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‘Think Arctic – Think Global’ Project Sessions at EEF Address Prospects for Arctic International Cooperation

9 September 2022
Перспективы международного взаимодействия в Арктике обсудили на сессиях проекта Think Arctic — Think Global в рамках ВЭФ

Experts from five countries discussed the development of international cooperation in the Arctic and possible areas for cooperation considering the current geopolitical situation at the ‘Eastern Dimension of International Cooperation in the Arctic’ session of the ‘Think Arctic – Think Global’ project, which took place during the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF). The project is being implemented as part of the plan of events of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023, which are being organized by the Roscongress Foundation.

“Environmental and climate agenda issues, including the problems of permafrost degradation and biodiversity conservation, hold an important place in key areas of cooperation with our Eastern partners. As Asian markets develop, the role of the Arctic region, which is rich in strategically important resources and materials that are in demand for the global energy transition, is increasing. The importance of sustainable shipping in the Arctic is also growing. In this context, the development of the Northern Sea Route is becoming increasingly relevant. The Russian Federation is also interested in intensifying cooperation on joint infrastructure projects, including in energy and carbon-free energy,” said Nikolay Korchunov, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials.

Wang Wen, the executive dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, noted that China’s goal in the Arctic region is to get governments of countries from the region involved in joint activities and build a community for the sustainable development of the Arctic.

“For China, the Arctic is gradually becoming more and more important. The Arctic’s climatic system is very sensitive to any changes and has an influence on the climate of northern China. We have extensive experience in joint research in this area, and we would like to take advantage of this. The melting of ice is becoming an increasingly significant factor,” Wen said.

Glenn Diesen, a professor at the Department of Business, History, and Social Sciences at the University of Southeast Norway, noted that Oslo’s policy had previously been based on finding a balance between Russia and Western countries. Despite the current situation on the European continent, Norway wants to have good relations with Russia, he said.

“Russia’s trend of pivoting to the East will be felt in the Arctic simply because there is multipolarity. Western countries are imposing sanctions on Russia, while they themselves are losing a large export market. Similar processes will be observed in the Arctic region. Russia needs to diversify, and this is precisely what is dictating its actions, in particular, as it develops cooperation with China. The current state of relations between Russia and the West is having a negative impact on the economy. We want to focus on the Arctic and move cooperation with Moscow beyond geopolitics. The Arctic is a point of contact and a point of cooperation,” Diesen said.

Hide Sakaguchi, president of the Ocean Policy Research Institute at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, said the development of hydrogen energy is one of the priority areas for joint scientific work between Russia and Japan. 

“We want to live in a sustainable world. This is precisely why we need to overcome the problems that people living in the Arctic currently face. They cannot be overcome without cooperation with Russia. That is why I came here from Japan,” Sakaguchi said.

The session ‘Eastern Dimension of International Cooperation in the Arctic’ was also attended by Taisuke Abiru, a senior research fellow in the security studies programme at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation; Artem Lukin, an associate professor in the Department of International Relations at Far Eastern Federal University; Satish Soni, an officer in the Indian Navy (1976–2016) and commander-in-chief of the Indian South and East Naval Commands (2012–2016); and B.K. Sharma, director of India’s United Service Institution.

The event programme of the ‘Think Arctic – Think Global’ project at the EEF 2022 continued with a discussion of specific opportunities for developing cooperation between Russia and South Asia countries in the Arctic. The session ‘The Global Impact of the Russian Arctic: Opportunities for South Asia’ was attended by Artyom Lukin, B.K. Sharma, and Anastasia Likhacheva, dean of the Faculty of World Economy and World Politics at the National Research University Higher School of Economics.

The ‘Think Arctic – Think Global’ project is being implemented jointly by the Roscongress Foundation and the Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the National Research University Higher School of Economics and as part of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023.

The comprehensive programme of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council aims to promote cooperation in an effort to improve the well-being and quality of life of the Arctic population, including the Indigenous peoples of the North, adapt the region to the effects of climate change, preserve Arctic biodiversity and unique ecosystems, ensure socioeconomic development, find solutions to problems with global energy and transport security, promote scientific cooperation in high latitudes, and strengthen the Arctic Council.