Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 453

453 Arctic Yearbook 2015 Day 1-3: from Finland to Russia The symposium started in Rovaniemi, the capital of Northern Finland and home to the University of Lapland on the 31st of May with a conference reception hosted by the city of Rovaniemi. In the following day, it was time for the academic sessions to begin. This year’s conference program consisted of research presentations by participants as well as brainstorming meetings, and already the first day effectively combined these two types of activity. First two sessions, both focusing on political sciences − “Resources, Energy and Security” and “International Cooperation, Arctic Strategies, Science Diplomacy and Security” − covered the trending processes in the globalized Arctic. The presenters discussed the role of resources for Arctic development and management, ways of developing and implementing Arctic strategies by different states, and new political challenges in the region (mostly connected to Russian international policies). As anticipated, the discussions were animated and even heated, however the general idea of reaching a consensus prevailed throughout the debates. The brainstorming meetings included discussions of major research projects, international scientific activities and other topics aimed at career development; on the first day’s session, a new research network initiative Global Arctic was presented, and the participants were given a chance to discuss their possible future contributions and collaboration. Day two was the first border-crossing day during the symposium. After a short morning session that included a presentation by the mayor of Salla municipality and some research insights into Salla’s life and development (a result of a cross-border research project itself!), the group started making its way towards Russia. This journey both busted some myths about Russia and supported others. Indeed, the border crossing was smooth and took little time (proof that the physical boundaries are easily permeable), which left some time to visit the borderland Russian municipality of Alakurtti, the base of the newly established Arctic Brigade of the Russian Army (which proves that the Russian military buildup in the Arctic is real). The road to Apatity, the Academy home for the next two nights, was much better than anticipated: the infamous gravel road from the border to the highway was partly freshly paved, which made the journey smooth and fast, unlike the general perception of the poor quality of Russian roads. However, the sad surprise was a vivid ethnographic insight into Russian life: the pipe maintenance in Apatity resulted in the absence of hot water in the whole town, confirming that Russia still has much to do in its transition from the Soviet period. Day 4-5: from Russia to Norway The third day, hosted by the Luzin Institute for Economic Studies of the RAS Kola Science Center, comprised mainly of presentations by Russian participants focusing on economics. Unfortunately, the dramatic changes in the Russian economy made it virtually impossible for regional Russian researchers to make the entire journey with the rest of the Academy, but this day managed to bridge this gap and secure full Russian participation in this important cross-border activity. The participants focused mainly on the economics of energy development of the Russian Arctic, crossborder cooperation in the Barents Region, and issues of social and environmental sustainability in the circumpolar north. It is to be noted that the language of the science doesn’t recognize the political boundaries: all the talks − even if delivered through an interpreter − contained valuable insights into the global processes and provided ground for interesting discussions. One can only Vlakhov & Lempinen