The Future of the Natural Resources Sector in Russia
Environmental management, technologies, products and services are commonly expected to provide significant economic opportunities for companies and countries. This is mainly due to increasing awareness among politicians, academics and the wider population on the importance of environmental aspects in daily life. Consequently demand for environmentally friendly solutions is expected to grow continuously in the next decade. The present study is part of a broader research project which examines the long-term science and technology (S&T) agenda in Russia up to 2030. The project's results were approved by the Prime Minister of Russia in early January 2014. Researchers from the National Research University Higher School of Economics carried out the research project at the request of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science between 2011 and 2013. The research comprised six interrelated spheres: ICT; biotechnology, medicine and public health; new materials and nanotechnologies; environmental management; transport and space systems; and energy efficiency and energy conservation. For each sphere, the project explored in-depth the global emergent challenges and opportunities, the risks, and their degree of influence on Russia. The authors analysed the most important potential market niches, products and services that are capable of radically shaping world markets and highlighted their competitive advantages. Within the framework of these priority science areas authors emphasised several spheres of particular potential value and compared the level of research carried out in Russia and the leading countries. The current paper also covers the analyses the natural resources sector made within a project aimed at integration of national and sectoral S&T Foresight studies funded by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science. Findings show that the potential applications for environmental products and services are manifold. The study is based on a thorough analysis of expert opinions and their assessment of future applications and the development of demand for these applications. However the authors note that the expert opinions included in the assessment of prospective products, services and markets, despite being based on rigorous assessment, still reflect expectations. Their opinions incorporate a degree of uncertainty especially with regard to how and when (or whether) the markets, technologies, products and services will develop in the expected ways.