Dauria: Need for a Cooperation Framework

Dauria exemplifies transboundary regions in need of shared environmental responsibility, particularly for wetlands: almost 1,500 kilometers of the border between three countries is partly formed by shared river courses and adjacent wetlands, many of which are Ramsar sites of global conservation concern.

Countries and provinces of the basin place conflicting claims on dwindling resources and lack effective mechanisms for coordinating the management of diverse natural resources. International trade with China and other Asian neighbors drives resource extraction in the Russia and Mongolia. Areas near the border are potentially the areas where the most rapid unregulated development will occur. The depletion of biological resources, agricultural development, and pollution already create basin-wide problems and should generate strong incentives for basin-wide river management regimes. Existing environmental agreements between countries are weak and non-comprehensive. Mutual obligations in Sino-Russian, Sino-Mongolian and Mongolian-Russian relations differ significantly. This calls for development of comprehensive environmental standards within a shared nature resource management framework. So far conservation policy initiatives have been haphazard; related problems were addressed independently by different institutions, even if they used funds of the same GEF (Global Environment Facility), while participating parties failed to formulate a coherent framework for basin-wide action. Emergence in 2006 of a Sino-Russian Environmental Sub-commission under the Commission on Regular Meetings of Heads of State is a very hopeful sign, but the ultimate solution for Amur-Heilong would have to involve trilateral efforts and international activities going well beyond the mandates of current environmental agreements and biodiversity treaties.

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