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About the International innovation scientific-technological centre “Sustainable Development of Mountain Territories” under the aegis of UNESCO


Mountain territories are situated on all continents of the Earth and take significant areas; they are the centres of the major national, regional and international strategic interests and, quite often, conflicts - economic, social, ecological and even geopolitical.

Mountain territories differ from flat regions not only in obvious external attributes, but also in their deep structure - tectonics, magmatism, dangerous natural processes demonstration, of catastrophic character as well. Considerably more varied resources, dynamic processes and information is observed here on a unit of the area. The important role is also played by vertical zoning when all natural climatic zones with all their peculiar characteristic features and conditions can be met on the small territory of the area.

Original natural climatic conditions of mountain territories have generated unique millennial social, ethnic, cultural and economic traditions here which demand special approach, both for preservation, and for their further development.

Recently the problem of sustainable development of mountain territories has been paid greater attention to (though to a different degree in various countries) by scientific and public organizations, as well as by state bodies.

All said above in full concerns both the Caucasus as a whole, and the territory of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, in particular.

The negative problems of last decades, which have seized the Caucasus, such as the international terrorism, territorial claims, national and religious extremism, catastrophic demonstration of dangerous natural processes, environmental problems of various character and levels, including the crisis caused by a proceeding global warming of the climate, have intensified the existing social and economic problems of this region.

The solution of negative tendencies, such as absence of modern living conditions, unemployment of the population, migration processes, environmental problems, habitation security, etc., is necessary and is possible by concentration of efforts of all interested parties on the basis of the modern scientifically proved innovation approaches.

1. Contribution of RNO-Alania into Sustainable Development of Mountain Territories

The territory of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania is one of mountain territories with all features of natural climatic and social-economic development inherent in these regions.

Worsening of social-economic and nature conditions in the last decades typical of mountain regions inspired the necessity of studying the regional development tendency also within international conferences. The results of the first conference held in October 1992 have highlighted plenty of problems in all aspects of life of the population living in mountain countries. The Resolution contained concrete ways of solution of some of these problems and, moreover, the decision was made to carry out similar conferences in Vladikavkaz regularly.

Six international conferences were held from 1992 to 2007 in which more than 2000 leading scientists and experts, students and post-graduate students from Russia, Austria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Germany, Georgia, Canada, Kirghizia, China, the USA, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, France and Switzerland took part. Besides the representatives of international organizations such as UNESCO, ICIMOD, etc., as well as the heads of state structures and public organizations took part in the conferences.

The conferences covered a wide range of problems of sustainable development of mountain territories: science and education, social sphere and economic development, rational use of natural resources and providing ecological safety, demographic, medical and biologic problems, biodiversity preservation and development of tourism and recreation, increase in technological efficiency of industry and agriculture, building and power engineering.

Summing up the results of the held conferences six proceedings containing the works of participants were published.

On the basis of taken decisions and following the results of the conferences only in RNO-Alania republican program "Mountains of Ossetia" and the republican law "About mountain territories" have been accepted. The Institute of Geology and Rational Nature Management, the Center of Power Audit and Power Management are established, the Mountain Club is opened, the first edition of the periodical - Russian scientific magazine "Sustainable Development of Mountain Territories", is to be published in the North Caucasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.

Scientists and experts of RNO-Alania have not only organized and held international forums, but have also made significant scientific and practical contribution into the results of their work. Scientific researches of republican scientists cover the whole range of questions on problems of sustainable development of mountain territories. These research works are conducted in scientific institutes and higher educational institutions of RNO-Alania: Vladikavkaz Scientific Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Government of RNO-A, the North-Ossetian Institute of Humanitarian and Social Researches, the North Caucasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (State Technological University), the North Caucasian Scientific Research Institute of Mountain and Submountain Agriculture, Mountain State Agrarian University, the North-Ossetian State University, the North-Ossetian State Medical Academy, the North-Ossetian State Pedagogical Institute, etc.

