The Urban Environment and Technologies to Support Livelihoods in the Arctic
Comfortable living and working conditions are key to ensuring quality of life and attracting people to live in a region. Given the specific features of the Arctic, consideration needs to be given to what exactly is meant by an urban environment and Arctic urbanism in principle. What’s more, numerous settlements and industrial operations located in the northern Arctic territories are cut off from other regions. This affects supplies of fuel, medication, food and essential goods which are needed for people to lead their lives and for businesses to develop – essential factors when it comes to identifying new solutions and developing technologies and innovations capable of making places safe and self-sufficient. How should a town in the Arctic be designed, and what successful cases of improving urban amenities in the region exist? Is it possible to make settlements and enterprises safe and self sufficient? What steps need to be taken, both now and in the future, to create a comfortable environment for the population?
Digitization and the Future of Connectivity in the Arctic
An objective has been set for the Russian economy to undergo a digital transformation, which will in part involve building an IT infrastructure. The environmental conditions of the Arctic make it ideal for building data centres capable of processing and storing huge amounts of data needed by government bodies and private companies. In addition, the development of geoinformation services is continuing apace. These will enable regions and business activity to be better managed, and infrastructure facilities to be monitored for changes. They will also provide new opportunities to search for mineral resources. At the same time, the lack of connectivity in some regions of the Arctic is continuing to lead to digital inequality among the population, and is hindering the development of local businesses. What can be done to ensure that the Arctic is not left by the wayside during efforts to completely digitize the economy and state? What initiatives are under way to achieve the primary goal of providing affordable and stable internet connectivity to people in the Arctic? Can the climatic advantages offered by the region be leveraged today to develop new industries? What form will the Arctic’s information and telecommunications infrastructure take in the near future?
Next-Generation Healthcare in the Arctic
The provision of high-quality healthcare is a fundamental priority. However, settlements can be hard to access, the region suffers from a personnel deficit, and there is a lack of vital equipment, specialized medical devices, and air-ambulance infrastructure. These are just a few of the issues that require immediate attention. Today, telemedicine is considered to be one possible solution in global healthcare. In Russia there are plans to elevate this model to a whole new level by training a new generation of specialists, drawing up relevant regulatory acts, introducing technology, and building infrastructure. Innovative technology must not only be applied in healthcare, but also in methods of studying health and environmental wellbeing for people living in the Arctic in order to increase the effectiveness of the policy. What other challenges is healthcare in the Arctic facing? What steps must be taken to maintain and improve the health of people in the Arctic? By supporting doctors and patients, will telemedicine provide a solution to at least some of the issues which have accumulated? Can standards of so called ‘Economical Clinics’ be applied in the region?
Aircraft First: Developing the Aviation Sector in the Arctic
The establishment of permanent air links is key to the development of the Arctic’s transport infrastructure. As well as developing a network of airfields, separate attention needs to be paid to creating an aviation fleet. This will involve the development of promising types of aircraft which will meet the needs of small-scale regional aviation. Some of these need to be capable of operating on unpaved airfields, while others will be ground-effect vehicles and seaplanes. Satellite navigation is not without its challenges too, although Russia is planning to achieve full satellite coverage for the Arctic in the near future. How can the polar aviation sector be revitalized and taken to the next level? Is the Russian aviation industry able to satisfy the demands of the Arctic? Will it be possible to provide small and medium sized airlines with access to these regions in order to run commercial flights using light aircraft, provided they pass full safety inspections and undergo certification?
A Warm Welcome: The Tourist Potential of the Arctic
Tourism offers huge opportunities for the Arctic, and can make a major contribution to regional development. It can help boost businesses and create new jobs. Other byproducts of a developed tourist industry include the construction of social infrastructure facilities, better education, and popularizing the region’s cultural and natural heritage. However, there needs to be an assessment of the real effect of developing the industry in the Arctic at this moment in time, and mechanisms need to be in place to ensure it continues to develop along the right path. Tourism can have a negative impact. For example, if tourists fail to act responsibly, they may damage the surrounding environment, and tourism as a whole has the potential to completely alter traditional local economies. What forms of tourism could be developed most successfully in the region, and what economic effect will they have? When the development of tourist areas has a negative impact on the environment and lives of the local population, how can this be counteracted? What can be done to avoid a lopsided economy caused by tourist regions?
