NBC Sakha interview

During the NBC Sakha program “Yakutia in the World” acting Executive Director of the Northern Forum Daryana Maximova spoke about the activities of the Northern Forum international organization, its mission and structure.

The Northern Forum is the only international organization that deals with the issues of the North and the Arctic on the territory of the Russian Federation. The main mission of the Northern Forum is primarily in project activities.


Yakutia in the world (Season 2)

Daryana Maximova, 

Acting Executive Director of the Northern Forum

The interviewer: Good afternoon, dear listeners. Today, Ekaterina Golikova and Savina Danilova work for you. Our guest is Daryana Maximova, Acting Executive Director of the Northern Forum. Good afternoon, Daryana. 

Daryana Maximova: Good afternoon.

I: Please tell us and our audience what exactly is the Northern Forum.

DM: The Northern Forum is an international non-governmental organization of the northern regions, created back in 1991. The Secretariat of the Northern Forum had existed for a very long time in Anchorage, Alaska. And in 2013, it was assigned to Yakutsk. Our mission is to unite the regions for the development of the North and the Arctic. We have a fairly good representation: 14 regions, 10 of which are Russian, 4 are foreign – Alaska, Iceland (Akureyri), Lapland (Finland) and Kangwon Province (Republic of Korea). In Russia, almost all regions in the Arctic and the Far East participate, which is great. And our mission is to develop different directions in economy, ecology and, of course, small-numbered indigenous peoples’ activity and development in these regions. We are committed to work on projects that are aimed to unite the regions.

I: So, the organization is engaged in project activities, and how else does it work? What are the mechanisms?

DM: The structure of the organization is quite potent. As I said, our work is directed to the project activity. We unite the regions at the level of governors, who gather at the General Assemblies every two years, there are also regional coordinators from each region at the level of ministers and heads of departments, who discuss, clarify and approve project activities in the resolutions of our organization. The year of 2021 will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Northern Forum. Since the establishment of the organization, certain projects have been implemented, and some projects are still being implemented. So, in general, we operate on the semi-official level. There are representative offices mainly among officials, but we also can combine different levels not only for projects, which means that the initiatives can be taken by any level. The organization has a convenient structure that can form the international cooperation at the regional level, at the level of governors and their decisions, if a project is very relevant and promising. Moreover, the project should be practically significant, which is not just science and social activity, but namely practical activity that aims to create or build something, if it is possible. The organization can also work on collecting investments in our projects. So, in general, the goals of the Northern Forum were well defined from the very beginning. There is such a term as “sustainable development”, which is spelled out in our charter as the main goal. As already mentioned, the Secretariat of the Northern Forum is situated in Yakutsk and it was created to coordinate activities between regions. The cooperation can be carried out between several regions, and if it is possible, it can be implemented between all of the regions. Therefore, we have working groups that include almost all the regions. There are 10 working groups in various areas, such as infrastructure, assessment of the quality of life in the North and the Arctic, housing construction, environmental protection, regional adaptation to climate change and etc. As we know, the Arctic is basically an unexplored region and everyone is deeply interested in the situation with climate change in the Arctic. So, we are implementing a lot of projects that have already existed in the organization on scientific and practical activities. Well, of course, we also carry out activities in the field of ecology, if you remember we didn’t have an «Orto Doydu» zoo in Yakutsk before, we had a long-standing project of «Northern Zoos». It was with the support of this project that our zoo also received support from the Northern Forum, that is, projects can be practical. In addition, often recalls a project about circumpolar flights. These are our elders. At one time in Alaska we had a representative Anastasia Nikolaevna Bazhedonova, a special representative of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in the secretariat of the Northern Forum, which was located in Anchorage in Alaska. And there she worked for more than 15 years, in my opinion, and during this time, so to speak, Yakutia has a lot of weight in this organization. Since it was created at the initiative of the Maltar Higgel Governor of Alaska. The organization was created in 1991, and Yakutia supported this idea in the person of our first president Mikhail Efimovich Nikolaev. It turns out that from the very beginning we participate in the activities of this organization, and therefore this is the story why they moved from Anchorage to Yakutsk.

I: That is, it turns out that our republic has been actively participating in it from the first days of the creation of this organization. What gives Yakutia membership of this international organization, if we talk about practical benefits?

DM: Well, at one time, when the secretariat was in Alaska, we had an associate secretariat, a separate organization was created, the Northern Forum Academy, it still exists, we are still in close contact with them. It was created by Mikhail Efimovich Nikolaev, and for Yakutia during the presidency of Mikhail Efimovich Nikolaev, there is even such an understanding that all the socio-economic development, including the republic, the North and the Arctic, could be verified through the Northern Forum. That is, the idea was such for the activities of those times, and now we can say that it is very important for Yakutia that we are here, on the other hand, not only for Yakutia, but also for Russia, because we are now supervised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Russia, and we believe, and they believe that it is the only international organization located on the territory of Russia that deals specifically with the North and the Arctic. That is, our bonuses are huge and plus, of course, the biggest status that we have is that we are observers in the Arctic Council. The Northern Forum can participate in all the activities of this high-level international forum in the Arctic Council. Such a representation from Russia has not so many, firstly, there are two organizations in all, these are members of the Association of Indigenous Minorities throughout Siberia and the Russian Far East, and of course Russia itself, as a country, is a member of the Arctic Council. Therefore, the northern forum for Yakutia is, as one of the regions of Russia. This is of course a great achievement that we are here, and of course we are far from Moscow, there is nothing geographically possible to do, but on the other hand, just in Yakutia there are a lot of interesting and relevant issues, now in the Arctic we can coincide with interests. By the way, when the idea was introduced in the 90s 00s that Asia and the Arctic could somehow intersect, and in this case, in Yakutia, we are crossing geographically these two macroregions of the Arctic and Asia. 

