Exploring the Northern Dimension

NDI Policy Brief 16: Decarbonizing road passenger transport in the ND area

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This policy brief elaborates recommendations for road passenger transport decarbonization in the Northern Dimension (ND) area. On the one hand, road transport emits 25% of total greenhouse gas in ND countries and produces dangerous local pollutions, and the share of passenger transport of these emissions is more than 75% [1] Nitrogen oxide, sulphur oxide and particular matter emissions are the reason for numerous lung and breathe diseases of city inhabitants. On the other hand, road transport gives people invaluable freedom of movement, as people commute every day to work, study and leisure. Average motorization rate is over 50% in ND countries [2, 3]. This raises the key question: How can people keep their freedom of movement but pollute less? There are several ways to decarbonize road passenger transport, such as optimizing driving needs according to ecological criteria, remote work or study, using 2 and 3 wheelers empowered by human or electricity, sharing mobility services with others, and driving less polluting cars such as hybrid, electric or gas vehicles. All these options influence traditional behavior, which needs to be considered in developing policies for road passenger transport decarbonization.

  • Recommendation 1. Inform people about climate and ecological issues and thus influence positively consumer behavior, and popularize ecomobility.
  • Recommendation 2. Develop infrastructure and services for carbon-free mobility and sharing. Support eco infrastructure.
  • Recommendation 3. Balance between economic, ecological, and social needs. Limit the use of polluting transport wherever and whenever it is possible. Ensure access to mobility for people living in remote areas and for low-income people.
  • Recommendation 4. Make a realistic long-term vision, which includes support for R&D, development of carbon footprint trackers that find the optimal ecological and economic model of sustainable transport system, as well as learning from international experience.
  • Recommendation 5. Support more intensive technology transfer, joint research, pilot projects, and NGO initiatives among ND countries.

Download the policy brief: Decarbonizing road passenger transport in the ND area (PDF)

For more information, please contact the authors:
Natalia Sarakhanova, Saint Petersburg State University of Economics, sarahanova.n [a] unecon.ru
Dmitry Vasilenko, Saint Petersburg State University of Economics, dvasilenko [a]  finec.ru
Vasily Zinin, National Gas Vehicle Association, v.zinin [a] ngvrus.ru

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

NDI POLICY BRIEF 15: Accident information is needed to prevent emergencies in the Arctic waters

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Increasing economic activity in the Russian Arctic has resulted in the growth of vessel traffic related to trade, exploration and research, marine tourism, and natural resource extraction activities. This has heightened the risk of maritime accidents. Navigation and rescue response are challenging in the High North due to its harsh weather and ice conditions, long distances, and vulnerable nature. Therefore, it is important to raise awareness about the potential risks in order to prevent accidents. Here, the analysis of previous accidents in the Arctic waters provides valuable lessons for the future. Such analysis requires summarizing, visualizing and openly sharing accident information. This is not yet the case for the Russian Arctic and therefore it would be valuable to develop public digital sources that contain such accident information.

  • Recommendation 1: To develop an effective mechanism for the utilization of risk analysis and accident data to improve emergency preparedness and safety level in the Arctic waters.
  • Recommendation 2: To introduce a digital platform for sharing information about maritime accidents happened in the Russian Arctic and emergency resources available. This platform could be linked to other relevant platforms already existing in Russia and other Arctic countries.
  • Recommendation 3: To make sure that all actors involved contribute to the analysis and sharing of data related to accidents, and control the quality of the data as to their format and accuracy.


The map and data service of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission

Download the policy brief: Accident information is needed to prevent emergencies in the Arctic waters (PDF)

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

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


The NDI Think Thank Action conducts research on thematic areas jointly agreed with the ND partnerships. The themes for the Action include climate change impact in the Arctic, emerging transport and logistics routes between Europe and Asia, healthy ageing and creative industries' contribution to societal challenges in the ND area. The intellectual outputs of this research include policy briefs, background papers and other scientific publications. The following publications have been prepared in the framework of the Action during 2020.

