All directions of regional cooperation should be concentrated on transboundary environmental problems in Northeast Asia.
Three levels of transboundary environmental problems in the region can be discerned: level of natural economic, institutional and political economic level. Each level of problems requires adequate approaches to solve them and different types of international environmental agreements. Northeast Asia is still one of the least institutionalized regions in the world, with few institutions for cooperation and dialogue including environmental issues. The institutional level is constitutive and should be furthered to solve regional environmental problems.
Up to political economic level ecological degradation, resource scarcity, and population pressures are a potential source of conflicts. On the other hand, regional cooperation on environmental issues can promote confidence and enhance regional peace.
Regional characteristic features exacerbate environmental problems. Among them are considerable dispersion in the level of development of the countries in the region (asymmetry), formation of economic and environmental space of region on the basis of bilateral relations (bilateralism), burdening to the region with the cumbersome historical heritage (politicalization). These features impart unique, inconsistent and hardly predicted character to transboundary environmental policy in the region. This is likely to increase the difficulties of concluding agreements, due to free rider problem.
The new elements are emerging in Russian position to regional environmental problems. These problems are ranked to the level of national security. They include both developing deposits and transportation. At all levels of public and political life are acknowledged that environmental problems are transforming into infrastructure restraints economic growth for Russian Far East. Ecologic problems of southern part of Russian Far East are getting threatening character. The next new tendency is growing alarmism up to ecologic extremism. The spreading of understanding that national resource abundance and low population density will not protect Russian Far East from severe transboundary environmental problems.
The basis of environmental policy is transforming from concept of “localized" problems to concept of “penetrated” problems. The program of formation of advanced development zones in East Russia is announced on the basis of position that resource (raw) economics don’t contradict to innovative economics. The attention to interactions between transboundary environmental problems and regional export is drawing scientific and public attention in Russia and China.
Summing up, a crucial challenge for North-East Asia is to form a new path of regional development in direction of efficient consumption of natural resources and less production of environmental pollution.