Project rationale (Background)

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on  Climate Change (UNFCC) the Russian Federation ranks in 3rd place in the list of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting countries worldwide (excluding emissions from forest use and change) (UNFCC 2012, FCCC/SBI/2012/31, p. 14) . Although the total amount of GHG-emissions decreased by 34.1 % from 1990 till 2010 (because of the breakdown of the Sovjet Union), it is still remarkable with 2 207 596  Gg CO2-equivalents, whereas around 70% are CO2-emissions (UNFCC 2012, FCCC/SBI/2012/31, p. 14). To improve environmental safety and to reduce the total emissions, the Russian Federation is constantly increasing the volume of funds on environment protection. In 2005 they accounted 233,9 billion rub. and in 2010 they reached 372,4 billion rub (increase by 59,2 %).The commitment of observance of binding emission reduction targets within the Kyoto protocol (no increase of CO2-emissions compared to 1990) highlights the meaning of climate change mitigation for the Russian Federation and thus for its economy and industry. The implementation of Eco-Audit and Environmental Management in their business decision making is crucial for enterprises not only to observe legal guidelines but also to increase their (energy) efficiency and thus reduce costs and gain competitive advantage.  Furthermore, the impacts of climate change (e.g. heavy precipitation, heat or cold waves) will have a stronger influence on enterprises and their daily business in the future either directly (e.g. damages of production infrastructure by flood or storms, impacts of heat waves/high temperatures on the health of workers and productivity of machines) or indirectly (e.g. impacts on procurement by extreme weather events). Thus, the adaptation to the impacts of climate change has to be integrated into the corporate longterm planning and daily decision making.

Therefore, the responsible persons in the enterprises have to be trained sufficiently in order to be able to implement efficient Eco-Management in their company. Within the education and studies for ecologists and specialists environmental issues are integrated. However, this education is rather general (or is restricting too strong on a specific aspect; e.g., a retraining course at the Ural State University of Railway Transport (USURT-P7) on “Ecological Audit for workers at transport”) and so far there are no special lifelong learning programs in the Russian partner universities that address managers, responsible for the corporate Environmental Management, in order to train them for the implementation of Eco-Audit and climate change adaptation in their enterprises. In fact, the education and training necessarily has to be aligned to international standards and the state of the art of science.

The project RECOAUD will close this gap and thereby achieve several objectives:

First of all, by developing and implementing a standardized curriculum for a lifelong learning program "Eco-Audit and Environmental Management" in the partner universities and regions, the awareness for facing and integrating into corporate decision making will be increased and thus the regional economy strengthened.

Second, the knowledge exchange and cooperation will be fostered in several perspectives. On the one hand, the exchange between European and Russian universities refreshes existing relationships and builds up new ones. The RECOAUD project will update and synchronize the lifelong learning education related to climate change (Eco-Management and climate change adaptation) according to international standards and the state of the art. As students -the future generation of experts in the companies- are integrated in the implementation of the courses, important experiences and impulses can be used for the update of the general education at universities in this field. On the other hand, the knowledge transfer and the relationship between Russian partner universities and enterprises will be sustainably fostered. The knowledge exchange between enterprises from different regions will provide best practice examples and allow cooperations for an efficient and sustainable joint action for facing climate change. Finally, by developing a standardized program and implementing it within a case for the railway sector, the regional exchange and cooperation is sustainably fostered. Following, the concept can be successfully extended to other regions and industries and thus the awareness of climate change of the Russian economy and industry can be increased. Thus, the Russian economy and industry can develop in a longterm and sustainable way by recognizing and overcoming the risks of climate change and by managing their proper responses.

Finally, based on the described motivation and objectives, RECOAUD will achieve a main objective: to have a major impact on the society at large. By providing comprehensive education and information on the challenges of climate change and how to face these (by Eco-Management and adaptation) the awareness is sustainably increased within the trained participants. More important, by passing on the knowledge within the individual (business and private) environment, a multiplier effect is started (from the workers and students) including and affecting the whole society. Not least because of the increased awareness, actual behavior and action (related to Eco-Management and climate change adaptation) will be reconsidered and adapted. Thus, a sustainable impact on the society at large is achieved.