Talking Barents: Prospects and Formats for Cooperation
Collaboration in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region has reached unparalleled heights, both at the intergovernmental and regional levels. Since it was founded, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) has consolidated its position as an effective international cooperation body which remains unaffected by ongoing changes in the geopolitical environment, and makes a tangible contribution to improving people’s quality of life in the region. Projects are being implemented in the region, in which all parties work together to achieve strategic objectives for BEAC member states. One of the key aspects of the Barents Region Transport and Logistics project is developing the transport system and improving its efficiency. It also makes provisions to protect the environment through the creation of ‘green transport’ corridors. Twenty-five years of collaboration in Northern Europe has resulted in the creation of a stable zone of trust and open, constructive dialogue, which continues to this day. What are the priorities for cross border cooperation in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region today? What projects could be implemented by working together?
Russia’s Support for Private Investment in the Arctic: A New Approach
More than 100 investment projects worth more than USD 130 billion have been initiated in the Russian Arctic. Together they encompass natural resource production, forestry and fisheries, developing sea ports, and railway infrastructure. Less than half of these have reached the active implementation stage. Conditions for investing and doing business in the Arctic are tougher, and the risks and costs involved are higher than in the rest of Russia. Access to advanced technology for working in Arctic conditions is limited. However, realizing the investment potential of the Arctic could lead to a breakthrough in Russia’s overall economic development. What needs to be done to unlock the investment potential of the region and win over investors? How will the new incentive system for investment projects in the Arctic look?
Small Business, Big Potential
Running a small or medium-sized business in the Arctic brings its own challenges, which the government needs to take into consideration when creating (primarily at the regional level) a policy to support them. For a small business in the region to be competitive, the requisite infrastructure needs to be in place, and it needs to be of a high quality. This encompasses support for logistics, roads, an electric grid, utilities, and air/port access for supplies. It also depends on government regulation in areas such as rates for electrical power and hardship allowances. An individual approach is required in single-industry towns in the Arctic, where small and medium business provide a way to solve issues connected to employment and diversifying local economies. How can people living in the region be encouraged to start their own businesses? What can be done to engage the interest of young people, thereby reducing migration? What forms of support should be made available to small and medium business in the Arctic? What should be done to make SMEs in the Arctic more competitive? How can SMEs get involved in infrastructure projects?
Construction in the North: Longevity and Durability
The Arctic is a region of strategic importance to Russia. Consequently, large-scale projects to modernize and reconstruct social, industrial, residential, transport, and other infrastructure require new construction regulations which take into account the harsh conditions of the permafrost. The huge man-made impact on Arctic temperatures and the environment is leading an increased risk of buildings deteriorating or collapsing. Work will continue in 2019 to update the regulatory framework governing construction in Russia. This will primarily concern the use of new materials and technology. How should the regulatory framework governing design and construction in the Arctic look? What modern construction materials and technologies could be used to improve efficiency and lower operating costs? What should be done to organize a monitoring system for the constantly changing conditions of the permafrost?
The Open Ocean
The Northern Sea Route – The Key to the Development of the Russian Arctic
The Northern Sea Route is the most direct transport corridor linking Asia and Europe. It is also a core Arctic economic project for Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has set a goal of increasing freight traffic from 20 million tonnes to 80 million tonnes in five years. Plans to develop the Northern Sea Route and support shipping envisage the creation of a port infrastructure and a fleet which includes icebreakers. These plans must be in sync with other plans to develop Arctic regions, centres of economic growth, and other forms of transport. What’s more, the Northern Sea Route is a major, multifunctional transport and logistics project, which means that modern management methods are needed. Issues regarding navigational and hydrographic support, and ensuring shipping safety along the Northern Sea Route are also of key consideration. Meteorological, hydrological and ice-related services are being developed and implemented, and inroads are being made in a number of other areas. These include promising radio communications setups for rescue operations, pilotless aircraft to conduct monitoring and ice patrol operations, and GIS. What are the prospects for expanding the logistics potential of the Northern Sea Route? How can the development of the Northern Sea Route’s infrastructure be synchronized with new investment projects? How can the Northern Sea Route be integrated with the region’s infrastructure network? How can safe and year-round navigation along the Northern Sea Route be ensured?
