Arctic Youth

On October 18, the Arctic Youth project team held an online international panel discussion ‘Polar Law – 2023’.

Specialists in the field of environmental and legal issues from the Institute of Biology of the Komi Scientific Center of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Syktyvkar), the Kola Science Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Apatity, Murmansk Region), the Maritime Arbitration Commission at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation (Moscow), the Pasvik Nature Reserve (Pechengsky District, Murmansk Region), the Arctic (Iceland) and an expert on polar law from Finland took part in the panel discussion.

During the event, the participants discussed current issues of law enforcement practice with regard to international processes in the Arctic. The participants agreed that the most important issues that polar law should regulate at the national and international levels are environmental safety, biodiversity conservation, and adaptation to climate change.

Since the event was held at the visitor center of the Pasvik Nature Reserve, the participants repeatedly referred to the existing problem of bilateral relations between Russia and Norway in their presentations. In particular, they actively discussed the situation related to the transition of domestic reindeer from Norway to the territory of the Russian Pasvik Nature Reserve.

It was important to attract attendees from European Arctic countries to the panel discussion, so the participants were encouraged by the fact that experts from Iceland and Finland joined the event.

The panel discussion was opened by its organizer – the head of the Arctic Youth project Roman Movchan.

Within the panel discussion, Vladimir Elsakov, a candidate in biological sciences and a head of the group of computer technologies and modeling at the Institute of Biology of the Komi Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Syktyvkar, Komi Republic), made a presentation on the theme ‘Information technologies for monitoring and managing pasture resources of reindeer’.

The expert stressed that the natural environment of the Arctic region is changing rapidly. The reasons for such changes are climatic transformations, intensive economic development, and in many cases uncontrolled development of traditional environmental management (reindeer husbandry). In the Arctic region, it is especially evident on the Yamal Peninsula, where overgrazing of reindeer leads to a reduction in food resources. This requires quick and urgent decisions, including in the field of legal regulation.

The closure of scientific facilities and the complete termination or reduction of long-term programs have significantly narrowed the understanding of the processes occurring in the Arctic. The use of archival and operational materials from satellite surveys made it possible to indicate the major trends.

However, in order to assess the changes correctly, it is necessary to combine remote methods with field instrumental observations of the state of the ground cover and changes in the levels of biological diversity.

The senior researcher of Kola Science Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Apatity, Murmansk region), Ph.D. of Economy, Elena Klyuchnikova made a presentation ‘Specificities and features of the implementation of regulatory support for environmental safety in the Arctic: strategic analysis of Russian and foreign experience’, which was of a serious applied nature.

In her speech, Elena Klyuchnikova presented a detailed analysis of the environmental policies of the EU, the People's Republic of China, and the Russian Federation, which was carried out by a team of scientists from the Kola Science Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences under the leadership of Vladimir Masloboev. The presentation was relevant for the Pasvik Nature Reserve, since Finland is part of the European Union, and Norway, although not part of the EU, is subject to many environmental directives of the European Union.

According to Elena Klyuchnikova, it is necessary to take into account the difference in approaches to environmental policy-making in neighboring countries, when resolving environmental disagreements with European countries. In the Russian Federation, the cornerstone is the concept of environmental safety and respect for individual’s right to live in a healthy environment, while for the EU the most important issue is the prevention of environmental conflicts by involving the maximum number of stakeholders when making environmentally significant decisions.

As follows from Elena Klyuchnikova’s presentation, in order to increase the success of negotiations with the EU and Norway, it is advisable to conduct a dialogue from the perspective of assessing how an issue contributes to the achievement of the UN sustainable development goals:

  • adaptation to climate change;
  • climate change mitigation;
  • sustainable use of the oceans, seas, and marine resources;
  • transition to a circular economy;
  • reduction of pollutant emissions;
  • protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems.

Elena Klyuchnikova’s research was carried out in order to create conditions for transboundary dialogue in the Arctic, by improving the understanding of what the opinions of politicians of other states with interests in the Arctic are based on.

The scientific work presented by Elena Klyuchnikova can be used in the future when solving international problems arising in the field of ensuring environmental safety.

The advisor to the General Director of the Kola Science Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Technical Sciences (Apatity, Murmansk Region) Vladimir Masloboev spoke on the topic ‘ESG principles for the Arctic’.

