Rustam Minnikhanov: ‘We say ‘Islamic world’, but it turned out we don't have another world yet’

The Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation and the CIS at KazanSummit decided how to respond to sanctions, and the president of Tatarstan urged to work “with those who respect us”

The discussion of the international forum of Chambers of Commerce and Industry on the international ESG agenda took place within the framework of KazanSummit. This abbreviation has recently become increasingly common in the business community and stands for environmental, social, and governance. “The idea that underlies ESG is the sustainable development of commercial activities," they noted at the session. At the same time, as the president of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sergey Katyrin, assured, the Russian Chamber itself has been engaged in this agenda for a long time. The chamber also told how they are going to respond to sanctions and “call London”.

“You can drain the muck into the river, which after 100 metres falls into another region”

The problem is that there are often different understandings even of the 'environmental and social agenda," said Olga Golyshenkova, the moderator of the discussion, member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation. Without naming a large energy company, she gave an example of how it built an Orthodox church near each of its large facilities — although the damage to biodiversity was devastating.

“In the regions, we need to look at interregional cooperation," said Sergey Katyrin, the chairman of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “You can pour the muck into the river, which after 100 meters falls into another region — “let them suffer”. Some things have to undergo interregional expertise. There was a time when almost every region wanted to create a cement plant. They started to compete with each other.

The meaning of ESG is in the “new quality of system management”: you cannot develop the economy while killing the environment at the same time. It is also necessary to build close ties between regions and corporations. This could be done by chambers of commerce and industry in the regions.

As the president of Tatarstan and chairman of the Russia-Islamic World Strategic Vision Group, Rustam Minnikhanov, stated at the plenary discussion, chambers of commerce and industry should have state powers, “not as it is now”. “Today, the economy is the most important thing. If it is normal — we will overcome everything — sanctions, crises," he said.

“Kazan and KazanSummit are becoming a platform, as we say, for the Islamic world, but it turned out that we don't have another world yet. The Islamic world has remained," the president of Tatarstan joked to friendly laughter in the audience. “We need to work with those who respect us.”

“In the conditions of 10 thousand sanctions”

Sergey Katyrin also touched upon the issue of sanctions in his speech, as a result of which the CCI is particularly concerned today about “how the regulatory framework is being formed”.

“In the conditions of 10 thousand sanctions on us… We usually accompany about 100 bills a year. In 2021, for example, there were 1,689 regulatory legal acts. We can't physically answer all of them and check them. In 2021— we gave our conclusions for 368. Not all of them are positive, there are quite a lot of negative conclusions — the acts were then withdrawn from consideration. Speed is very important today. During the Covid-19 self-isolation, acts were sometimes considered in a week, today it is the same," he said.

Secondly, in response to the new economic conditions, the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry formulated two packages of proposals. Thirdly, commenting on the “international agenda”, he added, business councils with 76 countries, joint with Russia, have not closed and continue to work. So far, the CCI of the Russian Federation has not been excluded from either the European or the International Chambers.

“The International Commercial Arbitration Court continue its work. Their 22 branches started working in our country. Finally, the CCI has already established a council for “sustainable development”, where large companies have been invited. Within the framework of BRICS, for example, we started to promote this agenda earlier, we proposed to create a rating agency independent of European countries," the head of the CCI RF said.

However, there are also serious challenges. Firstly, the so-called law on force majeure, prepared at the end of March by Deputy Pavel Krasheninnikov, has not yet been adopted. He proposes a temporary procedure for facilitating the withdrawal of the parties from the agreements and talks about the possibility of freezing obligations under them due to sanctions. In particular, a counterparty who is unable to fulfill the obligations may be absolved from liability, for example, from paying a penalty. In short: “non-performance of contracts may become unpunished”. According to Sergey Katyrin, by now “too much has been put in the bill," and it is unlikely to be adopted at the end of May this year.

Chuvashia is ready to involve neighbouring regions in the Volga decarbonisation project

The head of Chuvashia, Oleg Nikolaev, spoke about how new ESG principles are being implemented in his region.

“Based on the potential of our economy, we will strive to make a digital energy-efficient region. Why? Because Chuvashia is today the flagship for the production of products to ensure energy supply and the security of critical information. We have an electrical cluster, which includes about 200 enterprises," he said.

Another important direction for Chuvashia will be the “Volga” one — the region plans to use it as a “powerful decarbonisation tool”. Considering that the Volga unites many regions, the head of the republic suggests involving these subjects in this project, using large tributaries, even if they are not on the territory of Chuvashia.

“Projects on the creation of carbon polygons in Russia are already being implemented. We've also started. Preliminary calculations: within the framework of the Cheboksary reservoir, we can get an additional 400 thousand cubic metres of water for electricity production," he noted.

Another element of system management in Chuvashia should be: the transformation of the chemical plant left over from Soviet times into a “green site” (hydrogen peroxide and calcium hyperchloride are already produced there, which, according to Nikolaev, “are aimed at ensuring the environmental friendliness of our activities”) and the production of environmentally friendly agricultural products.

“We are also working with the joint venture August, which is located in Tatarstan and Chuvashia. We are developing technologies for the use of pesticides and herbicides that fall under the standards of the green brand," he concluded.

“It happened — lack of water. And all these wishes to build a hydroelectric power plant immediately disappeared”

Marat Sharkesheev, the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Kyrgyz Republic, spoke honestly and simply, saying that six presidents and 37 prime ministers had been changed in Kyrgyzstan over 30 years, and almost everyone was pulling a “whole tail” of new officials to the highest level of power. As a result, with “system management” — “a little bit slowed down”.

“Now we have seen with the last president how he behaves… The main thing is that he does not interfere.

According to Sharkesheev, the Central Asian countries had to think about the same ecology and alternative ecology without any ESG. The year 2020 with its pandemic for the country became a challenge not only for the economy and society, but also for the climate. There was a lack of water. At the same time, Kyrgyzstan has had large-scale plans all these years to build a hydroelectric power station and increase the volume of energy produced for sale to its neighbours (that is, in violation of the ESG principles).

“It happened — lack of water. And all these wishes to build a hydroelectric power plant immediately disappeared. And the price for energy, as expected, has become real. Without a normal energy price, it is impossible to develop other types of energy. That's what we're in! There will be no alternative energy, if there is another such lack of water, it will be bad. Central Asia is very vulnerable to climate change. “Green” restoration is necessary — measures to protect the environment and protect ecosystems," the speaker noted.

Sergey Afanasyev