Heated bus-stops in Norilsk will become the standard for the entire Russian Arctic - the Minister for Development of the Far East and the Arctic

Heated bus-stops in Norilsk will become the standard for the entire Russian Arctic - the Minister for Development of the Far East and the Arctic

Expert Reports  

By November 1, 2024, master plans will be adopted aimed at the development of 16 key Arctic agglomerations where two thirds of the Russia’s Arctic population live. The positive experience of implementing the Comprehensive Plan for Socio-Economic Development of Norilsk will be used to develop the Arctic agglomerations.

Aleksey Chekunkov, the Russian Federation’s Minister for Development of the Far East and the Arctic, announced these intentions while discussing the implementation of the Basic Principles of the Russian Federation State Policy in the Arctic to 2035 at the Federation Council during the Government Hour.

“Both an integrated approach and the principle of the significant participation of businesses are relevant in this development, which ensures the interconnection of the Norilsk’s municipal authorities and the city’s key enterprise by a long-term development program, and the implementation of the plan is thoroughly monitored,” said the Minister for Development of the Far East and the Arctic adding that he visited the Arctic region in December 2023.

In particular, the Comprehensive Plan for Socio-Economic Development of Norilsk until 2035 that is under implementation on the basis of a public-private partnership provides for various measures to renovate the housing stock, modernize the housing and public utilities infrastructure and social facilities. “We will make some successful solutions, such as heated bus-stops, a standard for the entire Arctic,” he added.  

The Minister specifically noted the experience of the Norilsk Nickel company in resettling the citizens from the Far North. “The company gives priority to providing housing certificates in a proactive manner,” the minister continued.

As part of the development of the Arctic cities, our goal is to stimulate the construction of new houses and create a living environment ensuring comfortable life of people in the North, says Alexey Chekunkov. “The construction of new houses in Arkhangelsk is among the successful examples, as well as the development of settlements in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (District), and Norilsk where very good living conditions are created. We will implement the programs for the development of the Arctic cities to improve the living standards in the Arctic regions,” the minister said.

He added that similar to the Far East, a mechanism aimed at supporting the social development of the Arctic region has also been launched since 2022 within the framework of the Unified Presidential Subsidy program. “We provide support to the Arctic regions in the modernization of clinics, schools, landscaping and other pressing issues. So far, the money allocated is small, 4.5 bn rubles for 3 years, but we do our best to compensate by very precise solutions,” the minister said noting the relevance of an integrated approach and the principle of significant participation of the businesses in such projects.

Aleksandr Uss, the Senator from the Krasnoyarsk Territory, proposed to use the best practices already used in the Arctic and the Far East when implementing the Strategy of the Social-Economic Development of Siberia adopted last year. “It is necessary to use the experience gained and the support mechanisms that are already in place, as well as to carefully analyze the results obtained in these regions to improve the document on the development of Siberia.”

Valentina Matviyenko, the Chairwoman of the Council of Federation, noted that the state rests great hopes on the development of the Arctic. “There are all conditions for new points of economic growth, the emergence of high-tech enterprises, and improving the quality of life of the population.”

At the same time, Alexey Chekunkov is confident that in the coming years, the Arctic region should become more attractive not only for its residents, but also for tourists. “Traveling around the Arctic region is a new and very promising tourism segment. Sociologists presented the results of their study on the Russians’ satisfaction with traveling around the country. The tourists who traveled to the Arctic showed the highest percentage of positive reviews (97%), probably, because only a flight into space can give brighter impressions and experiences!” At the same time, the average cost of such tours is from 30,000 to 70,000 rubles.

By the late 2023, the tourist flow to the Arctic has already exceeded 1,100,000 people, said Alexey Chekunkov. Now, 130 new projects are under development using the state support in the Arctic tourism sector with declared investments of 43 bn rubles, and 2,300 new jobs will be created.

The most popular among the tourists going to the Arctic is the Khibiny Mountain Ski Resort in the Murmansk Region, as well as the Solovetsky Islands, the Onega Petroglyphs, the Great Arctic Reserve, Franz Josef Land, the Manpupuner rock formations in the Komi Republic, the Putorana Plateau in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, the Pole of Cold in Yakutia, and Wrangel Island. Spitsbergen, the northernmost inhabited archipelago in the world, should become one of the tourism anchors in the future, and it is actively visited by foreign tourists even now.

In addition to the seaside center Ocean, the children’s recreation, health and wellness center in the village of Bychikha (the Khabarovsk Territory), that is expected to be built on the principles of the Far Eastern concession is among the major projects for children’s recreation in the region, as well as the Polar Star children’s center in Yakutia.

Increasing the air route network and reducing the cost of air tickets should play an important role in improving the living standards in the Arctic region and in developing tourism. “Currently, more than 17 bn rubles a year are allocated to subsidize flights to the Arctic region; over 2 mn people travel using various types of subsidized tariffs. The President has set the task of adopting a target to double the number of people flying to the Far East by the 2030, up to 4 mn passengers, including tourists,” informed Alexey Chekunkov. According to the minister, the United Far Eastern airline Aurora has already the largest destination network in the country. The Minister for Development of the Far East and the Arctic expects the number of the Aurora airline’s routes to increase in the future and exceed 500. The authorities will work on improving the affordability of the main air routes and their availability, as well as passenger and freight transportation within the Far East and the Arctic region.