According to Vladimir Masloboev, the main ESG principles include the indication of the sustainable development of Arctic ecosystems, taking into account the interests of indigenous peoples, decarbonization of the oil and gas industry, and an intersectoral approach to managing the development of the region.

He emphasized that when developing and complying with polar law norms, it is important to take into account ESG principles, the legislation of the Russian Federation concerning the best available technologies, to adhere to the UN sustainable development goals, and to take into account the “ESG business rating”. In the future, this will allow for resuming an equitable dialogue at the international level in the interests of the conservation nature of the Arctic.

The example of the Norilsk Nickel Corporation shows that the effective application of ESG principles in the Arctic is possible and useful.

An arbitrator of the Maritime Arbitration Commission at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation (Moscow), captain-mentor for the safety management system at FSUE Atomflot (Murmansk) Dmitry Karpachev, made a presentation on the activities of the Maritime Arbitration Commission (MAC) and the safety of ships traveling along the NSR. According to Dmitry Karpachev, Rosatom will never issue permission for the passage along the NSR to a vessel, whose hull or equipment does not meet the safety requirements for navigation in current ice conditions. However, emergencies such as fire on board, grounding, and others mostly arise due to human factor or deficiencies in the maintenance of equipment and mechanisms. So, there is an increasing risk of various types of incidents along NSR if the volume of cargo transportation and traffic intensity increases. At the same time, special attention should be paid to the issue of eliminating the consequences of accidents related to the climatic characteristics of the Arctic region.

Pavel Tkach, an expert in polar law (Finland), spoke about regional climate planning in the Arctic countries of the West.

Climate planning has its own indicators (scopes of emissions): scope 1 emissions are from agriculture, forestry, and other types of land use; scope 2 - is from network energy; scope 3 - is from energy transmission and distribution, external transport, and other indirect emissions.

According to the forecast by Pavel Tkach, the future of the Arctic countries of the West is as follows:

  • regional and municipal climate planning and budgeting will become mandatory in all parts of the Arctic;
  • even more Arctic cities will join the agreement of mayors on climate and energy;
  • inter-municipal and interregional climate cooperation will intensify in order to increase the efficiency of climate planning;
  • methods for presenting and analyzing emission data will be simplified and refined.

Halldor Johannsson, executive director of the Arctic, and an international guest expert, thanked the organizers of the meeting for discussing current issues of polar law.

He recognized the importance of an open dialogue between countries and agreed on the need to continue discussions among scientists on Arctic issues.

Natalya Polikarpova, director of the Pasvik Nature Reserve (Nickel, Murmansk region) thanked the organizers and participants for the productive dialogue and emphasized the feasibility of holding similar panel discussions in the future.

Conclusions reached:

  • It is required to consider the issue of creating a Strategy for the development of reindeer husbandry in the Arctic, both in Russia and at the international level. This strategy should be developed taking into account the opinions of the indigenous peoples of the North. The regions of Russia that have borders with foreign countries and that actively develop reindeer husbandry, it is advisable to jointly develop a regulatory framework by international groups of scientists to monitor ecosystems and track the level of biodiversity in the study areas (according to the speech of V. Elsakov);
  • The situation in the Pasvik Nature Reserve indicates the need to initiate mediation procedures on this problem, followed by the voluntary conclusion of a bilateral agreement between the countries. The agreement should provide a legal mechanism for resolving such disputes through the creation of specialized environmental arbitration, whose jurisdiction and decisions will be recognized by both Parties (according to the speech of D. Karpachev);
  • Business development in the Russian Arctic, including reindeer husbandry, is advisable to be based on the ESG principles since they are suitable for establishing a constructive dialogue with our neighbors, including Norway (according to the speech of V. Masloboev).
  • The management of the Pasvik Nature Reserve can involve representatives of civil society from Russia and Norway in resolving the dispute with Norway in the field of reindeer husbandry (according to the speech of E. Klyuchnikova);
  • For better interaction with neighboring countries, the regions of the Arctic zone of Russia can study and consider the climate planning experience of the Arctic countries of the West (according to the speech of P. Tkach).

Source: Arctic Youth (Молодежь Арктики)

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