Exploring the Northern Dimension

POLICY BRIEF: NDEP as a platform for nuclear cleanup of sunken objects in the Arctic Sea

This Policy Brief summarizes the key outcomes and recommendations from the Northern Dimension Expert Seminar1: Nuclear Waste Cleanup in the Arctic, which gathered together leading international experts and key stakeholders on nuclear cleanup projects.

The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership’s Nuclear Window (NDEP NW) is an established platform for eliminating nuclear hazards inherited from the Soviet nuclear fleet operations in the Arctic. The strength of the NDEP NW projects is their operating model, where the NDEP grants administered by the EBRD act as a catalyst for local and complementary national funding, including in kind support from the beneficiaries.

After years of terrestrial nuclear cleanup, Russia and international actors are taking the remediation of hazardous sunken objects as a strategic priority, and the recent European Commission funded feasibility study identified 17,000 sunken nuclear objects in the Arctic Sea, and drafted a four-step action plan for the management of six most hazardous objects.

The Expert Seminar concluded that the nuclear cleanup of the most hazardous sunken objects should start from the lifting and dismantling of the most urgent ones: nuclear submarines K-27 and K-159, and that the NDEP NW would be a feasible platform for these projects. The learnings from the expert seminar lead to following recommendations for future nuclear cleanup projects on sunken objects in the Arctic:

  • Recommendation 1: To encourage the Russian Federation to continue its work on establishing a legal and regulatory framework for cleanup of sunken nuclear objects.
  • Recommendation 2: To inform international donors about how Russian legislation would enable/constrain international cooperation in the potential lifting operation.
  • Recommendation 3: To seek infrastructural and other synergies with existing NDEP funded projects and with bilateral nuclear cleanup projects.
  • Recommendation 4: To allocate sufficient complementary national funding to secure operational costs not funded by the NDEP grant.
  • Recommendation 5: To have a flexible technical and management approach in project design and implementation to account for regulatory and other uncertainties.
  • Recommendation 6: To ensure efficient knowledge sharing and collaboration between project implementing bodies and key external stakeholders.

The Policy Brief can be downloaded here (link)

For more information, please contact the authors:
Dr Päivi Karhunen, Aalto University, paivi.karhunen [a] aalto.fi
Prof. Riitta Kosonen, Aalto University, riitta.kosonen [a] aalto.fi

1The seminar was organized virtually on 25 Nov. 2020. Its program and materials can be found here (link). The information presented in the Policy Brief is retrieved from the seminar presentations, unless otherwise indicated.

NDI POLICY BRIEF 13: Analysis of subjective wellbeing is important for wellbeing development in the Northern Dimension area


Actors in the social and health care often aim to improve wellbeing of the population in various interventions and development projects. The evaluation of their outcome is usually based on objective wellbeing criteria only, although people’s subjective wellbeing (SWB) is the foundation of the wellbeing of the population. Therefore, the viewpoint of families and experiences of individual people should always be essential and deeply considered whenever wellbeing is evaluated. This is feasible, as SWB can be directly measured by qualitative interviews and questionnaires, and many large international research programs have studied subjective wellbeing. This policy brief is based on a current study on SWB of Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Poles and Russians, which was investigated on European Social Survey data from 2006 to 2016 with 48 000 interviewed respondents. The results show that SWB was improving slowly during the period of investigation, and that there were several factors connected to SWB. The most important ones include health, income, trust, religiosity and not being unemployed. The results allow making the following recommendations for actors in the health and social care, and for the work under the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Wellbeing.

  • Recommendation 1. Subjective wellbeing should be acknowledged in all development projects, decisions, interventions and studies addressing health and wellbeing. Health is an important part of SWB, but not the only one.
  • Recommendation 2. Data from large-scale international studies can be helpful in the evaluation and interpretation of final outcomes of wellbeing development projects. If the outcome is not easy to assess, SWB measured in existing studies would help to detect the change in wellbeing.
  • Recommendation 3. Cross-sectoral co-operation and information exchange is beneficial for the assessment of wellbeing outcome of development projects and for research.

