Russia Presents New Vision for Arctic Wealth

Russia Presents Vision for Arctic Wealth: An international forum recently held in Moscow was, according to Sergei Shoigu (President of the Russian Geographical Society), designed to

“present the world community with a picture of the region’s future as it is seen by the Russian experts.”

Shoigu is also the Russian Emergencies Minister, and is concerned with how a tremendous amount of untapped oil and natural gas reserves in the area will be exploited. Here, we’ll take a brief look at how Russia’s vision for taking advantage of this wealth within the Arctic will play out.

Polar Bear Photo

A recent study by the United States Geological Survey estimated that the amount of “undiscovered, technically recoverable” sitting north of the Arctic Circle was roughly double the amount that has been discovered to date. There is also estimated to be almost three times as much undiscovered natural gas as there is oil, much of which sits within the area of the Arctic Circle currently under Russian control. Russian government representatives recently announced that geographers would begin working on an updated version of the Arctic atlas, which Shoigu describes as requiring “extensive, serious work.”

Shoigu added that the atlas would include descriptions of the various areas within the Arctic that could prove dangerous, although some of these dangerous areas could be of interest to some of the companies working there.

Desert of Ice

Russia controls the largest area of land within the Arctic, and its citizens make up for over half the population within the Arctic Circle. It also has the most populous cities within the Arctic, and according to Russian Presidential Advisor for Climate Alexander Bedritsky,

“Russia is distinct from other Arctic nations in that a large share of its population actually lives in the Arctic region.”

Bedritsky added that

“Russia’s Arctic sector, inhabited by 1.5 percent of the country’s population, accounts for 11 percent of its GDP and 22 percent of its exports.”

Seven other independent countries have land within the Arctic Circle, and also make up the other members of the Arctic Council. These countries include the state of Alaska within the United States, Canada, Greenland (a part of Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden. The fact that Russia presents vision for Arctic wealth means that, hopefully, it will have environmental and sustainability factors in mind when it makes a push to exploit the rich natural resources located beneath the surface of the Arctic, in cooperation with other Arctic Council members.