| The successful environmental programme of the City of Graz, Ecoprofit®, writes a new chapter in its history: A contract has been signed between Graz and the Russian metropolis of St. Petersburg. This means a milestone has been set for establishing the concept conceived in Graz on the hotly contested Russian market of the future.
As of today the Ecoprofit® Programme, which was developed by the Environmental Department of Graz and is based on "environmental protection as protection of people's self-interest", is officially represented in the Russian City of St. Petersburg. The Environmental Representative of the City of Graz, Deputy Mayor Walter Ferk, and his counterpart from St. Petersburg, Dimitry A. Golubev, ceremonially signed the contract that will also establish Ecoprofit® in the Russian metropolis. At the same time, three women and six men from St. Petersburg, who obtained their basic training for the environmental programme in the Ecoprofit® Academy, formally received their certificates from DI Dr. Karl Niederl, Head of the Environmental Department of Graz.
Mr. Ferk hinted at the enormous economic and ecological success companies participating in the programme were achieving using the model world-wide. He also expressed his conviction that St. Petersburg would also reap huge gains in a time of skyrocketing energy prices. "Our programme helps to refute the prejudice that environmental protection is simply something that costs a lot of money – when Ecoprofit® is used, the contrary is the case!" The Deputy Mayor also underlined still another positive effect of today's signing of the contract: The transfer of know-how and concrete projects made possible by the introduction of Ecoprofit® on the high-growth Russian market offered undreamed-of opportunities to innovative Styrian companies working in the environmental sector.
For DI Dr. Karl Niederl, Head of the Environmental Department of Graz, a new type of co-operation between the Ecoprofit® Programme that has already been established all over the world and the Russian partner is also of significance: "With the support of UNIDO (the United Nations Industrial Development Organization) and the Austrian Foreign Ministry, a Business Development Center is being established in St. Petersburg. This center will promote the development of relevant companies at the site." Top experts will continue to provide their services in St. Petersburg and will give advice and support to the guests who have already been trained in the Ecoprofit® Academy in Graz. In this context, the North Western International Cleaner Production Center will act as a turntable and contact point. This center is headed by Dr. Alexander Startsev, who today also received his Ecoprofit® Certificate as one of the first participants of the Ecoprofit® Academy of Graz to successfully complete their training. The marketing of Ecoprofit® will be the responsibility of the Graz Cleaner Production Center Austria (CPC), where Mag. Sabine Gelter is in charge of the relationship with the new partner in Russia.
The enormous dimensions of the deal with St. Petersburg were also illustrated by Dimitry A. Golubev, who is responsible for environmental issues in the Russian metropolis, and Dr. Startsev of the Ecoprofit® Center of St. Petersburg: The 15 to 20 companies in which the successful concept of Graz will be established employ tens of thousands of people. The chosen companies include the Transport Association of St. Petersburg, a pulp/paper mill and several wood-working companies, whose industry is one of the biggest "polluters" in the region. By using Ecoprofit®, the companies can hope not only to improve their ecological and economic balance. Ecoprofit® also provides a way of avoiding the penalties levied for environmental pollution. In order to document the economic upswing in the region, Mr. Golubev referred to St. Petersburg's budget for 2005, which had just been fixed: As compared to this year, the budget will increase by no less than 30 per cent – figures that not only Graz can at best dream of ...
Ekaterina Belyakova, who is responsible for St. Petersburg's foreign relations, recognized the introduction of Ecoprofit® in her city as being an "important part of all the relations between Russia and Austria" and praised the pioneer role of the two cities. She emphasized how rapidly the economic and cultural contacts between the two countries, which had previously been rather limited, had improved once a co-operation agreement between Graz and St. Petersburg had been signed three years ago.