Russia Holds over 40 Key Arctic-Related Events in 2022 as Arctic Council Chair
New Delhi, December 2022.
In 2022, Russia continued implementing the programme of its two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council, whose cross-cutting theme is ‘Responsible Governance for a Sustainable Arctic’. Russia hosted 43 events in such key areas of cooperation as supporting the Arctic population, including the Indigenous peoples of the North, protecting the environment, adapting to the effects of climate change, promoting the region’s socioeconomic development, as well as strengthening multilateral collaboration and scientific cooperation in the Arctic. The Roscongress Foundation manages the events of Russia’s chairmanship.
Since May 2021, when Russia took the helm of the Arctic Council, this organization has initiated discussions for the first time on the protection of the intellectual property rights of Indigenous peoples amidst globalization, the social responsibility of entrepreneurs, as well as public-private partnerships for the sustainable development of northern ethnic groups. Russia has proposed several projects and initiatives, in particular, related to the digitalization of the cultural and linguistic heritage of Indigenous peoples, the development of creative industries and traditional Arctic medicine, the creation of an international Arctic scientific station that runs on carbon-free energy, ensuring biosecurity in the region, and the creation of a unified digital museum platform.
“Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council not only involves substantive and intensive work with current challenges and promising areas for the sustainable development of the Arctic zone, but also offers an excellent way to accumulate the necessary expertise and experience for the further progressive improvement of the northern regions. The work carried out as part of past events has helped to develop specific solutions on a wide range of items on the Arctic agenda,” said Anton Kobyakov, Adviser to the Russian President and Executive Secretary of the Organizing Committee for Russia’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
The 4th Northern Sustainable Development Forum in Yakutsk served as a key platform of Russia’s chairmanship to discuss the development of the human dimension in the Arctic. The participants looked at ways to improve the quality of life of the Arctic population, supply energy to the northern territories, find a balance between protecting the environment and investing in the region’s development, support Indigenous peoples and young people, as well as train skilled personnel for work in high latitudes.
The Arctic Indigenous Peoples Summit in Moscow featured discussions about current approaches to preserving the languages and cultural heritage of the Indigenous peoples of the Arctic, as well as issues concerning the traditional economy, cross-border cooperation, and state regulation of the activities of communities of Indigenous ethnic groups of the North.
The Conference on Human Health Preservation in the Arctic in Arkhangelsk and the 5th Arctic Telemedicine International Scientific and Training Conference in Naryan-Mar addressed prospects for the development of healthcare as well as medical and biological problems in the Arctic regions; participants in the conference ‘National Megaproject in the Arctic: Staffing and Scientific Support’ in Arkhangelsk discussed issues concerning the individual training of personnel for the Arctic regions; and the ‘Arctic: Territory of Development’ Conference on Ensuring a Comfortable Urban Environment in Yakutsk addressed practical aspects of improving the quality of life of the population of the Far North. Young people presented their views on various aspects of multilateral cooperation in the region at the International Youth Model of the Arctic Council, which was organized at Northern (Arctic) Federal University.
“The top priority of Russia’s policy in the Arctic will always remain its sustainable development, while constantly paying attention to the interests and needs of the entire population in high latitudes, as well as strengthening cooperation between the polar regions and the Indigenous peoples of the North. This is precisely what the projects and initiatives launched during Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council aim to achieve, and they will be continued after its completion,” said Nikolay Korchunov, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Arctic Senior Officials.
During its chairmanship, Russia has been paying special attention to environmental protection, the conservation of the unique, but fragile Arctic ecosystem, as well as the careful analysis and development of measures to adapt to the effects of climate change. In particular, a discussion was held at a specialized conference in Murmansk as part of the environmental pillar of Russia’s chairmanship on ways to lift submerged radioactive and hazardous objects in the seas of the Arctic Ocean, while participants in a conference in Arkhangelsk looked at problems related to combating the buildup of microplastics in the Arctic and waste management in the Arctic regions. At the Conference on Adapting to Climate Change in St. Petersburg, experts identified specific steps to improve ice monitoring systems, protect nature against manmade impacts, and develop research cooperation with other countries.
“Russia occupies almost half of the world’s Arctic zone and accounts for more than 70% of all economic activity in the region. In this regard, I would like to note that the progressive and comprehensive development of the Arctic is key to our country’s economic prosperity for many years to come. At the same time, the preservation of the unique Arctic ecosystem is a priority task. The environmental aspect will be taken into account both in the implementation of more than 500 investment projects that are already under way in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation, as well as in the drafting of new programmes for the development of the region and the Northern Sea Route,” Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic Alexey Chekunkov said.
The International Forum ‘Public-Private Partnership in the Field of Sustainable Development of Indigenous Peoples’ in Murmansk was an important and unique event for the Arctic region as part of the socioeconomic track of Russia’s chairmanship. At the forum, the participants considered the standards of strategies and forms of business’s involvement in ensuring the sustainable development of Indigenous peoples through corporate programmes, agreements with the executive authorities and associations of Indigenous peoples, approaches to state regulation in these areas, as well as measures to enhance the efficient participation of Indigenous peoples in the decision-making process.
In addition, special sessions on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) addressed the modernization of the existing fleet for use in northern latitudes and the development of telecommunications and digitalization in the Arctic, while participants in the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) discussed ways to enhance the investment appeal and develop trade in the Arctic. In 2022, the Arctic-themed booth ‘The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue’ was presented for the first time at the SPIEF, while the EEF featured the House of Indigenous Peoples, which served as a venue for events on the Arctic agenda.
“The Russian Arctic generates more than 11% of the national GDP and more than 20% of exports. We are committed to preserving this region as a zone of peace and cooperation with all states that adhere to a constructive approach to interaction with our country, including non-regional ones, in the interests of the Arctic’s sustainable development. I would like to note that in most cases the complexity of problems in high latitudes requires joint efforts and the pooling of resources, both financial and technological, as well as scientific and organizational,” Korchunov said.
As part its chairmanship, Russia plans to boost the efficiency of scientific activities and the practical applicability of its results in the Arctic and supports programmes for integrated Arctic research and the creation of a mechanism to support multilateral research initiatives in an effort to strengthen scientific and technological cooperation in various areas. In particular, during Russia’s chairmanship, at the initiative of Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed an agreement on the creation of the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Legal Research in the Arctic, which will be a step towards forming a national consortium of Arctic universities that is open to international partnerships. In addition, during the Northern Sustainable Development Forum, an agreement was signed on the establishment of the Russian-Asian Consortium for Arctic Research, with more than ten organizations becoming members.
Key events of the cultural programme of Russia’s chairmanship in 2022 included: the Teriberka Arctic Festival and the Northern Character International Film Festival in the Murmansk Region, the Sociocultural Development of the Northern Regions Creative Business Forum in St. Petersburg and Vladivostok, the Bering Strait International Festival in the Chukotka Autonomous District, the Northern Professions Skills Championship in Murmansk, the ‘Arctic. Breaking the Ice’ Russian Volunteer Forum and Festival in Usinsk, the track ‘Sociocultural Initiatives and the Best Commercial Projects in Creative Entrepreneurship’ in Kogalym, and the Youth Creativity Festival in Arkhangelsk.
In the coming months, Russia will hold new business and cultural events as part of its chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023, whose programme is fully consistent with the goals and objectives of the Strategy for Developing the Russian Arctic Zone and Ensuring National Security until 2035.