USA

On October 26-28, 2021, a working group of the Arctic Council for Sustainable Development (SDWG) will meet in Moscow to discuss SDWG projects and further work plan. The Roscongress Foundation is the operator of all events within the framework of the Russian chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Participants will discuss the progress of current projects and proposals for new ones. Among the questions: improving the sustainability of the Arctic ecosystem; preservation of the Arctic architectural heritage; assessment of the situation with COVID-19 in the Arctic and its impact on public health; digitalization of the linguistic and cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic; development of a cluster of Arctic food innovations; remote energy systems; use of hydrogen energy in the Arctic; solid waste disposal in Arctic communities; preschool and school education; gender equality; shipping, as well as the project of the international mammoth Center in Yakutia.

This is the second meeting of the working group on sustainable development during Russia's chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021-2023. The SDWG session will traditionally bring together representatives of the Arctic Council member countries (Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Norway, Russia, USA, Sweden and Finland) and observer organizations: the Arctic Athabaskan Council, the International Association of Aleuts, the International Council of Gwich'ins, the Circumpolar Council of Inuit, the Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation.

The Arctic Council member states discussed initial work to implement priorities of the newly adopted 2021-2030 Strategic Plan held at the level of senior officials.

According to the press service of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the council’s first executive meeting under the Russian Chairmanship was held in a hybrid format at the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) to the President of Russia in Moscow on June 29-30.

“During the two-day event, the Senior Arctic Officials and Permanent Participant Heads of Delegation focused on the steps to be taken to implement the Reykjavik Declaration, which was adopted by the ministers of the eight Arctic states during the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in May 2021, as well as initial work to implement the priorities of the newly adopted Strategic Plan,” the press release says.

The next meeting of the Senior Officials and a plenary session of the Arctic Council will be held in Salekhard in November 2021.

The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic Indigenous peoples and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.

In the program of the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023, Russia will use an inclusive approach to managing the Arctic region, said Nikolai Korchunov, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry for International Cooperation in the Arctic, senior official in the Arctic Council.
“For its chairmanship of the Arctic Council, the Russian Federation will rely on a strong foundation of Arctic cooperation. The presidency program is still being prepared. Russia, as the largest Arctic country, lays in its foundation the logic of a comprehensive, inclusive approach to ensuring responsible governance of the Arctic region. At its basis, we are just laying the concept of sustainable development, which implies a harmonious combination of three components - social, economic and environmental, ”said Korchunov during the International Forum“ Days of the Arctic and Antarctic in Moscow ”.
He also added that biosafety issues will also be in the focus of Russia.
“During its chairmanship in the Arctic Council, Russia will support projects to reduce emissions, solve the problem of eliminating the consequences of accumulated environmental damage to the region,” he said.
Alexander Krutikov, First Deputy Head of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, also expressed interest in resolving issues related to the consequences of climate change.
“Within the framework of the upcoming chairmanship, among the most important issues, we will jointly consider common challenges and, above all, the challenge associated with climate change. <...> This is a global challenge, the consequences of which can be minimized by the entire Arctic community. The climate agenda will be one of the key ones, and we intend to propose new formats of cooperation within the chairmanship, ”Krutikov said.
Korchunov also explained that Russia wants the Arctic to become a truly attractive region for investors. He noted that interaction of the members of the Arctic Council in the field of science is also necessary.

The project to digitalize the linguistic and cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic has been supported by the participants in a session of the Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) held in Iceland on October 27-28.

“The project is aimed at a wide target group including indigenous peoples living in the Arctic, indigenous youth, as well as those studying languages, cultures and traditional lifestyles of indigenous peoples. It will involve creating an international multicultural website on the languages, culture and food heritage of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic,” said Anatoly Zhozhikov, Head of the project and Head of the UNESCO Chair in Social and Human Adaptation of the Arctic Regions to Climate Change and Globalization at North-Eastern Federal University.

He also called for building an international team of participants from the Arctic states to study the experience that Arctic Council countries have in preserving the linguistic and cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic.

“The plan is to conduct interviews and record the speech of native speakers of the Arctic indigenous peoples' languages and bearers of traditional indigenous cultures, and to collect material from public and private archives on linguistic, cultural, historical and food heritage. It is important to involve indigenous youth in research to preserve their linguistic and cultural heritage,” he added.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov are scheduled to be in Canada in late April. It will be the Arctic, not Ukraine, that’s on their minds. Both will be in Ottawa, then Iqaluit for a meeting of the eight-nation Arctic Council, the last such get-together before the council marks its 20th anniversary next year.