The Open Ocean
Shipbuilding: Achievements and Innovation
Russia’s civil maritime fleet in the Arctic has grown noticeably in recent years. However, shipbuilding needs to continue in order to increase the amount of freight transported along the Northern Sea Route. The industry also needs to provide vessels for ice escort, navigation technical support, rescue operations, fishing, and cruise travel. Particular attention has been given to constructing a fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers in order to increase opportunities for commercial navigation in the Russian Arctic. Four LNG-powered icebreakers are planned to be constructed by 2024, enabling year-round commodity shipments to be made from the port of Sabetta. A number of promising advancements are currently under development. These include engines powered on cheaper and more environmentally friendly forms of fuel, materials and constructions, on-board systems, and technology which will help protect vessels from ice and reduce the overall impact of ice. Work is also under way in innovative areas such as autonomous and remote control of large vessels in order to transport hazardous freight and lower transportation costs. How will the arctic maritime fleet look in the near future? What innovations and technologies in shipbuilding could already be introduced? What best international practices could be applied in Russia?
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Production and Use of LNG in the Arctic
Liquified natural gas is one of the gas industry’s most promising markets. The launch of LNG projects on the Yamal Peninsula is providing Russia with a genuine chance of becoming one of the world leaders in the market. In fact, LNG is expected to make up half of the total amount of freight transported along the Northern Sea Route. In addition, work is under way to develop technologies which will lead to a reduction in capital expenditure and the creation of a technological base for LNG projects in Russia. Which projects in this field are of international significance, and what steps are needed to implement them? What impact are these projects having on the region’s economy? How can LNG production be rolled out in the Russian Arctic? What potential is there for the localization of large-capacity LNG liquefaction technology?
The Open Ocean
Arctic Shelf Development: The Potential and the Risks
Hydrocarbon prospecting and production is an area of strategic importance for the commercial development of the Arctic, given the huge potential of the basins of the continental shelf. It is an also an area which comes with a high degree of economic risk, but is nevertheless crucial for replenishing the nation’s natural resource base and for the development of the Arctic. The development of offshore fields in the Arctic requires new technology and equipment, as well as geological prospecting work. All this translates to a significant investment of time and money. It therefore depends on close collaboration between extraction companies in Russia and international partners. The situation is complicated by the fact that various companies are in need of essentially unique technological solutions. What barriers are hindering the development of the shelf, and how feasible is it to remove them? What incentives could be put in place for the private sector to become more involved in geological prospecting work on the shelf?
The Open Ocean
Developing Port Infrastructure in the North
In line with increasing volumes of domestic and international freight, plans are in place to increase the capacity of sea ports in the Russian Arctic. This will primarily concern transport of hydrocarbons, coal, ores, and metals. A number of ports in the Arctic offer potential, including Sabetta, Lavna, Vykhodnoy, Kola, Dudinka, Dikson, Indiga, and Kandalaksha, amongst others. However, not all of them have been included in the comprehensive plan to expand and modernize transport infrastructure by 2024. Consensus has yet to be reached in the expert community or government as to which ports could be characterized as key hubs for the development of freight transport along the Northern Sea Route, ensuring safe navigation, and providing supplies to the North. What might be the consequences of increasing trans-shipment volumes in the Arctic basin? How can technological effectiveness and safety be ensured in the functioning of port infrastructure? What support measures for ports in the Arctic need to be introduced today? Might it be possible to apply free port status to key locations, as per Vladivostok?
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Transport Connectivity: The Arctic, Far East, Siberia, and the Urals
Transport connectivity is of major importance for the development of the transport system in the Arctic. It can help achieve regional integration and provide for the needs of the local population, business, rescue services, research expeditions, and tourism. The development of provincial transport links will make settlements more accessible and facilitate the transportation of industrial goods, including those carried by international freight dispatchers. In order to create a new model for economic growth in Russia and ensure quality of life, it is crucial to build transport links between the Arctic, Siberia, the Urals, and the Far East. How can effective transport links between macroregions be put in place? What other projects in this area are of strategic importance? How can provincial transport links be connected to key routes? Are there any opportunities to optimize intermodal transport in the Arctic?
