The Russian Forum-Festival ‘The Arctic. The Ice Has Broken’ was held in the Komi Republic city of Usinsk as part of the main events of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023, are being organized by the Roscongress Foundation.
“Volunteers from all 85 regions of the Russian Federation, as well as the [Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics], took part in the Forum. The Forum-Festival’s programme provided the participants with an opportunity to comprehensively discuss ways to preserve the environment and restore the unique nature of the Arctic, as well as gain the practical skills needed for life beyond the Arctic Circle. Thanks to the active civic position of Russian volunteers, we have already managed to eliminate accumulated environmental damage from the vast territories of a number of regions of the Russian Arctic. Events like the Forum-Festival in Usinsk allow us to share experience with each other and promote the volunteer movement in Russia,” said Anton Kobyakov, Adviser to the Russian President and Executive Secretary of the Organizing Committee for Russia’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
The main event of the Forum-Festival’s business programme was the plenary session, which was attended by Deputy Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic Marat Shamyunov, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment and Federal Forestry Agency Director Sergey Anoprienko, Deputy Chairman of the Komi Republic Government Alexey Prosuzhih, and others. The discussion was held in a Q&A format with the volunteers. The participants discussed ways to improve the quality of life in the Arctic, develop the Northern Sea Route, the results and prospects of the clean-up of Arctic territories, as well as improvements to interaction between the state, the public, and business in these matters.
“The Arctic city of Usinsk became the northern capital of the Russian volunteer movement for three days. The Russian Forum-Festival ‘The Arctic. The Ice Has Broken’ enabled the participants to establish a dialogue both among themselves and with business and the state. The Forum-Festival was a unique opportunity for volunteers to get acquainted with the Russian Arctic and the huge potential of these territories, as well an opportunity to participate in the development of the Far North and contribute to the preservation of the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic regions of our country,” Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic Alexey Chekunkov said.
During the thematic session ‘Dialogues about the Arctic’, experts discussed such issues as cleaning the Arctic territories of garbage and climate change, and also shared their experience of travelling in the Arctic regions.
The volunteers also brainstormed and offered ideas and solutions on issues that are relevant for the Arctic territories, attended an Arctic survival school organized by the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, learned how to provide first aid in the conditions of the Far North, were introduced to individual respiratory and skin protection means, and were taught what to do in the event they encounter wild animals.
During the Forum-Festival, the volunteers visited the Victory Train, the world’s first immersive exhibition on a moving train, as well as the Museum of Local Lore, the My North exposition, the Energy Centre, and the Oil Museum. They also learned about Dmitry Lobusov, the ideological inspirer of the Clean Arctic project, the captain of the 50 Years of Victory nuclear icebreaker, and one of the authors of the initiative to clean up the Arctic. In addition, a colourful mural dedicated to the 45th anniversary of the Arctic icebreaker reaching the North Pole was painted on the wall of a residential building in Usinsk.
In addition, the volunteers took part in the Race of Heroes – an obstacle course over rough terrain. The organizers designed a unique 3.5-km track purposely for the Forum-Festival participants. The Forum-Festival concluded with a festive concert for the event participants and Usinsk residents featuring such performers as Viktoria Dayneko, Denis Klyaver, Yelizaveta Dolzhenkova, Sergey Voytenko, Oleg Shaumarov, Zara, and the band RASA. The event officially kicked off the fourth season of the annual Save the Forest campaign in the Komi Republic. The event’s participants and honoured guests planted 85 mountain ash trees on Three Generations Square. Each tree that was planted on Arctic Volunteers Alley will represent one of the regions of the Russian Federation. Another 20 trees were planted by Forum participants from the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics.
The event was organized by the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic with the support of the Clean Arctic organization, the Russian Federation Council and State Duma, the government of the Komi Republic, and the administration of the municipality of Usinsk.
Environmental protection, including issues related to climate change, is among the top priorities of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023. Considering the rapid climate change being seen in the Arctic, including the degradation of permafrost and the emission of gas hydrates, Russia believes the primary objectives for mitigating the negative effects of climate change are to further adapt life-sustaining activities and ensure resilience to its consequences, preserve and restore the environment, use natural resources in a sustainable manner, and support the health of Arctic ecosystems, including the marine environment and the preservation of biodiversity, in particular migratory birds.