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Deal signed to help protect thousands of indigenuous peoples

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Russia’s metals and mining giant Nornickel has signed a cooperation agreement with the associations representing the indigenous peoples of the Taimyr Peninsula, a remote Arctic land dubbed “the last frontier of Russia” offering a five-year support programme worth 2 billion roubles (over €22 million at the current exchange rate), writes Martin Banks.

This big move shows that the mining company is engaging with the indigenous communities of the areas where it operates. The issue has come under the spotlight recently after another global miner Rio Tinto faced outrage after it had destroyed a 46,000-year-old Indigenous heritage site in Western Australia.

The Nornickel’s support programme, signed on Friday, includes a wide range of initiatives aimed at protecting the natural habitat and supporting indigenous peoples’ traditional activities.

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The money will be used to build new homes, hospitals, schools, for infrastructural and cultural projects.

The initiative was drawn up after 100 interviews and various polls of the indigenous communities. Priority areas for support were identified as the creation of seasonal jobs in tourism and other industries, reindeer husbandry, fishing and hunting. The 40 new initiatives also include workshops for reindeer and fish processing, purchase of refrigeration units, construction of an ethnical complex with workshops for fur processing and subsidises of helicopter transportation.

Nornickel Federal and Regional Programmes Vice President Andrey Grachev said the programme is aimed at “stimulating the economic activity of the indigenous peoples and facilitating the use of renewable resources – the basis of their traditional lifestyle”.

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He added: “Nornickel has a long history of close cooperation with organizations representing the interests of indigenous communities in the regions of our operations, ensuring transparency in decision-making and that joint projects are implemented in the most efficient manner possible.”

Further comment comes from Grigory Ledkov, President of the Association of Indigenous Minorities of the North in Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation, who said the agreement “can serve as an example for other companies, as it emphasizes the importance of preserving the habitat of indigenous people and protecting our values and traditions.”

He said that gathering opinions of indigenous populations was “a huge step in the right direction and will serve as a model for future projects of this kind”.

The results of this exercise, he said: “Will help develop initiatives which will be of paramount importance for indigenous populations.

“This agreement will help us find new joint approaches to sustainable living and working in the North, as well as resolve other pressing issues facing local communities.”

The company already offers a range of support in the region ranging from air transportation, the procurement of building materials and diesel fuel, as well as cultural events and celebrations.

The agreement was signed in Moscow by Grachev and Ledkov along with Artur Gayulsky, President of the Regional Association of Indigenous Peoples of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, and Grigory Dyukarev, Chairman of the Association of Indigenous Minorities of Taimyr, Krasnoyarsk Territory.

Nornickel, the world’s largest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel, has already invested 277m roubles (over €3m) between 2018 and 2020 towards support and development of the regions.

European Commission

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €231 million in pre-financing to Slovenia

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The European Commission has disbursed €231 million to Slovenia in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's grant allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €2.5 billion in total, consisting of €1.8bn in grants and €705m in loans, over the lifetime of its plan. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80 billion in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU.

The RRF is at the heart of NextGenerationEU which will provide €800bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states. The Slovenian plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Cyprus

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €157 million in pre-financing to Cyprus

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The European Commission has disbursed €157 million to Cyprus in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's financial allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €1.2 billion in total over the lifetime of its plan, with €1 billion provided in grants and €200m in loans. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80bn in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU. Part of NextGenerationEU, the RRF will provide €723.8bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states.

The Cypriot plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Belgium

EU Cohesion policy: Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy receive €373 million to support health and social services, SMEs and social inclusion

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The Commission has granted €373 million to five European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) operational programmes (OPs) in Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy to help the countries with coronavirus emergency response and repair in the framework of REACT-EU. In Belgium, the modification of the Wallonia OP will make available an additional €64.8m for the acquisition of medical equipment for health services and innovation.

The funds will support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in developing e-commerce, cybersecurity, websites and online stores, as well as the regional green economy through energy efficiency, protection of the environment, development of smart cities and low-carbon public infrastructures. In Germany, in the Federal State of Hessen, €55.4m will support health-related research infrastructure, diagnostic capacity and innovation in universities and other research institutions as well as research, development and innovation investments in the fields of climate and sustainable development. This amendment will also provide support to SMEs and funds for start-ups through an investment fund.

In Sachsen-Anhalt, €75.7m will facilitate cooperation of SMEs and institutions in research, development and innovation, and provide investments and working capital for micro-enterprises affected by the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, the funds will allow investments in the energy efficiency of enterprises, support digital innovation in SMEs and acquiring digital equipment for schools and cultural institutions. In Italy, the national OP ‘Social Inclusion' will receive €90m to promote the social integration of people experiencing severe material deprivation, homelessness or extreme marginalisation, through ‘Housing First' services that combine the provision of immediate housing with enabling social and employment services.

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In Spain, €87m will be added to the ESF OP for Castilla y León to support the self-employed and workers who had their contracts suspended or reduced due to the crisis. The money will also help hard-hit companies avoid layoffs, especially in the tourism sector. Finally, the funds are needed to allow essential social services to continue in a safe way and to ensure educational continuity throughout the pandemic by hiring additional staff.

REACT-EU is part of NextGenerationEU and provides €50.6bn additional funding (in current prices) to Cohesion policy programmes over the course of 2021 and 2022. Measures focus on supporting labour market resilience, jobs, SMEs and low-income families, as well as setting future-proof foundations for the green and digital transitions and a sustainable socio-economic recovery.

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