International environmental cooperation in Northwest Russia

Concern over environmental problems in Northwest Russia has resulted in a complex structure of international environmental cooperation in the region since the early 1990s. This research studies experiences and views on developments of the cooperation and its results from the Russian and Nordic perspectives. 

The main questions  in the reseach are:

  • what are the major developments in international environmental cooperation towards sustainable development since the late 1980s from the Russian perspective?; 
  • what are the main changes in the environmental administration, in regions and civil society which have affected most the cooperation?;
  • which changes in the Russian, European, Arctic or international context have advanced, disturbed or obstructed international environmental cooperation?; and 
  • what is the role of international environmental cooperation in tackling the environmental problems in the region?

Research methods

The interviews (100) were conducted in Apatity, Arkhangelsk, Moscow, Murmansk, Petrozavodsk, and St. Petersburg during the winter 2003–2004 and again in 2006. Most of the Nordic interviews (18) were made in Helsinki, Kirkenes, Oslo, Rovaniemi, and Stockholm in spring 2004, but some follow-up interviews (3) were made in Helsinki in 2006. The interviewees were selected using publicly available lists of national contact persons and members of working groups. The persons interviewed were promised anonymity. 

In addition, a questionnaire was sent in fall 2004 and again in fall 2006 to project managers working in Northwestern Russia to collect their experiences of international environmental cooperation in the region. Seventy-five of them, mainly Nordic project managers, responded to the questionnaire.

Projects on Sustainable Development in Northwest Russia database was compiled during 2004 - 2006. 

Research period is 2002-2007


  • Leader: research professor Monica Tennberg 
  • Assistants and trainees: Katja ja Maria Rakkolainen
  • Partners: director Larissa Ryabova (Kola Science Centre), researcher Ljudmila Ivanova (Kola Science Centre), researcher Nadezhda Kharlampieva (University of St. Petersburg, School of International Relations), senior research fellow Tamara Semenova (Russian Institute on Cultural and Natural Heritage, Moscow) and professor Svetlana Agarkova (University of Petrozavodsk)


  • Tennberg, M. (2009) Kansainvälinen ympäristöyhteistyö Luoteis-Venäjällä: Venäjä ympäristövastuun kantajana. Terra 121:3, 199-209.
  • Tennberg, M. (2009) Regional Governance, Path-Dependency and Capacity-Building in International Environmental Cooperation. In S. Nystén-Haarala (eds.), Changing Governance of Renewable Natural Resources in Northwest Russia. Ashgate, Aldershot.
  • Tennberg, M. (2007) Trust in international environmental cooperation in Northwest Russia. Cooperation and Conflict 42(3):321-335.
  • Tennberg, M. (2007) International environmental cooperation in northwest Russia: an assessment of performance. Polar Record 43(226):231-238.
  • Tennberg, M. (2007) International Environmental Cooperation in Northwest Russia: An Overview of the Research Project and its Results. Arctic Idea (Oct.):58-59.
  • Tennberg, M. (2005) Kansainvälisen ympäristöyhteistyön vaikuttavuus Luoteis-Venäjällä. Alue & Ympäristö 34(2):26-35.

Conference presentations

  • Paper: International Environmental Cooperation and Sustainable Development in the Northwest Russia presented at the 3rd Aleksanteri Institute conference, Discovering the Concepts of Nature in Russia: Means for Understanding Russian Culture and Environmental Policies, 7-8.11.2003, Helsinki, Finland.
  • Paper: Sustainable Development in Arctic Russia: Federal and Regional Approaches presented at the Fifth Pan-European International Relations Conference, 9-11.9.2004, The Hague, Netherlands
  • Paper: International Environmental Cooperation in Northwestern Russia: Towards a Constructivist Understanding of Effectiveness presented at the Nordic Environmental Social Studies Conference, 15-17.6.2005, Göteborg, Sweden.
  • Paper: International Environmental Cooperation in Northwestern Russia: Two Perspectives presented at the International Congress of Central and Eastern European Studies (ICCEES), 25-30.7.2005, Berlin, Germany.
  • Poster: International Environmental Cooperation in Northwest Russia:  Developing a Pragmatist Research Strategy presented at the annual convention of International Studies Association, 28.2-3.3.2007, Chicago, USA.

Cooperation with other research projects

  • Ethical Dimensions of Foreign Policy, leaders professor Juha Sihvola, University of Helsinki and researcher Minna Jokela, University of Turku funded by the Finnish ministry for Foreign Affairs 2004-2005. See for  more information [pdf].
  • Governance of Renewable Natural Resources, leader professor Soili Nystén-Haarala, University of Joensuu, funded by the Finnish Academy Russia in Flux research program. See for more information

The project is funded by the Academy of Finland.

More information

Research Professor Monica Tennberg
Arctic centre, Univeristy of Lapland

Northwest Russia