A figure about subjective wellbeign of  Estonians, Latvian, Lithuanians, Poles and Russians in 2006-2016

Figure: Subjective wellbeing of Estonians, Latvian, Lithuanians, Poles and Russians in 2006-2016 (scale 0-10),
presented in yearly means of wellbeing scores of 48000 interviewed respondents according to ESS data.

The Policy Brief can be downloaded here (link).

For more information, please contact the author:
Paula Vainiomäki, PhD (Medicine), MSc (Social Politics), University of Turku, NDPHS PHC, pavaini [a] utu.fi

This policy brief was written as a part of the NDI Policy Brief Training held in October 2020.

NDI BACKGROUND PAPER 2: Polar Code and other measures to improve safety of shipping in the Arctic

Summary: The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters, better known as the “Polar Code”, came into force on 1 January 2017 to improve safety for ship operations in remote waters of the polar regions. It was developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as a legally binding international framework that builds on existing mandatory regulations set by IMO in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). The goal for implementing the Polar Code is “to provide for safe ship operation and the protection of the polar environment by addressing risks present in polar waters and not adequately mitigated by other instruments of the Organization” [10].

This paper gives an overview of how the regulations have contributed to enhancing the safety of ship operations and mitigating environmental risks in the Arctic. At the time of writing (November 2020), the Polar Code has been in force for more than three years, so it is timely to assess how its implementation has affected safety of shipping and how it takes environmental issues into account. We identify a number of issues that hamper the effective implementation of the Polar Code, including inadequate maritime infrastructure in the Arctic, discrepancy between national requirements and those of the Polar Code, and too descriptive requirements concerning, for example, survival equipment and resources. Other areas that need improvement relate to the training of ship crews, and to the bringing the environmental regulation for marine traffic in the Arctic to the same level as in the Antarctic waters. We further examine additional ways of ensuring the safety of polar shipping and protecting polar waters in the era of increasing marine operations, taking into account the on-going work of IMO. 

Read more and download the Background Paper here (link).

For more information, please contact the author:
Svetlana Kuznetsova, Northern Arctic Federal University, Arkhangelsk, Russia, s.kuznecova [a] narfu.ru

NDI POLICY BRIEF 12: Wind Energy is a key solution for remote area energy supply in the High North of Russia

The energy supply in the Russian Federation is characterized by a large number of remote northern settlements which are powered by imported fossil fuel, mostly diesel fuel. Therefore, sustainable development of remote northern territories is a major challenge. One solution to this challenge is to increase the use of wind energy. The replacement of a majority of diesel power plants with wind power plants would reduce economic costs and environmental risks, and thus contribute to the sustainable development in the High North.

  • Recommendation 1. To invest in the construction of wind power plants in the High North with the plant capacity corresponding the demand of electrical capacity of the settlement. Initial investments represent the largest part of the wind power plant costs. These investments are paid off by using a natural renewable energy source.
  • Recommendation 2. To support research on the icing of wind power plants and the development of de-icing systems. Solving the icing problem is the key to the sustainable operation of wind turbines in the north.
  • Recommendation 3. To integrate wind power plants to existing power supply networks to create a smart grid system. This system would eliminate the risk of energy shortages caused by possible wind instability.
  • Recommendation 4. To raise public awareness about the benefits of clean and renewable energy through distributing information on television, organizing training courses for companies, and providing education in schools and universities.

A map of Russia presenting mean wind speeds in the area A map of mean wind speeds in Russia

The Policy Brief can be downloaded here.

For more information, please contact the author:
Dr Pavel Maryandyshev, NARFU, Arkhangelsk, Russia, p.marjyandishev [a] narfu.ru

This policy brief was written as a part of the NDI Policy Brief Training held in October 2020.

NDI POLICY BRIEF 11: Arctic shipping needs anti-avoidance rules to mitigate environmental disasters

Global warming will accelerate the melting of ice and release some of the Arctic territories for shipping. On the one hand, it will have a positive impact on world trade but on the other hand, the risk of ship accidents and environmental disasters will increase. In the period from 2010 to 2019, 512 ship accidents in Arctic Circle Waters were reported, not without damage to the environment. However, today's legal structure of the shipping industry makes it virtually impossible to make the ultimate owners of ships liable and responsible for environmental costs. There is no international regulation that would pressure the shipping industry to increase its corporate responsibility and to make more sustainable decisions of using clean fuels, improving the environmental friendliness of ships, or recycling old ships.

