FRD 2021 Panel 2
Cooperation and Environmental Sustainability in the Arctic
Only the 85 kilometers long Bering Strait separates Russia and the US in the Arctic. The US and Russia have stressed that the Arctic should remain a region of cooperation rather than conflict as climate change impacts are creating both economic opportunities, geopolitical tensions, and environmental challenges in the North. As global warming makes the region more accessible, interest in the Arctic's natural resources, its navigation routes and its strategic position has grown.
Scientists predict that in 25 years the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in summer months which will make The Northeast Passage (also known as the Northern Sea Route) between Europe and Asia along Russia's northern coast more attractive to maritime traffic. The Northwest Passage sea route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans is also predicted to experience a boom in navigation.
Changes in the Arctic are also slated to affect threatened and endangered species, and could result in migration of animals and fish stocks to new waters. The rise in temperatures and human activity in the region are also expected to affect cultures and wellbeing of Arctic indigenous peoples. Shared common concerns for the environment and sustainable development of the region highlight both countries’ determination to preserve the Arctic as a region for peaceful cooperation. The same vision is shared by the Arctic Council, which Russia will chair for the next two years. Because Russia and the U.S. are Arctic neighbors, US-Russian collaboration in the Arctic is crucial -- the more so because military matters are not covered by the Arctic Council.
Fort Ross Conservancy is arranging meaningful conversations on policy issues, environment, sustainable economic development, and indigenous communities by arranging the participation of the following individuals:
Matthew Rojansky, Director of the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute
Michael Sfraga, Chair of US Arctic Research Commission (USARC), Director of Polar Institute
Nikolay Korchunov, Ambassador at Large for the Arctic Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), chairman of the Arctic Council
FRD panelists discussed:
- What areas of economic and scientific cooperation can the US-Russia engage in or intensify to solidify their commitment to the peaceful development of the polar region?
- How are the impacts of Arctic warming felt by indigenous communities around the globe?
- What can respected governments do to minimize the effects of climate change in the region and on its people?
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