NDI Policy Briefs

Siluanova L., Kuznetsova S., Yakhyaev D., Grigorishchin A., Hairova T., 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

Vienonen M. Preventing premature deaths in the Northern Dimension area. NDPHS/NCD Expert Group. NDI Policy Brief 9/June 2020. http://northerndimension.info/images/Policybriefs/PYLL_policy_brief_final.pdf

Soloviova A. Symbolic resources of the Russian North in the global experience economy. Policy Brief 10/June 2020. http://northerndimension.info/images/Policybriefs/Culture_Soloviova_Policy_Brief_final.pdf

Erokhin D. Arctic shipping needs anti-avoidance rules to mitigate environmental disasters. NDI Policy Brief 11/December 2020. http://www.northerndimension.info/images/Policybriefs/Erokhin_FINAL_v3.pdf

Maryandyshev P. Wind Energy is a key solution for remote area energy supply in the High North of Russia. NDI Policy Brief 12/December 2020. http://northerndimension.info/images/Policybriefs/Maryandyshev_FINAL_v2.pdf

Vainiomäki P. Analysis of subjective wellbeing is important for wellbeing development in the Northern Dimension area. NDI Policy Brief 13/December 2020. http://northerndimension.info/images/Policybriefs/Vainiomaki_NDI_Policy_Brief.pdf

NDI Background Papers

Zaikov K., Sobolev N. Marine Plastic Debris Pollution in the Russian Arctic. NDI Background Paper 1/September 2020. http://northerndimension.info/images/Backgroundpapers/Marine_Plastic_Debris_Pollution_in_the_Russian_Arctic_-_NDI_Background_Paper.pdf

Kuznetsova S. Polar Code and other measures to improve safety of shipping in the Arctic. NDI Background Paper 2/December 2020. http://northerndimension.info/images/Backgroundpapers/Polar_Code_-_NDI_background_paper.pdf

Academic articles and other scientific publications

Grigorishchin A., Stepanova V., Finger M.P. (2020) Infrastructural potential of the Russian Arctic land territories. Corporate Governance and Innovative Economic Development of the North; Bulletin of Research Center of Corporate Law, Management and Venture Investment of Syktyvkar State University. No 4. 25-33. http://vestnik-ku.ru/ru/spetsvypuskhttp://vestnik-ku.ru/en/special-issue

Erokhin, D. Rovenskaya, E. (2020) Regional scenarios of the Arctic futures: A review. IIASA Working Paper. International Institute for Applied System Analysis. http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/id/eprint/16648/

Sorokina T., Trofimova A., Kondratov N., Shumilova Yu (2020). Impact of climatic effects on the environment and the economy of the Russian Arctic. IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science 539 5th International Conference Arctic: History and Modernity 18-19.3.2020 St Petersburg, Russia. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1755-1315/539/1/012033

Golubeva E., Emelyanova A. (2020). Policy initiatives on healthy ageing in Russia from 2010 to 2020. European Journal of Mental Health. 15 (2), 93-110. https://doi.org/10.5708/EJMH.15.2020.2.2

Vasilenko D.V., Zinin V. L., Sarakhanova N. S. (2020) Decarbonization of private and public transport in the Northern Dimension region. Decarbonization of Transport in the Northern Dimension region. Vol 1. St. Petersburg Unecon Publishing House.
(original publication is in Russian: Декарбонизация транспортного сектора в регионе Северного измерения. В 6 ча- стях. Ч. 1. Декарбонизация сегмента автомобильного транспорта в регионе Северного измерения / Д.В. Василенко, В.Л. Зинин, Н.С. Сараханова. – СПб. : Изд-во СПбГЭУ, 2020. – 74 с. ISBN 978-5-7310-4990-0 (часть 1))

Vasilenko D., Zinin V., Sarakhanova N. (2020). Decarbonization of transport in the Northern Dimension countries. Alternative Fuel Transport (In russian Транспорт на альтернативном топливе). Vol. 4(76), Vol. 5(77) and Vol. 6(78).

Rekord S. Development of International Consortia with Arctic and Non-Arctic States in Russia’s Arctic zone. UNECON. Reports of the 15th International Scientific Conference Contemporary Management: problems and perspectives 2020.

Haubrock J., Babich S., Novozhilova E. General Trends of German Energy Development. UNECON. Reports of the 2nd International Conference Humanitarian Studies and Contemporary Challenges 2020.

