5th International forum “Arctic: present and future” took place in St. Petersburg. This large-scale forum is held annually. The Northern Forum took part in this event, with several participants – the Northern Forum Chair (Governor of Krasnoyarsky krai) Victor Tolokonsky, NF RCC Chair Yuri Zakharinsky (Deputy chair of Krasnoyarsky krai government) and the NF Executive Mikhail Pogodaev.

This year the Forum has gained more momentum with over 1,000 participants attending. Notable participants were: Vice chair of the Russian government Dmitry Rogozin (also leads Russian State Commission on development of the Arctic), Federal ministers, members of State Duma, heads of Russian regions, polar explorers, representatives of industrial corporations and INGOs. The Forum itself was organized by a Russian Association of Polar Explorers. Under lead of a well-known polar explorer Artur Chilingarov, who also is a special representative of the Russian President to international cooperation in the Arctic and Antarctic.

The Forum has opened with a plenary session called “Russian Arctic – Land of opportunities”. The NF Chair Victor Tolokonsky presented opportunities of Krasnoyarsky krai on a plenary session. Then several panel sections were held, where participants discussed topics from natural resource development to Arctic tourism and conservation of the indigenous peoples’ culture. Opportunities for development in these fields are limitless, what the name of this forum suggests.

Yuri Zakharinsky has presented his report on a second section called “Arctic regions: points of growth of the Russian economy”. In his presentation he thanked Sakha Republic (Yakutia) and other Northern regions for trust given to Krasnoyarsky krai and presented Krasnoyarsky krai priorities for its NF Chairmanship term.

Development of territories marked as Arctic area is among top priorities of Kransoyarsky krai state policy. Krai Governor Victor Tolokonsky has high hopes on participation in the Northern Forum that is a stage for dialogue between the Northern regions and states with a goal of improving life quality of the indigenous peoples and Arctic nature conservation.

The NF Executive Mikhail Pogodaev took part in two sections with reports. Sections were “Sustainable development of indigenous peoples of the North” (moderated by Igor Barinov), head of the Federal agency on Russian nationalities and in section “Interregional cooperation for development of the Arctic” with a report on the Northern Forum activities. This was the section, where Yuri Zakharinsky has also made a report described above.

 These opportunities were also discussed on previous forums. Many new propositions were sounded – such as ideas on revitalizing the Northern Sea Route according to requests of time. The Arctic must be developed by professionals – there is a lack of 125,000 quality employees – this was a bulletpoint of Russian Education minister Dmitry Livanov. He has pointed out that structure of application process into the Arctic area universities will be revised; in 2016 this will give sponsored extra places in geology, mining and oil/gas geodetics.

Main agenda item was “Development of information and telecom systems”. Doctor of Geological Mineralogical sciences, Anatoly Brekhuntsov has spoken on creation of a “unique information system” in the Arctic and a joint information space in his report. All necessary data will be accumulated in this space with a “free access to whom it concerns”. Brekhuntsov has made a task: “We must prepare a letter and go on a state level, to launch a state commission to informatize all Arctic territory; so that we can logically, economically and effectively conduct all planned work”.

The Forum has also hosted an exhibition of the modern machinery for exploration of the Arctic territory. In particular, a “Skolkovo” fund has presented a prototype of a deep-water drone.

Vice premier Dmitry Rogozin has spoken on shipping via the Northern Sea Route, claiming that it must be available all-year round. To achieve this, three new ice-breakers and a floating nuclear power plant are being built. He also spoke about priorities of special sate commission: people in the North, security issues, transport accessibility of polar areas and natural resource extraction.

Governors of the Northern regions in their reports were mostly focused on their regions’ projects, be it a port terminal for oil transit or railway hubs.

The Northern Forum Secretariat