“We are creating a new North”: SPbU opens the first-ever UArctic Congress

The Congress brings together over 500 world’s leading scientists and up-and-coming researchers who particularly focus on the Arctic.

“To my mind, it is very important and symbolic, — said SPbU President Lyudmila Verbitskaya. — We have gathered in St Petersburg, and that is not by coincidence or accident, since St Petersburg has been so far constructing the most advanced research vessels and arranging, for a great number of years, polar expeditions. St Petersburg University is by no means a coincidence either as SPbU scientists have been carrying our extensive research in the Arctic as climate changes are affecting every form of the life in the Arctic. The Arctic and Antarctic have long since been experiencing immense ecological and other problems which require global scientific community, as well as governments, to intensify their joint efforts, in educating and preparing researchers and experts in particular.  The University of the Arctic is an outstanding example of the global research collaboration”.

Unlike SPbU, the University of the Arctic is not rich in history, still scientists may, by expanding their efforts, start to take a different approach to the region, said Lars Kullerud, President of the University of the Arctic.  “The essence of what we are doing is creating a new science about the North, — said he. — We are creating a new North and we are in a historic moment. St Petersburg is just the place to gain momentum”.

“St Petersburg, to my mind, had a decisive role in developing and exploring the North. Recently, the Baltic Shipyard has successfully launched the today’s most advanced nuclear-powered icebreaker “Arktika”, as has started to construct the hulls of new watercrafts which were specially designed for the Northern Fleet, — said the Chairperson of the St Petersburg’s Legislative Assembly Vyacheslav Makarov. — In a short time, St Petersburg is going to be a centre to build the nuclear icebreaking fleet. Exploring the Arctic is evidently for those who are strong and brave, both morally and physically, and the names of the first explorers of the Arctic will be fixed in history”.

Both in research and education, the University focuses on the Arctic, by developing educational programmes on the Arctic in particular, said SPbU Vice-Rector for Research Sergey Aplonov. “Currently, SPbU implements 254 research projects on the Arctic. This year, the University is opening SPbU Arctic Centre. Importantly, the Arctic, for St Petersburg, is not merely about fishing industry and fossil fuels extraction. It is our home”, — said Sergey V. Aplonov.

St Petersburg Vice-Governor Igor Albin visited the UArctic Congress. “St Petersburg justly coordinates research on the Arctic: St Petersburg has established a number of social and educational institution with a particular focus on educating and preparing polar scientists and explorers, it has the Admiralty Shipyards and Baltic Shipyard. It is our pleasure to have St Petersburg as a place to hold the Congress”, — said Vice-Governor.

The Congress’s five-day programme  focuses on conference’s panel discussions on a wide range of issues on the Arctic, UArctic’s Rector and student forums, presentation of a unique book on the geo-marine explorations, a number of master-classes for young scientists and others. The UArctic Congress is planned to be held every four year.

On the first UArctic Congress’s opening ceremony, Galina Zhukova, SPbU Associate Professor and a prize winner of the international piano contests, played the European Anthem and Ludovico Einaudi’s “Elegy for the Arctic”. 

Background Info:

The University of the Arctic (UArctic) is a cooperative network of 180 universities, colleges, research institutes and other organisations from 16 countries concerned with education and research in and about the North. UArctic builds and strengthens collective resources and collaborative infrastructure that enables member institutions to better serve their constituents and their regions. Through cooperation in education, research and outreach we enhance human capacity in the North, promote viable communities and sustainable economies, and forge global partnerships.