The charitable foundation «World Around You» of the Siberian Wellness Corporation and Lake Baikal Foundation signed a cooperation agreement in 2021.
The Corporate foundation will allocate 5,000,000 rubles for the implementation of environmental projects together with Lake Baikal Foundation. Thus, for the fourth year in a row, the organizations will continue their partnership in the field of water and biodiversity conservation programs, sustainable tourism and environmental education.
We present to your attention an interview with the CEO of Lake Baikal Foundation Anastasia Tsvetkova and the head of charitable projects of the «World Around You» Foundation Larisa Buyantueva. They spoke about the principles of sustainable partnership, joint project plans for 2021 and the synergy effect of interaction between NGOs and businesses.
- Larisa, what motivates Siberian Wellness to develop a sustainable partnership with NGOs?
Larisa Buyantueva: The world today can not mindlessly dispose of natural resources. We have already seen how destructive modern environmental disasters are and how fragile the harmony of nature is. It is time for human being to recognize that most of nature’s problems are man-made. And do everything possible to prevent it from happening again.
This year we have two big anniversaries: 25 years of Siberian Wellness and 10 years of our «World Around You» Foundation. In honor of the anniversary, we plan to hold volunteer eco-actions, both in the Russian Federation and in the countries of presence —more than 60 countries! What could be better gift for a company that produces natural products than the preservation of nature?
A positive example of our company is not only that it transfers large sums to environmental projects, but also that it encourages and motivates a huge number of people to actively participate in environmental projects.
Siberian Wellness is the case which shows that taking care of the environment is not just another mainstream, but a key business principle. The company proves this with concrete steps. Today, our team is active in several key areas: improving eco-friendly production, supporting projects to protect the environment for more than nine years, developing a culture of responsible consumption and promoting natural, safe products for an active lifestyle.
The common goal of humanity is to keep our world as beautiful as it is. We encourage everyone to participate in eco-initiatives, develop a «green» culture in the domestic sphere and help in the implementation of large-scale projects. This is the only way we can save our planet.
- Anastasia, how do you think companies can help NGOs implement the principles of sustainable development?
Anastasia Tsvetkova: As we all know, the Sustainable Development Goals are such an universal call to action. To take action to eradicate poverty, protect our planet, improve the quality of life and improve the prospects for all people around the world. It is obvious that multilateral cooperation is necessary to achieve the goals and the more effectively it is built, the more likely we are to succeed. Companies can help NGOs in different ways, and this assistance can now be expressed in different areas of cooperation. In addition to the classic charitable assistance, which of course must meet the company’s strategy, there is an opportunity to integrate non-profit organizations into the supply chain, increasing the sustainability of enterprises. However, there is no single recipe, much will depend on both the business model of the company, its size, and the organizational and legal form of the non-profit organization, the specifics of its activities and the strategic goals that it sets for itself. Leading companies in the field of sustainable development can also share their accumulated practices for implementing system projects with NGOs. After all, a truly sustainable business development is a large-scale work on the formation of values in the field of sustainable development, strategies that take into account a lot of factors for greening or improving social inclusion. This is a huge amount of work, which is worth the experience, and this experience and knowledge is an invaluable resource that can be useful for non-profit organizations.
In the case of Lake Baikal Foundation, interaction with companies is based on the principles of equal partnership. We offer corporate foundations and business partners programs for the sustainable development of the Baikal region, and these programs either solve an urgent problem for the ecosystem that is not covered by the attention of the state, or create model environmental solutions that can later be replicated in other regions. We cannot and should not replace the state, but we can draw its attention to the problem areas and offer solutions based on our own research and in-depth expert dialogue with scientific institutions, protected areas, and other relevant non-profit organizations. Companies support those projects of the Foundation that correspond to their strategy, both financially and intellectually. For example, in our work there is a large block on the analysis of legislative initiatives, in which we are pro bono assisted by lawyers. At the same time, we also have our own code of interaction with partners, in which we indicated at the level of the current Board of Trustees that we will be able to cooperate only with those organizations that implement the principles of sustainable development in their activities, do not harm the ecosystem of Lake Baikal and are aimed at caring for the environment.
- Larisa, why did Siberian Wellness decide to help Baikal?
Larisa Buyantueva: Baikal is not only a Russian treasure, but also a world treasure. It is criminal to dispose of natural resources of this scale. Everyone needs to take care of the ecology of Lake Baikal every day.
80% of the problems on Lake Baikal are related to a human and his actions. It doesn’t matter who is the source of these problems, a local resident or a business like illegal hotels on the shore, which do not have sewage treatment plants.
Our «World Around You» Foundation has been supporting environmental projects on Lake Baikal for more than nine years. We started small: with the «Baikal Ecological Wave» we saved the endemic plants of the island of Olkhon and conducted eco-schools for children, helped the Barguzin Nature Reserve to restore structures in Davsha, purchased equipment for the fire brigade, etc.