Some of researches are conducted with participation of leading scientists and experts of the largest scientific institutes and high schools both of Russia and foreign countries.

Besides, the scientists of the republic took part in other international forums, dedicated to the problems of sustainable development of territories, such as the international mountain forums in Scotland, Trento, France, Bishkek, etc.

2. Cooperation of UNESCO and RNO-Alania on the Question of Establishing the International Centre for Sustainable Development of Mountain Territories in Vladikavkaz

At the suggestion of UNESCO Secretariat and Permanent Mission of Russia at UNESCO, international workshop on studying the opportunities of establishing in Vladikavkaz the International Caucasian Center for Sustainable Development of Mountain Territories under aegis of UNESCO took place in Paris, on the 9th of February, 2005.

In the final document of the workshop it is underlined that it is expedient and necessary to establish the International Center for Sustainable Development of Mountain Territories under aegis of UNESCO in Vladikavkaz and to carry out in North Ossetia the second workshop on its establishment and definition of the activity program.

Within the framework of the VI International conference "Innovation Technologies for Sustainable Development of Mountain Territories" in Vladikavkaz, on the 29-30th of May, 2007, the II International Workshop on establishing the Centre for Sustainable Development of Mountain Territories took place.

Participants of the conference have noted, that the complex social and economic situation in many mountain areas of the world can be overcome only by joint, coordinated actions of governmental and nongovernmental structures, scientific and religious organizations, general public and the whole population living in mountain areas.

The official positions of national academies of sciences of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Russia supporting the idea of establishment of the mentioned centre have been announced at the workshop.

Great interest in establishment and activity of the center, as well as the realization of concrete projects was expressed by the representatives of SDR, “France Neige International” company and others.

 On the basis of the results of the work of the II International Workshop on establishing the Centre for Sustainable Development of Mountain Territories a Resolution was adopted providing concrete organizational, scientific and practical actions on development and expansion of scientific researches and stirring up the process of center establishment.

3. Aim and Activity Directions of the International Innovation Technological Centre for Sustainable Development of Mountain Territories under Aegis of UNESCO

The Centre must represent some unit integrating the available potential of science and education, opportunities of economy and society, as a whole, as well as material and technical potential of this region. Its establishment will let us achieve the desirable aim that is to provide with optimal conditions for research, experimental and promotional activity and, in future, practical realization, including commercial, of the results of such an activity. Moreover the structure, principles and functioning methods of the Centre should be universal so that its basic features could be applied in other mountain regions. The most effective form, as we see it, is the innovation scientific technological centre, which will unite all necessary constituent systems on the basis of modern achievements of the world and national science in the field of sustainable development of mountain territories.

To achieve the set goals and to solve the specified problems it is suggested to establish the specialized structure uniting and coordinating efforts of scientists of the Caucasus and neighbouring countries - the International innovation scientific technological centre for sustainable development of mountain territories under aegis of UNESCO (further - the Centre) at the North Caucasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (State Technological University) (further – NCIMM (STU)).

    Main directions of the Centre activity:
  1. Studying the problems of science, education, culture, economics and social sphere (social-economic block).
  2. Creation and development of biospheric reserves.
  3. Researches and development in the field of environment protection and rational nature management.
  4. Studying power problems, development and introduction of energy-saving technologies, creation of scientific and technological basis for application of non-traditional and renewed energy sources.

The choice of directions is caused by the problems facing the Centre, their long-term scientific and practical margin.

It is planned to carry out a complex of actions providing development of high technologies, creation of pre-production models, introduction and technical support of production (technology) in each direction.

It should be pointed out that the priority to the problems of social and cultural directions isn’t accidental. Its basis contains a thesis strictly formulated by UNESCO that says that there can’t be harmony in political, economical and social development without the support of cultural development. This thesis must absolutely be taken into account when providing sustainable development of such specific regions as mountain territories. No doubt that only modern system of education and cultural upbringing can serve as a basis for gradual development of political systems, economical structures and social organizations even on the Caucasus. Moreover, it’s necessary to proceed from modern understanding of strategic tasks of social and educational creation, the essence of which is not even specified by UNESCO that announced the current period a decade preserving cultural variety and language heritage of the humanity.

