New Delhi, November 2022.
Russian students took part in the International Youth Model of the Arctic Council (MAC), an experimental educational discussion platform that aims to simulate the processes of interaction within the working groups of the Arctic Council and come up with scenarios for the further development of a dialogue in the Arctic. The event took place on 14–18 November 2022 in Arkhangelsk as part of the plan of events of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council, which are managed by the Roscongress Foundation.
“Despite the current state of affairs, the human dimension remains a top priority in the current situation for us, in addition to work to improve the well-being, health, and quality of life of the entire Arctic population, including its Indigenous peoples, to ensure access to education, as well as to support youth contacts and initiatives. I am certain that holding such business games will contribute to the development of youth cooperation in high latitudes and enhancing the level of expertise and skills of young leaders, who are the future leaders of the Arctic,” Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Arctic Senior Officials Nikolay Korchunov said.
The International Youth MAC takes place every two years at one of the universities in the country that chairs the Arctic Council. This year, Northern (Arctic) Federal University (NArFU) hosted students from various Russian regions. As part of the MAC, the future specialists simulated the process of interaction within the working groups of the Arctic Council and came up with scenarios to further develop a dialogue in the Arctic. The game-based goal of the MAC was to approve the reports by working groups and joint action projects proposed by university students at the final ministerial session of the Arctic Council. The participants, which included students from 25 Russian universities, discussed ways to preserve the Arctic environment, adapt local communities to changing conditions, and develop transport and logistics networks, as well as international cooperation and scientific diplomacy.
“We are focused on the balanced combination of developing the northern territories in economic, social, and environmental aspects. We are open to international cooperation and the joint implementation of comprehensive scientific research programmes in the Arctic. The business game format will enable the participants to discuss topical issues and demonstrate their vision of how the Arctic can and should develop. Teamwork by the young scientists will facilitate the search for new effective solutions and increase the level of expertise and skills of future leaders in the Arctic, and an open, meaningful dialogue will make an important contribution to the development of international cooperation. Scientific diplomacy is more important than ever for our country and each of us,” Soslan Abisalov, Director of the Department for the Development of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation and the Implementation of Infrastructure Projects of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic, said in his welcoming speech to the participants.
The programme of the International Youth MAC included plenary lectures and meetings during which students expanded their knowledge about the Arctic Council’s activities. On the first day of the event, the students also heard presentations from foreign lecturers: Li Hao, a professor at the School of Global Management and Beijing University of Technology, spoke about China’s interests in the Arctic and Beijing’s status in the Arctic Council, while Anurag Bisen, a research fellow at the Research Institute in New Delhi, commented on India’s interests in the Arctic.
“First of all, cooperation between Russia and China is focused on science: the Arctic is a unique natural area, and there is a lot of space for research in which China could participate. Second, environmental protection. Third, economic interaction: due to climate change, the world needs new technologies that will help to utilize both the potential of navigation in the Arctic and the natural resources available there. We would like this region to be distinguished by peace and security,” Li told the students.
“Promising areas for cooperation and joint scientific research in the Arctic include the climate and issues related to its change, telecommunication technologies in the polar regions, the study of melting glaciers, and the creation of various climate models,” Bisen said.
In addition, leading experts from NArFU and the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences gave lectures to the MAC participants. The event was organized by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Russia is the chair of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023. As chair, Russia aims to promote the fulfilment of youth potential in the Arctic, ensure their access to education, as well as expand and strengthen youth exchanges in a wide range of areas, including volunteering, entrepreneurship, the development of creative industries, the environment, and the improvement of urban areas. Russia supports the Arctic Council’s educational projects for Indigenous children ‘Children of the Arctic’, ‘Nomadic School’, and ‘International Arctic School’, among others, while advocating for the development of cooperation and the exchange of experience in this area. In addition, Russia is in favour of developing and implementing special programmes, professional championships, and training that focus on the country’s northern regions.