M.V. Lomonosov Northern (Arctic) Federal University is hosting the team of “Russian North – Solovetsky Islands”, a project seeking to promote youth cooperation across the Barents Region. Its first meeting, held on Friday, August 28, was followed by a trip to the Solovetsky Islands, where the young people from Norway, Sweden, Finland and North-West Russia had a tour around cultural, historical and natural heritage sites, followed by NArFU-organized conference titled “Russian North – Solovetsky Islands”. A number of presentations were delivered by Arkhangelsk Government, the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior and the Solovetsky Museum. The conference was also attended by students of NArFU Institute of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences; Higher School of Economics; and Institute of Natural Sciences and Biomedicine, who presented their research-based vision on how the Solovetsky Archipelago might be promoted in terms of its historical heritage, biodiversity and tourism, the latter being crucial to the area’s social and economic growth. In his speech Arkhangelsk Deputy Governor Roman Balashov outlined the development concept for the Solovetsky Archipelago and stressed how important it is to observe the interests of the church, the public authorities and the community when dealing with the tasks set.
Monday saw the project members hosting a round table “Best Practices of Barents Youth Governance: resource for international development.” They received welcome addresses from NArFU Vice-Rector for International Cooperation Marina Kalinina and Head of International Cooperation Department Lyubov Zarubina. The Vice-Rector stressed the increasing role of youth leadership in the Barents progress. “Involving young leaders in the decision-making poses them to questions like ‘How do we see the future of the Barents Region and where exactly might we come into picture? How can we contribute to the area’s sustainability and ‘attractive place to live in’ image? What input can we offer and where can universities help us?” said Marina Kalinina so as to invite sharing exchange and opinions on the questions set.
Another welcome address was given by Andrey Shalev, Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Norway and Director of the Barents Secretariat’s Information Office in Arkhangelsk. “We are happy to witness NArFU serving as a venue to the Barents youth to come together. We are open to your new ideas and can assure you that your initiatives will be supported,” said the Honorary Consul.
Sergey Sorokin, Head of NArFU Department for Social and Educational Work, noted that the round tables like that are, indeed, where new topics for international cooperation can emerge.
The welcome address part was followed by the presentations outlining the experience best practices of the youth governance. Among the speakers were members of Arkhangelsk youth government, NArFU Student Council and International Friendship Club; partner organizations in Sweden, Norway, Finland and North-West Russia. The students of the University of Lapland introduced the audience to how youth initiatives can be supported in Finnish rural municipalities. The youth self-government practices were also presented by Akhangelsk’s neighboring counties – Komi Republic (Ekaterina Konevskaya, Syktyvkar State University) and Republic of Karelia (Maksim Mashin, Petrozavodsk State University). No less interesting was the presentation by Alexander Falck, student of Uppsala University, who addressed the challenge of youth migration and highlighted the independent nature of the youth associations in his country.
The participants have agreed that the venues like theirs may prove useful in searching for answers. “This meeting is where we start. There is much we can share and tell each other about,” concluded Lyubov Zarubina before inviting the audience to re-ignite the dialogue on how the Barents youth cooperation could be promoted at the 3rd Belomorsky Student Forum that NArFU is hosting this November.
The round table participants spent the rest of the day on tour around Malye Korely wooden architecture museum. The agenda of their visit also includes the Youth House of Arkhangelsk Region and a number of venues set up to mark the Day of Knowledge.
International Cooperation Department