Babich S., Belyaeva N., Petrova K. UNECON. Perspectives of Norwegian and Finnish regional economies in Arctic zone. UNECON. Reports of 2nd International conference Humanitarian Studies and Contemporary Challenges 2020.

Kulikov D. Challenges of hydrogen as a perspective fuel in energy transition. UNECON. Reports of International Forum Mining University 2020. https://1drv.ms/u/s!Aq78kBMK1l_ik_Nxd0q5e290ZbYFdQ?e=UsU6xn


In addition to the above list of outputs, the following intellectual contributions were prepared in 2020 and were in the editing process at the end of the year:

Forthcoming NDI publications

Emelyanova A., Golubeva E. Healthy ageing policy in Russia needs to consider gender, age, and territory. (manuscript prepared in 2020, published in 2021)

Kuznetcova S. Accident information is needed to prevent emergencies in the Arctic. 

Popkova S. Environmental protection in the Arctic needs more measures and monitoring. 

Babitch S, Rvacheva A., Zasukhina Y.,  Bulaeva M., Tagirova D. It is the best time to decarbonize the Baltic Sea Region. 

Zadorin M. Prospects for the development of the White Sea-Baltic Canal as a transit hub of the Northern Sea Route. (manuscript prepared in 2020, published in 2021)

Other academic articles and intellectual contributions, not yet published

Kuznetcova S. New approaches to provide safety through Northern Sea Route. (manuscript prepared in 2020, not yet published).

Grigorischin A., Zadorin M., Sorokina T., Yahyaev D., Bashkina I. Economic and other barriers to the Northern Sea Route exploitation in the context of Pan-Asian trade and their potential overcoming. (manuscript prepared in 2020, not yet published). 

Vasilenko D.V., Zinin V.L., Sarakhanova N.S. Decarbonization of Transport in the Northern Dimension region. Vol 2. Decarbonization of Trucks and Heavy Transport in the Northern Dimension region. (manuscript prepared in 2020, not yet published).

Zaikov K., Sobolev N. Assessment of the surface water pollution by microplastic in the Western Russia Arctic. (manuscript prepared in 2020, not yet published).

Rautio A., Piippo S., Pongrácz E., Golubeva E., Soloviev A., Grini I., Helgesen H. Healthy food practices, nutritional guidelines and food waste in the Arctic of Norway, Russia and Finland. (manuscript prepared in 2020, not yet published).

Soloviova A. Analysis of the creative platforms that represent the Northern Russian culture. (manuscript prepared in 2020, not yet published).


NDI POLICY BRIEF 14: Healthy ageing policy in Russia needs to consider gender, age, and territory

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The Russian government has adopted various national policies and programs in the last decade in response to population ageing in the country. We analyzed the targets and actions of two ongoing healthy ageing policies, and how their effectiveness could be improved. We suggest the national (Federal) level authorities to take the following recommendations into account:

  • Recommendation 1: To separate program targets and indicators by gender, and to develop different actions for men and women on the national level, taking into account regional differences in demographics across the Russian Federation.
  • Recommendation 2: To separate program targets and indicators by age between the younger and older elderly, and to tailor different supportive activities for each sub-group in the highly heterogeneous category of older population.
  • Recommendation 3: To create a mechanism for collaboration between the social service and health care sectors to enable the development of a comprehensive and long-term care system. In this development work it is important to analyze best practices from the international experience, and to adapt them to the Russian context.
  • Recommendation 4:To take the urban-rural dimension and the urbanization process into account in the program design. Many good practices and successful actions have been developed in large cities, and therefore need to be carefully analyzed to adapt them to the conditions of remote sparsely populated and rural territories in Russia.

Download the policy brief: Healthy ageing policy in Russia needs to consider gender, age, and territory (pdf) 

For more information, please contact the authors:
Anastasia Emelyanova, University of Oulu, anastasia.emelyanova [a] oulu.fi
Elena Golubeva, Northern Arctic Federal University, Arkhangesk, Russia, e.golubeva [a] narfu.ru

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

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

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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 subjective wellbeing 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 the subjective wellbeing 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 subjective wellbeing was improving slowly during the period of investigation, and that there were several factors connected to subjective wellbeing. 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 are 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

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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 time to assess how its implementation has affected the 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, the 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

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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

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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

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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


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