  • Recommendation 1. To improve availability and transparency of ultimate beneficial ownership data in the shipping industry.
  • Recommendation 2. To develop mechanisms to hold the ship's ultimate beneficial owners liable for maritime incidents such as oil spills.
  • Recommendation 3. To design anti-avoidance rules applicable to the use of flags of convenience and last-voyage flags (in the spirit of anti-tax avoidance rules).

 

The Policy Brief can be downloaded here.

For more information, please contact the author:
Dmitry Erokhin, International Institute for Applied System Analysis, erokhin [a] iiasa.ac.at

This policy brief was written as a part of the NDI Policy Brief Training held in October 2020. 

New publication series: NDI Background Papers

Northern Dimension Institute has launched a new publication series NDI Background Papers. The purpose of the NDI Background Papers is to raise awareness about emerging topics relevant to the ND thematic partnerships, and review the state of the art of research on them in the ND area.

The first background paper to be published in the series is Marine Plastic Debris Pollution in the Russian Arctic by Konstantin Zaikov and Nikita Sobolev, Northern Arctic Federal University, Arkhangelsk, Russia. http://www.northerndimension.info/images/Backgroundpapers/Marine_Plastic_Debris_Pollution_in_the_Russian_Arctic_-_NDI_Background_Paper.pdf

 

NDI Policy Brief 10: Symbolic resources of the Russian North in the global experience economy

This Policy Brief gives recommendations for the development of cultural products and creative entrepreneurship in the Russian North through the conceptual lenses of symbolic resources and the experience economy. The global experience economy has changed the value chain logic of the cultural market from the traditional production and consumption of creative products and services into co-creation of cultural experiences. This co-creation implies that symbolic resources, such as the cultural heritage, are interpreted in a novel way that transforms them into experiences connected to time and place. Cultural projects, which started in the Russian North-West in late 1990s and follow the logic of the experience economy, have proved their sustainability on the regional and global cultural scenes. Their success is explained by common features of the artistic content and organizational models. These features include the artistic interpretation of Northern cultural symbols and the formation of comfortable spaces for creative interaction of actors with different backgrounds.

Maryin Dom 1

Opening of the artistic residence "Maryin Dom" in Shakola village, photo by Irina Efimova

The Policy Brief gives the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1. New visions of the Northern Russian heritage as the valuable resource for cultural innovation should be promoted and supported in the spheres of service design, creative tourism and event management.

Recommendation 2. Creative places of the Russian North hosting experimental art activities, as well as traditional cultural and commercial events need to be promoted as powerful territorial brands.

Recommendation 3. Applied research on management and organizational issues of the “unorthodox” cultural products development and on the implementation of hybrid symbolic meanings to the traditional landscapes will help to share the best practices of cultural entrepreneurship.

 

The Policy Brief can be downloaded here.

For more information, please contact the author:

Anna Soloveva, professor at the World History Department, Northern Arctic Federal University, Arkhangelsk, Russia, a.soloveva[at]narfu.ru

 

NDI Policy Brief 9: Preventing premature deaths in the Northern Dimension area

This policy brief reports key findings of a study carried ot by the NDPHS Expert Group for Non-communicable diseases. The study analyzed official mortality data on premature deaths under 70 years of age in eight countries in the Northern Dimension area (Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden) and found that the PYLL rate (“Potential Years of Life Lost”) differs considerably among ND area countries. A striking feature is its gender difference, being on average 2.5 times higher for men than for women. Most of this difference is due to external causes of death such as suicides and traffic accidents. Alcohol-related causes also have a heavy male over-representation. The general development in public health outcome was however good in 2003-2013, resulting in average 26% PYLL reduction. Encouraging trends include decrease in losses caused by vascular (heart) diseases, cancer and external causes, such as suicides and alcohol related causes, in all ND countries that participated in the study.

