International Arctic Forum in Arkhangelsk hosts more than 2,400 participants from around the globe
The 4th International Arctic Forum – ‘Arctic: Territory of Dialogue’ took place in Arkhangelsk on March 29–30, 2017, with the support of the State Commission for Arctic Development. The Forum was first held in 2010 and is a major platform for discussing topical issues and prospects for the development of the Arctic region with international partners.
The Forum was attended by more than 2,400 participants, including 468 media representatives from Russia and 31 other countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Cyprus, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the Republic of Abkhazia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Vietnam.
Government and business representatives, as well as experts in various fields, all took part in the Forum.
The keystone of the Forum was the plenary session, based around a central theme of ‘People and the Arctic’ and attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, President of Finland Sauli Niinistö, and President of Iceland Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson.
“Today, the significance of the Arctic continues to grow rapidly. It has become the focus of intense scrutiny among nations and peoples, both as a region on whose wellbeing the climate of the planet largely depends, and as a treasure trove of unique natural phenomena. It is also, of course, a territory which offers enormous scope for development and has huge economic potential”, said the Russian President in his welcoming address to the assembled guests and Forum participants, later adding: “Russia is open to constructive dialogue and is ensuring that the conditions are in place to allow it to develop effectively. We have an extremely broad economic programme for the Arctic, calculated for many years ahead. This includes more than 150 investment projects worth trillions of roubles.”
The Forum’s business programme included 20 events, including the opening ceremony of the 4th International Arctic Forum – ‘Arctic: Territory of Dialogue’, the plenary session ‘People and the Arctic’, and 13 themed sessions exploring four key areas:
In addition, various other special events were held on the sidelines of the Forum: the Arctic Business Forum, the Northern Forum Governors’ Meeting, a session of the State Commission for Arctic Development, the Arctic Municipalities Forum, and ‘The Arctic. Made in Russia’ International Youth Educational Forum, which is being held from March 27 to April 2, 2017 in Malye Karely, at the Vladimir Kuzin Ski Stadium.
More than 150 speakers and moderators participated in discussions and debates at the Forum, including 45 foreign participants.
The discussions focused on how to make the Arctic region a pleasant place in which to live and work, and how to ensure that the region’s environment is protected.
Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation and Chair of the State Commission for Arctic Development Dmitry Rogozin, who leads the Forum Organizing Committee, pointed out that the Forum’s central theme, ‘People and the Arctic’, and its programme of events offered an opportunity to examine these issues from multiple standpoints. “What was once the edge of the world is now becoming an attractive region in which to live and work”, he declared.
An exhibition exploring the social and economic development of the Arctic region was held throughout the Forum in the exhibition pavilion, covering an area of more than 1,400 square metres. The eight Russian regions with territory in the Arctic each had their own stand, highlighting the regional lens through which the Russian Ministry of Economic Development is plotting its project-based approach to the development of this macroregion.
Participants in the exhibition included: Arkhangelsk Region, Krasnoyarsk Territory, Murmansk Region, Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Komi Republic, St. Petersburg, Tomsk Region, Nenets Autonomous Area, Yamalo–Nenets Autonomous Area, Chukotka Autonomous Area, the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies, and Disaster Relief of the Russian Federation, and First Ore Mining Company.
Also represented at the exhibition were major companies with economic interests in the Arctic: Gazprom Neft, Rosneft, Norilsk Nickel, VostokCoal, ARMZ Uranium Holding, NOVATEK, Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill, Gazprom, Rostec, Rosgeologia, and United Shipbuilding Corporation.
In a pavilion run by the Association of World Reindeer Herders and the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry, visitors to the exhibition were able to sample the traditional cuisine of the indigenous peoples of the North.
Of particular interest was the Nenets ‘chum’, or rawhide tent, erected in front of the main entrance of Lomonosov Northern (Arctic) Federal University.
