Development of Arctic Cities to Be Discussed as Part of Events during Russia’s Chairmanship of Arctic Council
The development of Arctic cities and a comfortable urban environment in the Far North will be discussed as part of the events that the Roscongress Foundation will hold during Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023.
“The Arctic accounts for almost a third of Russia’s territory and is home to more than 2.5 million people. As such, the state is implementing an integrated and comprehensive development programme in the region, which prioritizes work to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of residents. The Concept of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council shows that creating conditions to improve the quality of life of the region’s population, including Indigenous Peoples, largely shapes the sustainable development of the Arctic territories,” said Anton Kobyakov, an advisor to the Russian president and executive secretary of the Organizing Committee in charge of preparing for and supporting Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
This is an important issue given the specifics of developing urban settlements in the region and the high level of urbanization in the Arctic itself. At present, urban residents make up 89% of the population in the Russian Arctic. The Far North is home to 90 cities and urban-type settlements. However, roughly 50% of the Arctic region’s inhabitants cite the poor quality of the urban environment as a possible reason for leaving the region.
“There are nine cities beyond the Arctic Circle with a population of more than 100,000 people. Six of them are in Russia. By Arctic standards, such cities as Murmansk and Arkhangelsk are megacities. This is why urban development is a priority. Respectable social infrastructure, cultural, and sports facilities are already being built here, along with an urban environment and public amenities. We will only be intensifying work in this regard,” Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic Alexey Chekunkov said.
The Information and Analytical Centre of the State Commission for the Development of the Arctic, along with the Institute of Regional Consulting, conducted the first ever analysis of all Arctic settlements in Russia with a population of more than 500 people based on 57 different indicators, including the location of medical and educational organizations, logistics infrastructure, and proximity to licensed mining areas. The study identified 158 key settlements in the Russian Arctic. The results of the study will make it possible to develop and extend state support measures for these settlements in a more targeted manner.
The Comprehensive Plan for the Socioeconomic Development of Norilsk until 2035, which the Russian government approved in December 2021, is a pilot project for the development of key settlements in the Russian Arctic.
Norilsk is the third most populated city in the Russian Arctic and one of the country’s largest industrial centres. The plan calls for building more than 70 modern apartment buildings, two childcare centres, a school, and a clinic in the city as well as overhauling a building that will serve as a social services centre for local citizens. More than 40 buildings in disrepair will also be demolished. Significant attention will be paid to improvements to courtyards and public areas as well as the modernization of utility and engineering infrastructure facilities. These measures will carry a price tag of approximately RUB 120 billion.
One major focus to improve people’s quality of life in the Arctic is to develop a comfortable urban environment. At present, the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic, along with the Russian Ministry of Construction, are working on drafting an ‘Arctic Standard’ to develop the urban environment and improve public and courtyard spaces in Arctic settlements. In late 2021, the Information and Analytical Centre of the State Commission for the Development of the Arctic implemented two projects that aim to develop a comfortable urban environment as part of the ‘Arctic Standard’.
One of the projects – a design code for Arctic settlements – consists of a set of documents that govern the appearance of the urban environment, including standards for facades, lighting, navigation as well as advertising and information structures.
The government has also created the online platform ‘Library of Best Practices for the Development and Improvement of the Environment of Arctic Settlements’, which presents the best architectural planning solutions and modern technologies for construction projects in the Arctic in such areas as urban planning, housing, landscaping, engineering solutions, ecology, social facilities, and transport.
One of the priorities of Russia’s chairmanship is to develop human capital in the Arctic. To this end, Russia intends to provide incentives for the creation of a modern urban environment in Arctic settlements, expand the availability of quality education, and improve the healthcare system and infrastructure, including through the widespread use of mobile and satellite communications. These issues will be discussed in detail at the ‘Conference on Ensuring a Comfortable Urban Environment in the Arctic’ in Yakutsk on 23–25 May 2022 as part of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
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