The X International Forum

Arctic: today and the future

December 10-12, 2020, SAINT PETERSBURG

The X International Forum Arctic: Today and the Future has completed its work


The X International Forum Arctic: Today and the Future has completed its work

Despite the difficult epidemic situation, the organizers managed to maintain the wide range of discussion agenda that has become the signature of the event and attract a representative expert community to discuss the development of the Russian Arctic.

29 business events took place on the fields of the Forum, organized by the Association of Polar Explorers, Interregional Public Organization. More than 2500 people from 70 regions of Russia participated, while no more than 500 people have been at the Forum at the same time. A significant part of the expert community has  joined the discussion of current  issues of the Arctic Region development via conference mode. This made it possible to maintain the traditionally extensive scope of the discussion agenda and comply with the epidemiological safety measures.

The plenary session "Priorities of State Policy in the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation" was opened with welcoming speech of Dmitry Medvedev, Head of the Interdepartmental Commission of the Russian Security Council on National Interests of Russia in the Arctic, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council. "Over the past decade, the Forum has gained wide public support and brought together all the specialists who are involved in solving the problems associated with the development of the Arctic", he said.

He was supported by President of Association of Polar Explorers Artur Chilingarov: "Without exaggeration we can say that for the past ten years the Forum has become the largest non-governmental platform for discussion of the problems of the Russian North".

A draft law on the creation of preferential tax regime for the development of the Arctic shelf has been submitted to the Russian government, said First Deputy Minister for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic Alexander Krutikov. "The special economic regime in the Arctic is also aimed at the development of small businesses, as it proposes reduced insurance premiums, income tax benefits, and reduced tax under the simplified taxation system. In total, 33 investment projects amounting ₽178 billion are being implemented on the territory of the Russian Arctic, and by the end of the year there will be at least 50 residents", he stressed.

"Along with the economic development, social development is also important for the Arctic. New cities and residents will the Arctic zone to grow qualitatively, so we need to provide, first of all, comfortable living conditions", said Igor Ananskikh, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, at the abovementioned plenary session.

Vladimir Panov, deputy chairman of the State Commission on the Development of the Arctic and special representative of Rosatom State Corporation, said that in the medium term, Russia will have the largest icebreaker fleet in the Arctic. "We are creating the most modern nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet in the world. There are five operating icebreakers, four Project 22220 icebreakers are under construction, as well as a unique Leader nuclear icebreaker", he reported.

The outflow of people from the Arctic regions is possible only with the help of the federal authorities, said Nikolai Kharitonov, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Regional Policy and Problems of the North and the Far East. "Creating comfortable living and working conditions is primarily a task for the federal center," he said.

Protection of national interests of Russia in the Arctic is part of the state policy, prescribed as a separate item in the presidential decree "On the basis of public policy of Russia in the Arctic for the period up to 2035". The Chief of Staff of the Northern Fleet Vladimir Grishechkin reminded about it.

During the plenary session of the first day, an online conversation with children from the Arctic regions of Russia was held. The children have spoken with the representatives of the authorities who works for the development of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation. Children were mostly concerned about the modernization of social infrastructure, ensuring uninterrupted communication and Internet coverage, the environment, opportunities for international cooperation and exchange for schoolchildren, volunteers and students, as well as expanding opportunities for self-fulfillment of the Arctic residents.

The plenary session of the second day was focused on the regional agenda. Heads of the Arctic regions presented their reports via videoconferencing, while the Vice-Governor of St. Petersburg Eduard Batanov had attended the event in person. He announced that despite the difficult year, the businessmen from St. Petersburg managed to conclude significant contracts with representatives of the Arctic businesses. "The website of St. Petersburg Committee on the Arctic will publish information about enterprises working for the development of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation. Our task is to introduce the businesses one to another and give them an opportunity to cooperate", he emphasized.

Economic activities should be organized in such a way as to minimize environmental risks. Andrey Grachev, Vice President of MMC Norilsk Nickel, started his speech with this. "The Company has learned the lessons from the recent environmental incident and has substantially revised its approaches to environmental risk management. ₽250 billion are to be invested in projects aimed at reducing the negative impact on the environment, while another ₽100 billion will improve the industrial safety system".  

The common thread of the business program was the discussion of preparations for Russia's chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 2021 to 2023.  "We are looking forward to Russia's chairmanship of the council. Sweden is ready to cooperate with the Russian Federation on all the necessary issues", noted the Ambassador of Sweden Louise Calais. She was supported by Minister Plenipotentiary of the Embassy of Finland Marja Koskela. The discussion was moderated by Anton Vasiliev, Head of the ASPOL Commission for International Cooperation and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Iceland in 2014-2020.   

The same issue was raised during the special event: meeting of the Committee of Regional Coordinators of the Northern Forum.

Mikhail Bryukhanov, Deputy Head of Rossotrudnichestvo, said that the agency has scheduled more than two hundred international events for 2021-2022. "The main topics will be intercultural interaction, youth cooperation, support for the culture of indigenous peoples, as well as the promotion of the investment potential of Russian regions on international platforms", he stated.

On December 11 the forum venue hosted the Congress of the Association of Polar Explorers. Delegates of the congress approved the Board and unanimously re-elected Artur Chilingarov, Hero of the Soviet Union and Hero of Russia, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on International Cooperation in the Arctic and Antarctic as President of the Association for the next 4 years.

An agreenment on cooperation between the Government of St. Petersburg and Murmansk State Technical University and St. Petersburg Federal Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences was signed on the sidelines of the Forum. The subject of the agreements is collaboration in the development of scientific and socio-economic relations between the Northern Capital and the Arctic regions.

For two days in the exposition space of the Forum a large-scale thematic exhibition worked. The latest technical developments and achievements for the Russian Arctic were presented by leading Russian companies and research institutes, as well as by the specialists of the Arctic regions.

The forum ended with a cultural program, which included an online Arctic cinema for the participants.

The outcome of the Forum will result as a resolution with the initiatives of all the participants. It will be sent to the profile committees of the Federation Council, the State Duma, the Government of the Russian Federation, the State Commission for Arctic Development to improve legislation and state regulation in the field of sustainable development of the Russian Arctic zone.

MMC Norilsk Nickel, PJSC has supported the Forum as a general partner. Novatek, PJSC became a partner of the Forum. MegaFon, PJSC, Rosneft Oil Company, PJSC,  Supertel, OJSC became the partners of the sections.  Russia Today International news agency and TASS Russian information agency acted as general information partners. 

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