Across the Forum site could also be found thematic exhibitions presenting the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies, and Disaster Relief of the Russian Federation, First Ore Mining Company, St. Petersburg, Tomsk Region, and ‘The History of the Arctic in Ice’, as well as photographic exhibitions organized by the Russian Geographical Society, Gazprom Neft Shelf, Norilsk Nickel, and the Prirazlomnaya offshore platform.
Cutting-edge polar equipment, adapted for operations in the Arctic’s harsh climate, was on display for the duration of the Forum at the Arkhangelsk docks. This included firefighting equipment and rescue facilities and rigs.
Participants in the International Arctic Forum were treated to an extensive cultural and sporting programme featuring more than 35 events.
The cultural programme included: business excursions to the leading enterprises of Arkhangelsk Region (Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill, MRTS-Terminal, Severalmaz); a reception hosted by the Governor of Arkhangelsk Region; an evening of organ music entitled Organ Northern Lights; the opening of a book exhibition entitled The Russian North in the History of Arctic Exploration, and a presentation of publications dedicated to the history of Arctic exploration at the Arkhangelsk Regional Scientific Library.
Guests of the Forum also had the opportunity to enjoy a performance of Strastoterptsy (The Passion Bearers), inspired by the Sergei Kokovkin play, at the Arkhangelsk Youth Theatre, and to visit the Arkhangelsk College of Music to enjoy The North Rings with Russian Voices, a festival of literature and music.
The Pomorskaya Philharmonic Chamber Hall hosted a concert by the Moscow Soloists chamber orchestra and Yuri Bashmet.
There was also Voices of the Arctic, a concert featuring folk collectives from the Komi Republic, Yakutia, and the Chukotka Autonomous Area; a concert by the Khayar folk song and dance ensemble, representing the Nenets Autonomous Area; and a performance by the State Academic Northern Russian Folk Choir.
The following museums opened their doors to Forum participants and guests: the Northern Maritime Museum; the A.A. Borisov Museum of Artistic Development of the Arctic, where the star exhibit was a mammoth calf from the Yamal Peninsula which had been preserved in the permafrost; the Arkhangelsk Gostiny Dvor historical architectural complex (Arkhangelsk Regional Museum); the Arkhangelsk Museum of Fine Arts; and the E.K. Plotnikova Mansion, which featured two exhibitions: ‘Russian classical art from the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries’ and ‘Portrait in an Old Interior’.
The Forum’s sporting programme included:
- The Corporate Arctic Games, which is a fixture in the Russian Ministry of Sport’s schedule. World shooting champion Leonid Yekimov and two-time world championship canoe sprint winner Natalia Podolskaya took part in the opening ceremony for the Games and led master classes for participants in the health and fitness festival.
- ‘The Pomor Rook’ Chess Festival. During the tournament, Forum participants competed at fast chess, and had a chance to demonstrate their skills in a session with Grand Master Alexander Cherniaev.
- The ‘Bandy in Valenki 2017’ open tournament for amateur bandy teams, rounded off with a gala match between teams representing the Forum and the Government of Arkhangelsk Region. The gala match was won by the International Arctic Forum team.
Also held under the auspices of the Forum were: the 51st White Sea Games Russian Winter Sports Festival, the Russian Judo Championship for under-15s, the 17th VODNIK OPEN Russian Youth Bandy Tournament, and the Night Hockey League Regional Final.
The costs of the 4th International Arctic Forum in Arkhangelsk were met entirely from extra-budgetary funds. General partners of the International Arctic Forum 2017: Onego Shipping, Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, VostokCoal, and Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill. Official partners: Norilsk Nickel, Rostec, NOVATEK, Rosneft, Rosgeologia, United Shipbuilding Corporation, Sovfracht, and Bank Otkritie. Partners: Rosatom, Sovcomflot, Sberbank, VTB Bank, and Russian Railways. Business programme partners: Power Machines and Lukoil. Telecommunications partner: Rostelecom. Official transport partner: Mercedes-Benz.
The next Arctic-themed event will take place in 2018 as part of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
The 5th International Arctic Forum – ‘Arctic: Territory of Dialogue’ will be held in 2019.