Since 2018, we have become a corporate trustee of Lake Baikal Foundation and have moved to a more global level of assistance. Now we look at the protection of Lake Baikal much more broadly. Our plans are not limited to local actions. Together with the Foundation, we support domestic science, promote grants for young scientists, foster eco-culture among the local population and tourists, educate children and carry out social projects — this is not the whole list of our tasks. To date, our foundation has transferred more than 21 million rubles for the preservation of the nature of Lake Baikal and in 2021 it is planned to carry out projects in the amount of 5 million rubles.
- Anastasia, what projects will be implemented by Lake Baikal Foundation with the participation of the «World Around You» Foundation in 2021? Why is prolongation of cooperation important?
Anastasia Tsvetkova: The «World Around You» Foundation of Siberian Wellness Corporation has been supporting the statutory activities of Lake Baikal Foundation for the fourth year in a row. In 2017, the «World Around You» Foundation came to us with a desire to consolidate its charitable projects in the Baikal Natural Territory, to develop a systematic approach to philanthropic aspirations. Together, we have developed a strategic plan to involve the organization’s resources in such areas of our work as water conservation, biodiversity conservation, sustainable tourism and environmental education. This plan did not involve the creation of a one-time special project, it was based on the principles of partnership for sustainable development. The «World Around You» Foundation has become our corporate trustee, whose guarantee of support allows us to plan long-term initiatives and work through them with our expert council, constantly verify a request for help or a solution to a specific challenge and respond to it with both targeted grant support and the creation of fundamentally new applied research to overcome pressing environmental problems.
So, this year, thanks to the «World Around You» Foundation, we, on the one hand, will once again support the long-term monitoring program of Lake Baikal «Point No1», which has been implemented on the basis of Scientific Research Institute of Biology at Irkutsk State University since 1945, and on the other hand, we will conduct unique genetic studies of the Baikal seal to draw conclusions about the state of the endemic population. Why such examples of projects? In 2015-2016, after the implementation of the funding reform in universities, the prolongation of work at the «Point No1» (pelagic stationary station No. 1, where phyto and zooplankton samples are taken) was called into question, since state guaranteed funds were not provided for projects of such a long-term format. The situation has caused concern in the global professional community, because monitoring data is used by scientists from around the world to study climate change. The project was funded by donations to Lake Baikal Foundation, and the guarantee of annual support for such an important project was made possible by the «World Around You» Foundation joined our Board of Trustees.
In cooperation with A.N. Severtsov Institute for Ecology and Evolution of RAS (IEE RAS), we have developed a comprehensive program for the study of the Baikal seal for 2020-2025, the objectives of which are to study the current state of the Baikal seal population as an endemic fauna and an indicator species of the state of Lake Baikal, as well as to form a scientific basis for ensuring effective conservation of the biodiversity of Lake Baikal. So, we have created a new direction of non-invasive research of a unique animal, and now we are gradually obtaining data on the Baikal seal.
I would like to note that within the framework of cooperation with the «World Around You» Foundation, this year it is also planned to introduce separate waste collection in national parks – the experience of the project «Trash Free National Parks» already implemented in 2019-2020 in the Zabaikalsy National Park will be replicated in the Chikoy National Park. Meanwhile, in the Zabaikalsy National Park, with the support of the Presidential Grants Foundation and our corporate trustee, a large eco-educational project will be organized — the Baikal Nature Reserve School, a unique educational space where all interested visitors will have the opportunity to learn how to take care of resources and diversify their tourist holidays with useful activities. For example, you can try out the process of pressing recycled materials and learn more about the cycle of waste movement, examine the composition of water and bottom sediments from Lake Baikal and other reservoirs through a microscope and immerse yourself in the processes of water circulation in nature.
As a result, combining our efforts, we enter the project year 2021 with the accumulated knowledge and with new plans to strengthen the existing areas of work.
- Larisa, why does Siberian Wellness invest in sustainable development and corporate social responsibility in general?
Larisa Buyantueva: In my opinion, the larger the organization, the greater the responsibility it bears to nature. We are convinced that at time of growing global challenges, a sustainable development strategy is the key to preserving peace and, in the long term, it will help to achieve well-being for all mankind. Therefore, we are gradually improving the structure of our company, production and development strategy. It is certainly important for us to become part of the global sustainable development movement developed by the UN. In 2020, we announced our own plan until 2030, based on 8 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Investments are different and this is not only monetary support for initiatives, it is also a contribution to development. One of the advantages of network companies is excellent tools for replicating and developing various ideas and projects. In this sense, we try to share the most up-to-date opportunities and help our Business Partners develop, including in matters not directly related to business. For example, we recently opened an excellent EcoStep course in two languages that is available to everyone, which we prepared with invited experts, and also launched the first corporate crowdfunding platform, Siberian. Help.
We consider it very important to help the sphere that cannot save itself. Without active human action, it is impossible to preserve endemics and endangered species of plants and animals.
The «Business and Society» portal also wrote about the prolongation of cooperation between the foundations. We commend this portal for highlighting the agenda of sustainable interaction between business and NGOs.
Larisa and Anastasia also shared a joint broadcast, during which they told how foundations can be friends.