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'Arctic, Territory of Dialogue' forum begins in Moscow

On September 22-23, the forum, entitled "The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue," will be held in Moscow. It is to focus on the challenges of climate change, the effects of human activity, issues concerning natural resources and ways to ensure sustainable development in the Arctic region. The forum will gather the world's leading ecologists, experts and politicians to discuss the social, economic and environmental issues affecting the region. Among the guests of honor are Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and Prince Albert of Monaco.

The forum will be the first discussion of the Arctic region's issues on the highest level. The Arctic region accounts for more than 25 percent of the global oil and gas reserves. It also has rich reserves of nickel and cobalt. No wonder that there are many countries willing to develop them. However before launching the projects it is necessary to set clear rules of the game, president of the Russian Geographical Society and Emergency Minister Sergey Shoigu says.

We understand that all the Arctic countries such as Canada Norway, the US in future will be developing oil and gas reserves in this region. We should elaborate the common policy and the common approach to the security issues.

The global warming also makes the Arctic region development a more urgent issue. On the one hand it creates many problems related to the flooding of the Arctic areas, serious climate changes, and on the other hand it will make the Arctic reserves more accessible.

The competition in the Arctic region will concern not only the oil and gas sectors but also precious metals and the Arctic Sea route which is the shortest between European and Far Eastern ports. If the global warming continues, the Arctic sea route will cut the time and the costs of transportation by one third.

But it is cooperation not competition that should become the key word when we talk about the development of the Arctic region. The Arctic projects promise to be profitable but they are difficult to carry out independently. Despite the melting of glaciers, the geological and technical parts remain expensive and complicated. The coming forum should work out the new principles and ways of cooperation between the Arctic nations on the development of this rich region.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.

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