PYLL figure

The results of the study led to the following recommendations:

  • Recommendation 1. Premature mortality can be prevented effectively by designing and implementing health and economic policies on health promotion and disease prevention. Evidence based treatment of diseases also makes a difference, but is less effective than prevention of diseases and accidents.
  • Recommendation 2. Positive changes in male health behavior has an immediate decreasing effect on overall premature mortality. Policies should be targeted towards improving traffic and occupational safety, and decreasing harmful use of alcohol.
  • Recommendation 3. Public health strategies should be intersectoral and involve all stakeholders. Practicing Health in All Policies (HiAP), promoting healthy lifestyles and holistic healthcare are crucial for preventing and avoiding many of premature deaths.
  • Recommendation 4. PYLL rate was selected in 2015 as the indicator to measure the progress of the current 2016-2020 Strategy of the NDPHS. Continuing this practice in the renewed strategy beyond 2020 is highly recommended. The ongoing ND PYLL-2 study should also pre-assess the 2020 COVID-19 caused years of life lost in order to evaluate its burden on the public health of populations.
  • Recommendation 5.Health policy makers are invited to discuss the results of the PYLL-2 study, launched by the NDPHS NCD Expert Group in 2020, in workshops that will be organized in 2021 in selected NDPHS countries.

The Policy Brief can be downloaded here

For more information contact the author Mikko Vienonen, NDPHS/NCD Expert Group, vienonen.m.[at]gmail.com


Publications from the first year of NDI Think Tank Action

The NDI Think Tank Action conducts research on thematic areas jointly agreed with the ND partnerships. The themes for the first year of the Action include climate change impact in the Arctic, emerging transport and logistics routes between Europe and Asia, healthy aging and creative industries' contribution to societal challenges in the ND area. The intellectual outputs of this research includes policy briefs, academic articles and other scientific publications. The following publications were prepared during the first year (2019) of the Action.

NDI Policy Briefs

Troche, G. (2019) Euro-Asian land transport links – opportunities for rail.NDI Policy Brief 5/June 2019.http://www.northerndimension.info/news/news/853-northern-dimension-institute-policy-brief-5-euro-asian-land-transport-links-opportunities-for-rail

Golubeva, E. and Emelyanova, A. (2019)Healthy ageing innovations in care for older residents of remote northern areas. NDI Policy Brief 6/September 2019.http://www.northerndimension.info/news/news/871-northern-dimension-institute-policy-brief-6-healthy-ageing-innovations-in-care-for-older-residents-of-remote-northern-areas

Sorokina, T., Trofimova, A. and Varakina, J. (2019) Systemic biomonitoring needed to mitigate Arctic health risks. NDIPolicy Brief 7/December 2019,http://www.northerndimension.info/news/news/879-ndi-policy-brief-7-systemic-biomonitoring-needed-to-mitigate-arctic-health-risks

Siluanova, L., Kuznecova, S., Yakhyaev, D., Grigorishchin, A., Hairova, T. and Zadorin, M. (2020) Ensuring safety of navigation and reducing transportation costs in the Arctic with digital technologies. NDI Policy Brief 8/January 2020.http://www.northerndimension.info/images/Policybriefs/NARFU-digital-transport-final.pdf

Soloviova, A. (forthcoming)Symbolic resources of the Russian North in the global experience economy.Forthcoming as NDIPolicy Brief x/2020.

Academic articles and other scientific publications

Thematic Area Transport and Logistics

Rekord, S. (2019) Economy of the future the view of the new generation of investors (in Russian). Izvestia Sank-Peterburgskogo Ekonomicheskogo Universiteta(Известия Санкт-Петербургского государственного экономического университета). – Special issue to SPIEF 2019. № 4 Pp. 62–65.https://unecon.ru/sites/default/files/izvestiya_no_4-2019.pdf

Mishalchenko, Yu.V. and Piskun, L.P (2019)International economic and legal aspects of Northern Sea Route use (in Russian). Sovremennye problemy menedgmenta (Современныепроблемыменеджмента).СПб.:ООО «Скифия-принт».

