Moscow Ready to Cooperate with Northern Rim Nations in High North

28 10 2010

Bochkarev_Danila Comment by Dr. Danila Bochkarev

Climate change is a key factor shaping the contours of international security and policy-making. This is particularly the case in the High North, where the retreating ice cap is likely to create a wide range of new opportunities and challenges.

Melting ice cover facilitates the exploitation of mineral resources and opens up access to fish stocks and new shipping routes in particular, which promise shorter distances for trade between Europe and East Asia. On the other hand, the shrinking of the Arctic’s ice cap, while increasing the region’s geopolitical and geo-economic importance significantly exacerbates its environmental fragility and threatens the traditional way of life of indigenous populations.

The melting of polar ice, resulting insignificantly raised sea levels, would have grave global environmental, economic, and human security ramifications, affecting well-being of around 800 million people around the world.
Moscow is by far the major regional player in the Arctic. With significant deposits of mineral resources and fish stocks, Russia’s key economic interests are linked to the High North – the Arctic is home to 1.5 % of the country’s population, but accounts for 11 % of its GDP and 22 % of its national exports.

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Report: A Uniform Policy to Regulate Shipping in the Arctic Region

6 10 2010

Sovereign states, international governmental organizations and the maritime industry should help prepare a uniform policy to regulate shipping in the Arctic region and engage with native populations while doing so, according to a report released by the University of Alaska Fairbanks in collaboration with Dartmouth and the University of the Arctic’s Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy last month.

The report, “Considering a Roadmap Forward: The Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment,” called for a “Polar Code” that would present guidelines to protect the Arctic region from the adverse ecological, social and economic impacts of increased shipping and commercial marine activity. The threats to the Arctic have grown recently because receding ice cover is opening up access to mineral resources in the area, jeopardizing the region’s ecosystem and native populations, according to Kenneth Yalowitz, the director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding. Yalowitz is the co-chairman of the IACP.

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Russia’s new Arctic Strategy Ready in Two Weeks

6 10 2010

Photo: With Minister of Regional Development Viktor Basargin -

A proposal for strategic development of the Arctic will be handed over to the Russian Government in two weeks time, says Minister of Regional Development Viktor Basargin. The project will probably be approved by the end of the year.

With the new concept for strategic development of the Arctic Russia is changing its approach to exploration of natural resources in the Arctic. Earlier the main argument was to preserve resources to coming generations, but now the focus has turned to use of the resources.

Russia is the last of the countries with access to the Arctic to adopt a plan for Arctic development. As BarentsObserer reported, in October 2010 Basargin said that his ministry had prepared a plan for development, but after this little was heard about the project.

The proposal was presented at the second Arctic Murmansk International Economic Forum in Murmansk last week. In his speech Basargin noted the importance of the Arctic for Russia:

Only 2 percent of the Russian population lives in the Arctic, but the region stands for 14 percent of Russia’s GDP and 25 percent of the country’s export, he said, according to the ministry’s web site. The Russian Arctic holds 80 percent of Russia’s natural gas, 90 percent of nickel and cobalt and 60 percent of copper. In addition there are probably vast undiscovered resources under the sea bottom in the Polar Sea.

Russian policy in the Arctic has three priorities – to create good living conditions for people in the north, including indigenous peoples; to support economic growth and draw investments to the region and to inject serious money into science and ecological infrastructure.

Barents Observer

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