The Open Ocean
Limitless Opportunities: Ensuring the Rational Use of the World Ocean’s Natural Riches
Throughout history, the seas and oceans have played a vital role in trade between nations and boosting development. The World Ocean’s resources offer huge potential for the oil and gas sector, as well as mining. Today, no more than 20% of the world’s total mineral deposits can be found on land. The remaining 80% is provided by the ocean. However, current trends indicate that the ecosystem of the World Ocean is deteriorating. Coastal waters are suffering due to mankind’s actions, including the increasing exploitation of the ocean’s riches. Environmental considerations related to the seabed have become more pressing, especially in the wake of numerous disasters, including on the Gulf of Mexico. All nations – Russia included – have raised their technological safety requirements for projects in order to better manage environmental risks. The desire to preserve the ecosystem has also led to more stringent requirements as to when exactly work may take place. How should a system ensuring the sustainable use of ocean resources look? What measures should be taken to preserve and replenish natural riches? What role should collaboration between nations and scientific communities play?
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Key Aspects of Promising Areas of the Arctic Fishing Industry
Traditionally, fishing continues to be one of the key industries in the economy of the Arctic regions. Modern conditions dictate the need for taking a more prudent attitude towards the industry and a more rational, economic approach to fish processing, for a transition to products with high added value, and for the need for high-tech production methods, including on ships, during fishing. The development of industrial aquaculture in the Arctic region requires separate consideration. Promising areas include the development of marine terminals for integrated servicing of fishing vessels, improving port infrastructure, and the ability to deliver fish and fish products from the Far East along the Northern Sea Route. How may we preserve the unique northern territories, where fishing is the main kind of work available? What types of state support are relevant to the Arctic territories, and which of these are the most effective? What is needed in order to preserve the biodiversity of the Arctic seas, sustainable fishing, and aquaculture? What kinds of modern technologies may be used in new fishing vessels, for the development of aquaculture, and in the construction of fish processing plants in the northern territories? What are the prospects for the Northern Sea Route for the delivery of fish products? How may the attractiveness of Arctic fish ports be increased?
Nature-Like Technologies to Meet the Needs of the Arctic
Today, the Arctic is a region of partnership in the field of nature-like technologies. As a result of interdisciplinary research, they are paving the way for environmentally friendly and autonomous sources of nuclear and alternative energy, cold-resistant and biohybrid functional materials, and technologies which can be used in waste disposal and land rehabilitation in the Arctic. What can be done to ensure the sustainable development of the Arctic though the use of nature-like technologies in energy generation and consumption? What are the prospects for innovative solutions in energy and biotechnology which could result in regions becoming self-sufficient, primarily through the use of small nuclear power plants, renewable energy sources, and food provision technology? What new materials and plasma technologies could be used for waste processing in the Arctic? What could be done in this area to rehabilitate regions of the Arctic?
A Responsible Approach to Energy in the Arctic
The use of alternative sources of energy in the Arctic is determining the competitiveness of an entire range of industries. As a result, it has become a key topic at leading international discussion platforms. A number of projects are in place to optimize supplies to the North and lower the impact on the environment. These include construction of wind farms and solar panels, and replacing isolated communities’ reliance on traditional power sources such as diesel with liquified gas and other forms of fuel. Another development has been the creation of the Arctic Renewable Energy Atlas with the support of the Arctic Council, which aims to demonstrate the potential of regional energy efficiency. These projects are already becoming economically attractive to companies in the Arctic, which are increasingly displaying a responsible attitude towards the surrounding environment. How great is the potential of renewable energy sources in the Arctic? How can energy-efficient technologies be used in the region’s business sector?
Children of the Arctic: Best Education Practices for Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic
As part of its activities within the Arctic Council (specifically, the Sustainable Development Working Group), the Russian Federation is implementing a project aimed at improving the quality of preschool education for indigenous peoples in the Arctic and subarctic. This project has drawn upon successful experience in further education. It seeks to improve the sharing of information between Arctic Council member states, analyse the most effective educational programmes and projects in partnership with the expert community and relevant non-profit organizations, prepare the minimum educational content for initiatives such as nomadic schools, and improve data collation processes as a whole. This project spearheaded by Russia is being supported by Finland and Canada as partners in the Sustainable Development Working Group. What best practices in educating the children of indigenous peoples in the Arctic exist? What other steps could be taken to support school education? What social projects to support talented children are in place in the region?
