The XI International Forum “The Arctic: Present and Future” has finished its work in St. Petersburg. Representatives of government, business and civil society from different countries discussed topical issues of socio-economic development of the Arctic territories, the results for the year and plans for the future. The forum program included two plenary sessions, at 52 discussion platforms, the forum participants discussed the goals and main directions of state and social policy in the Arctic. The focus is on environmental protection, the elimination of environmental damage from previous years, socio-economic development and the creation of new jobs. The scale of the forum is also evidenced by the fact that more than 400 speakers spoke at its sessions, more than 2.5 thousand people attended the event in person and in absentia.
The Arctic and everything connected with it became an extremely popular topic in the world community in the XXI centuries. The reasons for the increased attention to this region lie mainly in the economic field: high world energy prices have forced many to turn their eyes to the Arctic, where, according to expert estimates, significant oil and gas reserves are hidden. Activity here gives new impulses to projects in the field of security, transport, logistics and ecology. As a result, along with the development of natural resources and their further processing, issues such as the development of transport corridor infrastructure, security aspects, the preservation of indigenous peoples and the sustainable development of the region are of particular importance. Given the fact that the economic and political interests of Arctic states such as Russia, the USA, Canada, Finland, Norway, as well as a number of countries in the Pacific region are closely intertwined in the Arctic, their resolution will largely be determined by the further dynamics of international cooperation.
One of the most successful organizations in the world that implement international cooperation is the Arctic Council. Despite the fact that we see a huge number of problems in the international dialogue, the world community notice very productive cooperation around the implementation of the Arctic agenda within the framework of the activities of the Arctic Council. This opinion was expressed during the XI International Forum “The Arctic: Present and Future” by Anton Vasiliev, Russian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, opening the strategic session “25 years of the Arctic Council: results and plans”.
He was supported by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to Russia Alison Leclair: “The Arctic Council is an innovative organization in its structure, and there are no equivalents to it in the modern world. We always focus on dialogue and cooperation. For 25 years, the council has demonstrated its ability to maintain dialogue, develop it, and adapt to new needs and new challenges.” In addition, Alison Miller noted the important role of the International Forum “The Arctic: Present and Future” in the formation the Arctic agenda.
An important role in the Arctic is played by the cooperation of states in the field of preserving the culture, traditional knowledge and lifestyle of indigenous peoples living in the region. As the Consul General of Finland in St. Petersburg, Sannamaaria Vanamo, noted at the forum: “on the international agenda, when it comes to rich cultural programs in the North, in the Arctic territories, Finland often holds international meetings at which art, traditional economy, music and crafts are presented.” At least the representative of the Republic of Finland could not answer about the number of the Sami population living on its territory and questions about the preservation of the language of this small nation, Sannamaaria Vanamo said that cultural programs for the Finnish Sami are very interesting, as is the experience of Russia in this area. The Consul General of Finland also expressed hope for the participation of the Finnish side and indigenous peoples in the upcoming championship on traditional reindeer husbandry in Russian Yakutia, scheduled for 2023.
Norway also noted the high level of organization of the international forum. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Norway to Russia Rune Resaland expressed gratitude to the Forum and its organizers: “As a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I want to express our gratitude for the fact that this Forum is always perfectly organized. It has become a very important international platform for solving problems and issues in the Arctic. We are united by the same goals, the same values, just like the members of the Arctic Council. Such consolidation has shown its effectiveness. This policy in the Arctic does not change with time.”
Today’s attention to the activities of the Arctic states demonstrates that the world understands the importance of the changes that are taking place in the region. The increase in the number of projects being implemented and their scale objectively require the improvement of international cooperation in the Arctic and the holding of events such as the Arctic: Present and Future forum will contribute to strengthening mutual trust between countries, as well as solving acute current problems in the circumpolar region.