I: You recently went on a business trip to the region, which is currently chairing the northern forum, what was discussed?

DM: Yes, now this is the most important thing with us. The chairman of the Northern Forum is the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the presiding governor is Alexander Vitalievich Tsibolsky, and the regional coordinator is Pavel Anatolievich Akladnikov. I specially went to them, and since they have been chairing us for about 2 years, and our chairmanship alternates every two years. In March 2020, the general assembly is to be held, the main event of the Northern Forum, where the following questions are being decided: on the chairmanship, on the candidacy, who will be next? which region? Of course, it was very useful for me to go to the Nenets Autonomous Okrug. We were very pleased that we eventually met with them. Now we are preparing two major events with them, this is a meeting of the committee of regional coordinators and the General Assembly. Presumably we will have a regional coordinator in Kamchatka in February 2020, and in March there will be a general assembly in Naryan-mar. It is assumed that we will also talk about which projects should be included in the resolution, which projects we will support, and all of this we will be ready now for the coordinators who will gather in Kamchatka. I would like to note that the Nenets Autonomous District is the most western, probably, point in the Russian Federation. Unfortunately, neither Murmansk nor Arkhangelsk are part of us. Just the Nenets Autonomous Okrug is such an interesting region, which can be a bridge between east and west, from the point of view of the geographical position of Russia and its branch. There I had meetings with members of the workers of the Northern Forum groups, as it turned out there are so many, 12 people, we got together. We will have a video conference on the housing construction-working group in the nearest future. In other words, now in the age of digitalization and globalization, we can communicate not only on a business trip and go somewhere, but also gather via video conferencing via the Internet — this idea came to us shortly before my trip, when we were doing a round table on Arctic tourism. The regions supported us so well, seven regions participated in total, that is, half of our regions out of 14. Moreover, nine regions initially expressed participation, but some for technical reasons did not work, but nevertheless this form of work suits everyone, everyone wants to work this way in order to be acquainted with each other, first, and discuss their own problems. The Nenets Autonomous district also suggests that the Northern forum may include not only a project that was created within the framework of the Northern forum, but also projects that are being implemented in our regions. This idea is encouraging because you can really understand which regions need help to coordinate their actions, and include these projects in the framework of our organization's activities, so it was a very useful trip.

I: Will you discuss plans for next year at the General Assembly, or are they already roughly defined?

DM: Yes, we should prepare plans here, in the Secretariat of the Northern forum that is, all the documentation that we will discuss there in order to offer the regions we should already prepare now. We collect, of course, as it usually happens in the framework of the Northern forum. We are gathering proposals from the regions. What projects they need, what they will want to continue and what activities they are generally conducting within the framework of the Northern forum. When I came to this position in the first place, of course, I decided to check how the project activities are going in General. This is quite difficult, because in fact the Northern forum is a network that unites regions in different directions. In order to track our projects, we need to contact the regions and monitor them constantly. Indeed, our logo is used, the logo of the Northern forum can be found in those projects that were launched 15 years ago. We keep track of all this. Of course, we have even more organizational activities when we do events, we have already talked about the Northern forum on sustainable development, but there is a very good youth environmental forum that is held annually. This project is moving around the regions. It is really a very good event for children and school students who present their presentations on ecology. This year we spent in Akureyri Iceland and gathered many people, 35 people from different regions. This is the Khanty-Mansiysk district, Yamalo-Nenets, Nenets and Yakutia of course. So were the Japanese and Icelanders. By the way, if you look at membership, we also have a business partnership in the framework of the Northern forum, and one of the Japanese companies is represented here as a business partner. At the time, if we talk about the Japanese in a little more detail, we had the Hokkaido Prefecture in the membership of the Northern Forum, and the Chinese we also had the Heilongjiang province. The mission that I see before me as the new acting Executive Director I hope I will already be approved in March (usually this approval takes place at the General Assembly). As for the further development of the organization, I think that we should first pay attention to the membership and attraction of new regions, or rather new-old regions that were the founders of the organization at the time. Maybe some of the audience will wonder why China, Japan, and Korea belong to the Northern forum. In fact, the Northern forum is a unique organization. We do not unite on a geographical basis, we unite on interests. If the region has an interest in the North and the Arctic, then we have no restrictions on accepting it as a member under the Charter.

I: Daryana, thank you very much for your interesting story about the Northern Forum. I would like to wish the Northern forum and you personally success next year. Please say a few words of wishes for our radio listeners

DM: Thank you so much for inviting me. I would like to wish our radio listeners warmth in the soul, so that everything is good for you. If you have any ideas about our organization, please contact us. You can find our contacts on our website and read about us, and we are generally open for discussion.

I: Dear radio listeners I would like to remind you that today we had Daryana Maksimova acting Executive Director of the Northern Forum as a guest.