In appliance to the Caucasus the solution of this cardinal problem is only possible with the creation of multilingual and multicultural educational system in the region.

Solving the problems connected with the development of educational and cultural programs, the Centre is planning active cooperation with UNESCO Chair of “Theory and Practice of Multilingual Education on the Caucasus” functioning in the North-Ossetian State Pedagogical Institute.

To sum up creation of t5he UNESCO Centre will also allow us to make the coordination processes of education and cultural development large-scale and system that, in its turn, will create the necessary basis for sustainable political, economical and social development of different regions of the Caucasus.

4. Actions on Establising the International Innovation Technological Centre for Sustainable Development of Mountain Territories under Aegis of UNESCO

On the initiative of the Government of RNO-Alania and the NCIMM (STU) administration, the RF Government decreed (protocol of 28.06.2007, №25, section II, p. 12) to establish innovation scientific technological centre at the North Caucasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (State Technological University). Within the framework of the decree implementation the concept of the centre, technical and economic basis of its activity, proposals on determining scientific subjects, as well as the project of buildings’ reconstruction for the center have already been developed.

According to the decision of the NCIMM (STU) Academic Council of the 27th of March, 2008, the Institute of Geology and Rational Nature Management of the university is transformed to the International innovation scientific technological centre “Sustainable Development of Mountain Territories”.

It’s necessary to mention that the University contains all the necessary conditions for its functioning. A distinctive feature of the NCIMM (STU) is its compact location on the isolated territory in the form of university campus. Educational, administrative and economic buildings, buildings of scientific research institute, centers and innovation enterprises and other constructions are situated on the 16 hectares area. Besides the University has great potential for increasing areas for laboratory, experimental and office premises.

The scientific and pedagogical staff of the university can solve wide range of problems; the significant place of the basic scientific researches of the last years is taken by researches in the field of sustainable development of mountain territories.

5. Management Mechanisms and Organizational-Legal Structure of the Centre

The Centre is to be established as an organization department of the NCIMM (STU) with the right to act by proxy.

    Governing bodies of the Centre:
  1. The International Council of Participants (ICP) is responsible for strategic planning of the Centre activity, its development and activity control. The ICP is formed by one representative from each country-participant and a representative from UNESCO.
  2. Scientific Expert Council (SEC) is responsible for determining scientific directions and research subjects, the current control of intermediate results of scientific activity and the statement of results over the completed researches and development projects. The SEC staff is to be affirmed by Council of Participants (ICP).
  3. The Centre Administration is responsible for efficient management of the Centre activity. The Director of the Centre is appointed by the rector of the NCIMM (STU) in coordination with ICP (as a variant – by the Director General of UNESCO).
6. The Financial Model for Long-Term Prospect

Financing of the Centre activity for long-term prospect will be developed of 3 basic components:

- the federal budget (basic financing of an administrative and management personnel at a rate of 1,8 million rubles per year and in the form of participation in federal competitions, grants, scientific and technical projects making up 40%);

- the republican budget (participation in republican competitions, grants, scientific and technical projects - 15%);

- own funds (means of participants - 15%, and means from performance of scientific and technical projects under economic treaties and applying results of initiative researches and development projects making up 30 %).

  1. The offered variant of the International innovation scientific technological centre “Sustainable Development of Mountain Territories” corresponds to the criteria of the “UNESCO Category II Centre”.
  2. The structure of researches, proceeding from the main activity directions of the Center, corresponds to strategic directions of UNESCO activity and, in future, enables participation in realization of UNESCO Programs in the field of sustainable development of mountain territories.
  3. The main activity directions and a circle of participants of researches in these directions entitle to call the Centre "International".