Saint Petersburg & Russian Arctic Development

Arctic Salon 2023

What is the role of Saint Petersburg in the research and development of Russia's Arctic territories? How does the city on the Neva River cooperate with the Arctic regions and what has been done on the way to technological independence under Western sanctions on Russia? On August 25, the plenary session of the Arctic Salon aimed to address topics related to St. Petersburg’s contribution to the advancement of the Arctic.

The cooperation of the Government of St. Petersburg with the Arctic regions covers almost all areas of the economy: industry, construction, fuel and energy, medicine, culture, education, science. St. Petersburg is the major venue of training personnel for the Arctic, given that the need in the Arctic regions is 20-25 thousand per year.

But the reality is a bit different due to the growing competition within the Arctic regions for the right to be known as the center of excellence in the field of Arctic matters. In this regard, the Venice of the North has always been and will remain out of competition.

Past ten-twelve years have witnessed this tendency, coinciding in time with the resumption of the development of the northern territories, as well as the Committee for Arctic Affairs started to operate in St. Petersburg, driven by two new industrial clusters of marine robotics and gas equipment which also began to evolve nearly this period. In addition, St. Petersburg concluded the agreements on cooperation in the economic, social, humanitarian sectors and in the field of environmental management with almost all Arctic regions.

Indeed, the willingness of the regions to develop closer cooperation with St. Petersburg companies and scientific institutions in a number of Arctic projects remains high. Most attractive is considered to be necessary financial support of business, as well as the credibility of cooperation as such.

The development of bilateral cooperation with the city on the Neva River is important because many people are thinking about whether it is worth launching any initiatives in the Arctic. The answer is simple: it's worth it! This belief is shared by Alexei Fadeev, Doctor of Economics, currently Executive Director of the Association of Polar Explorers of the Murmansk Region, Deputy Chairman of the Public Council of the St. Petersburg Committee for the Arctic Affairs.

Today, business running in the Russian Arctic produce 25% of exports, the expert says

It seems to be only the beginning, given the tasks set by the State Government to increase the economic contribution of the Arctic to the country's GDP by at least 3 times until 2035.

On the other hand, no one denies that conditions of Russia's Arctic regions pose a daunting challenge to the goal of developing infrastructure and any economic activity which largely involves Soviet infrastructure assets. No surprise that experts often talk about the 2nd wave of Arctic exploration, focusing on the development of the Northern Sea Route, the Northern Latitudinal Way, gas and oil production clusters in Yamal and Taimyr...

This all proclaims the following conclusion: the insufficient state involvement in technological processes in hard-to-reach areas of the Arctic remains the sore point here that requires careful attention.

Not to expect greater interregional cooperation in the Arctic in the near future...What we see today is that the loss of Western investors in a number of large infrastructure projects has not become a motivating force, as many expected, for cooperation of Russian Arctic regions to obtain economic benefits. The regions seem to "lock in" on themselves.

We even thank Norwegian ports for closing. In Arkhangelsk, queues lined up for ship repair until the end of 2024, said Evgenia Shelyuk, Acting Minister of Economic Development, Industry and Science of the Arkhangelsk Region.

At the same time, what keeps the Arctic regions whole is specifying a list of settlements in the Arctic, which will be considered as the key ones. Such a task was assigned by Russia’s President in mid-July.

The event confirmed the importance of Saint Petersburg as a venue for promoting the Arctic initiatives in close coordination with the Arctic regions. Although presentations at the plenary session were touched upon mainly success stories, this discussion, again, revealed the significance of interaction among the government, business and science in co-developing breakthrough solutions for the Arctic.