Babich, S., Yakovleva, A. and Yulin, A. (2019)Transport and Logistics Potential of the Northern Sea Route in the Eurasian Economic Space (in Russian). Rossiyskaya Arktika, 4:5–14.https://russian-arctic.info/info/articles/ekonomika/transportno-logisticheskiy-potentsial-severnogo-morskogo-puti-v-evroaziatskom-ekonomicheskom-prostra/

Stepanova, V.V., Ukhanova, A.V., Laverov, N., Grigorishchin, A.V. and Yakhyaev, D.B. (2019) Evaluating digital ecosystems in Russia’s regions (in Russian). Economic and Social Changes: Facts, Trends, Forecast, 12(2): 73–90.http://esc.vscc.ac.ru/article/28138/full?_lang=ru

Panin, V. (2019) Transport connection Arctic, Far East, Siberia, Urals (in Russian). Expert conclusion published within International Arctic Forum 2019.https://roscongress.org/sessions/iaf-2019-transportnaya-vzaimosvyaz-arktika-dalniy-vostok-sibir-ural/expert/

Thematic Area Climate Change

Rekord, S. and Kulikov, D. (2019) International aspects of formation of technical and economic model of decarbonization of natural gas (in Russian). Problemy Sovremennoy Ekonomiki (Проблемысовременнойэкономики). 3 (71): 176 – 180.http://www.m-economy.ru/articles_pdf/71/PSE_71_p176_180.pdf

Kostin, K.B., Boldyrev, Y., Chernogorskiy, S., Shvetsov, K. and Zherelo, A. (2019) Mathematical model of regional socio-economic development of the Russian arctic zone resources. MDPI. Special Issue "Management of Comprehensive Development of the Arctic Territory". 8(1):45.https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9276/8/1/45

Rekord, S. (2019)Arctic as arena for cooperation or confrontation? Expert conclusions published within International Arctic Forum 2019 (in Russian).https://roscongress.org/sessions/iaf-2019-arktika-arena-protivostoyaniya-ili-sotrudnichestva/expert/

Voronin, M. (2019) Production and use of the LNG in Arctic. Expert conclusions published within International Arctic Forum 2019 (in Russian).https://roscongress.org/sessions/iaf-2019-proizvodstvo-i-ispolzovanie-spg-v-arktike/expert/

Maryandyshev, P. and Kangash, A. (forthcoming)Curbing black carbon emissions in the Arctic.To be published in 2020 as NDI Background Paper.

Thematic AreaHealthy Ageing

Golubeva, E. and Emelyanova, A. (2019) The Foster Family as a means of promoting social inclusion of older people in the Russian North. In: Naskali P., Harbison J., Begum S. (Eds.) New Challenges to Ageing in the Rural North. International Perspectives on Aging, 22. Springer, Cham.https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-20603-1_6

Thematic Area Culture

Soloviova, A. (forthcoming) Symbolic capital of the Russian North in the experience economy context. (manuscript prepared in 2019; to be published in 2020).

NDI Policy Brief 7: Systemic biomonitoring needed to mitigate Arctic health risks

Northern Dimension Institute Policy Brief 7 - December 2019

Systemic biomonitoring needed to mitigate Arctic health risks

This Policy Brief highlights the need for biomonitoring to assess the risks of public health disorders and negative demographic implications caused by the ingestion of hazardous pollutants into the human body. These pollutants can accumulate in food chains and spread with migratory species of commercial fish, birds and wild animals. Consequences of climate change increase the ingestion risks, and the dependence of indigenous peoples on the resources in their environment makes them particularly vulnerable. Hence, relevance of this issue for Russia and the Arctic countries is obvious and requires attention.

The mitigation of negative effects of climate change on the health of indigenous people in the Arctic requires the establishment of systemic biomonitoring at the legislative level.

Indigenous

The monitoring must

  • be implemented on a regular basis
  • take into account not only the effect of pollutants to the body, but also the deficiency of vital trace elements, such as iodine, iron, magnesium, etc., which are essential for the proper functioning of the body.
  • include chemical analysis of environmental samples, animals and birds, which indigenous peoples consume, as well as human biological samples (urine, blood, breast milk, hair, teeth).

Download the Policy Brief Systemic biomonitoring needed to mitigate Arctic health risks

Feel free to contact the team of authors at the Arctic Biomonitoring Laboratory, Northern Arctic Federal University, Arkhangelsk, Russia, for more information:

Tatiana Sorokinat.sorokina[at]narfu.ru

Anna Trofimova a.trofimova[at]narfu.ru

Julia Varakina yu.andreeva[at]nsrfu.ru

 

 

 

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