The Arctic – The ‘Weather Kitchen’
The ongoing and anticipated changes (warming) in the climate of the Arctic create new challenges and new opportunities for Russia’s economy, social sphere and defense, and they require urgent adaptation efforts. In Russia, adaptation to climate change is the principal task for climate services. Countering the climate challenge requires a clear understanding of the causes, effects and prospects of climate change; in addition, it implies constant and continuous monitoring of the climate system itself, as well as assessment of climate impacts, adjustment of forecasts and monitoring the effectiveness of adaptation measures taken. Science is the key resource for adapting to climate change. When planning its adaptation, a facility (economic unit, type of economic activity or territory) does so based on scientifically proven strategies that include quantitative assessments of current and future weather and climate risks, such as current state of the climate system and future climate change scenarios, exposure and vulnerability of the facility at risk, as well as acceptable risk values based on economic and social factors.
The Agro Industry: Livestock Farming and Agriculture in the Arctic
The agricultural industry in the Arctic is demonstrating its potential to increase food security and spur local economic growth. Tomatoes are being grown in Alaska, leeks in Greenland, and barley in Norway. Livestock farming, and deer farming in particular, is another area of rapid development. The Far North possesses clear potential for greenhouse-based agriculture, and energy-efficient and environmentally friendly technology is being developed to grow plants in artificial conditions while taking into account the Arctic climate. The use of production modules for livestock and poultry products is another important area. How can holdings and livestock farms be effectively supported in the Arctic? What upcoming technologies could be applied to develop agriculture in the region?
Arctic Researchers’ Dialogue
In order to deliver effective results, the development of the Arctic must take place on a fundamentally new scientific basis. The Arctic Scientific Cooperation Agreement is one the effective mechanisms by which to achieve this. What are the specificities of implementing the agreement at a national level? What additional steps could be taken at a national and international level to develop and deepen broad-based international research of the macroregion?
Applied Research in the Arctic
Today, international scientific cooperation in the region is key for conducting research and implementing projects of global significance, which no one nation would be capable of implementing on their own. In order to develop the Arctic effectively, efforts are needed in fundamental and applied research, and the time taken to apply the resulting conclusions and recommendations needs to be as short as possible. The establishment of ties between the scientific community and the business sector is a crucial objective, as is the creation of entire research and development chains. Science diplomacy in Arctic research and projects is no mere slogan, but a vital necessity. How are the results of applied research being applied today for the needs of companies operating in the real sector? What opportunities exist to strengthen ties between science and research organizations in the macroregion? Can the Arctic serve as a platform to unite the global scientific community?
National Projects in the Russian Arctic: Implementation Mechanisms
The interests of the Arctic are not only reflected in the comprehensive plan to expand and modernize transport infrastructure by 2024. The geo-strategic importance that Russian places on the macroregion has led to it occupying a special place in 12 national projects set out by President Vladimir Putin. These cover demography, healthcare, education, housing and the urban environment, ecology, safe and high-quality roads, workforce productivity and supporting employment, science, the digital economy, culture, small and medium enterprise, and international cooperation and exports. What measures do the national projects set out for regions in the Arctic? How will they affect the region’s economy and quality of life? Are these measures sufficient, or are additional resources required?
Training Specialists to Achieve Growth in the Region
A transition to digital technologies is under way, and new specialisms are emerging accordingly. The development of innovations is making employers raise their requirements for job candidates, and they have expressed their desire for training programmes to be put in place which no educational institution currently offers. What’s more, the macroregion’s unique environment brings with it its own requirements. As the need for certain professions arises, so the need for others disappears. Companies are launching their own teaching departments, and corporate universities and entire further education centres are appearing. These are all aimed at meeting the personnel needs of the real sector and government bodies, and increasing workforce productivity. For their part, candidates are also asking more of potential employers. What needs to be done to create a talent pool for the Arctic? What best practices in education are being applied to meet the needs of the macroregion? How can the potential of the local population be leveraged, and what career prospects exist for them today?
The Accessible Arctic: Standards, Safety, and Sustainability
The development of new territories and the implementation of promising industrial projects, including the use of digital solutions, would not be possible without the regulatory and technical support of new technologies guaranteeing the safety and quality of products and services. Differences in production processes in national standardization and conformity assessment systems make the development of international projects in remote and hard-to-reach regions more costly, requiring additional organizational, financial, and time resources. How may overcoming technical barriers through the development of common approaches within the framework of special policies and uniform standardization and conformity assessment mechanisms help in addressing the problems of Arctic development? Are real production facilities ready, when entering this difficult market, to be competitive, and at what expense? Who and how should create the rules of the game where there are none? How may a highly sought-after infrastructure be built for the improvement of environmental sustainability and in order to create a comfortable environment for work and life in the Arctic?