Russia Completes a Busy First Year as Chairperson of the Arctic Council Chairmanship
Moscow: Addressing the media on Russia completing the first year of its two-year chairmanship in the Arctic Council, Mr Nikolay Korchunov, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials and Ambassador-at-Large for Arctic Cooperation of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, highlighted the achievements of the first year.
He detailed the events planned under the “Responsible Governance for the Sustainable Arctic” program.
The diplomat stressed Russia’s commitment to the Arctic region’s balanced development. He further stated that Russia believes sustainable socio-economic development is key to improving the well-being of the indigenous people of the North, creating new jobs, and increasing the Arctic’s investment appeal.
“Russia geographically accounts for nearly one-third of the entire Arctic region and recognizes its special responsibility for the region. Our goal is to ensure the Arctic’s sustainable development through creating a state-of-the-art infrastructure, exploring resources, developing the industrial base, and improving the quality of life of the indigenous people of the North while preserving their unique culture and traditions. Today, 423 investment projects cumulatively worth RUB 693 billion are being implemented in the Arctic. These projects will create 21,900 jobs in the region,” Added Yury Trutnev, Deputy Prime Minister, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, Chair of the Organizing Committee on Russia’s Chairmanship in the Arctic Council.
The Council’s plenary session held on 1–2 December 2021 in Salekhard was the highlight of the official event series. It included discussions of the Arctic’s sustainable socioeconomic development and of the opportunities for bolstering youth cooperation in high latitudes, broached the issues of cooperation between the Indigenous Peoples of the North and between the Arctic regions, and the matter of increasing the efficiency of interactions with the Arctic Economic Council where Russia also holds the chairmanship in 2021–2023. The participants discussed the implementation of projects and joint solutions to such matters as forest fires, climate change and its effect on the Arctic ecosystems, the novel coronavirus pandemic and its influence on the health of the Indigenous Peoples and other residents of the Arctic. For the first time, the event featured speeches by special representatives of the Chair of the Committee of Senior Arctic Officials on cooperation between indigenous peoples, maritime activities, by the youth ambassador, and by the Indigenous Youth ambassador.
Russia’s chairmanship programme includes a section on the human dimension which features several conferences such as Human Health Conservation in the Arctic, “The Arctic as a National Megaproject: Personnel and Research Support,” and the “Arctic: Territory of Development” on creating a comfortable urban environment. Participants of the ‘Arctic: Territory of Development’ Conference on Ensuring a Comfortable Urban Environment, which took place on 22–25 May in Yakutsk, discussed the development of the urban Arctic environment, the creation of master plans for northern cities and the tourism industry, and the implementation of the Arctic Hectare programme.
The Conference on Waste and Microplastic Problem in the Arctic, the International Forum on Designated Conservation Areas (DSA) in the Arctic, and the Arctic Meteorological Summit will discuss the future of developing nature conservation cooperation in high latitudes and the introduction of nature-saving technologies.
A thematic Arctic booth at SPIEF 2022 will host three events under Russia’s chairmanship, including an International workshop on shipbuilding and ship repairs in the Arctic, a Conference on developing telecommunications and digitization in the Arctic, and the “Creative Industries of the North” event intended to promote the cultures of the small Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic, Northern territories’ brands, and to stimulate cooperation between the state, businesses, non-commercial and public organizations in order to preserve the heritage.
In March of this year, western member states of the Arctic Council temporarily suspended their participation in the Council’s official events and in the activities of its auxiliary bodies
Nikolay Korchunov says that this decision “Will inevitably result in the mounting risks and challenges for the ‘soft’ security in the Arctic that the Council has theretofore been successfully handling.” The current “hiatus” in the Council’s activities is fraught with negative consequences for the well-being of the population of the Arctic, including its Indigenous Peoples. The speediest resumption of the Arctic Council’s full-fledged activities is in the best interests of the entire international community. Russia is ready to resume the dialogue in the high latitudes. The emphasis is on the fact that western member states putting a ‘freeze’ on their involvement in the Council’s activities is a temporary development that does not entail reformatting membership in the organization. At the recent ‘Arctic Borders’ conference in Tromsø, different speakers stressed that the Arctic Council is particularly valuable with the participation of all the eight Arctic states and that western member states are not interested in changing the structure or the membership lineup and are committed to preserving the Council as the key forum for making collective decisions. In this sense, our western colleagues’ stance on the Arctic Council has not changed.”
Some of the other projects spearheaded by the Arctic Council are:
- digitizing the cultural and linguistic heritage of the indigenous people of the North
- biosecurity issues in the Arctic
- developing renewable energy sources
- creating an international Arctic research station focused on carbonless energy
In addition, the Council is currently working on project proposals for traditional medicine of the indigenous people and on developing creative industries in the Arctic. It is also developing Russia’s initiative — “Digital Museums of the Arctic”.
“An extensive and diverse schedule is planned for Russia’s tenure as chairman, reflecting the role and importance of the Arctic, both for Russia, which is consistently building up its regional presence and for the entire world. The fact that Members of the Arctic are willing to act together, forgetting their regional differences, significantly contributes to the Arctic’s balanced development. This approach rests on international research, cutting-edge technologies, and close attention to the ecosystem and the people who live and work in the North,” opined Alexei Chekunkov, Russia’s Minister for the Russian Far East and Arctic Development.
Russia’s chairmanship programme focuses on the human dimension, which features several conferences such as
- Human health conservation in the Arctic, “The Arctic as a National Megaproject: Personnel and Research Support,” and the “Arctic: Territory of Development” on creating a comfortable urban environment.
- Participants of the Arctic: Territory of Development conference on ensuring a comfortable urban environment, which took place on 22–25 May in Yakutsk, discussed the development of the urban Arctic environment, the creation of master plans for northern cities and the tourism industry, and the implementation of the Arctic Hectare programme.
- The Conference on Waste and Microplastic Problem in the Arctic, the International Forum on Designated Conservation Areas (DSA) in the Arctic, and the Arctic Meteorological Summit will discuss the future of developing nature conservation cooperation in high latitudes and the introduction of nature-saving technologies.
- A thematic Arctic booth at SPIEF (St. Petersburg International Economic Forum), 2022, will host three events under Russia’s chairmanship:
ü an international workshop on shipbuilding and ship repairs in the Arctic
ü a conference on developing telecommunications and digitization in the Arctic
ü The “Creative Industries of the North” event is intended to promote the culture of the small indigenous people of the Arctic and Northern territories’ brands and to stimulate cooperation between the state, businesses, and non-commercial and public organizations to preserve the heritage.
- The core issues during Russia’s chairmanship will enhance the upcoming St. Petersburg International Economic Forum agenda. For example, the SPIEF’s business program will feature the ‘Arctic: Territory of Dialogue forum focused on responsible governance in the Arctic to ensure sustainable development. “Discussions will present new solutions for the key issues in the development of the Russian Arctic. Such as improving the quality of life for the region’s population, developing the Northern Sea Route and the infrastructure, climate change and environmental protection”, stressed Anton Kobyakov, advisor to the President of Russia, executive secretary of the organizing committee on Russia’s chairmanship in the Arctic Council.
The complete recording of the briefing of Nikolay Korchunov, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials and Ambassador-at-Large for Arctic Cooperation of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is available at: http://pressmia.ru/pressclub/20220520/953662753.html