a balance of interests in subsoil use", "environmental management in the context of sustainable development", "groundwater as a unique natural asset" and a number of others. The conference will result in a declaration of the need for an international expert group to develop proposals for the principles of environmental management in the context of conservation of cultural and natural heritage sites.

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