The UArctic Congress spanned from pre-meetings that furthered collaboration activities of the UArctic network and the memorable opening ceremonies at the Twelve Colleges building of St. Petersburg University, through a number of intense days of meetings, keynote plenaries, and over 250 scientific presentations. Throughout the week’s program, the participants have been treated to historic cultural visits to some of St. Petersburg’s amazing offerings including St. Isaak’s Cathedral, the Hermitage, Peterhof Palace, and the gala dinner at the Fortress of Peter and Paul.
The Congress concluded with a closing panel on the “Future of the Arctic” moderated by Lars Kullerud (UArctic) and featuring Sergey Aplonov, (St. Petersburg University), Diane Hirshberg (University of Alaska Anchorage, Aleksi Härkönen (Government of Finland), Evon Peter (University of Alaska Fairbanks), and Tero Vauraste (Vice-Chair, Arctic Economic Council).
Lars Kullerud, UArctic President, remarked, “St. Petersburg has been the perfect location for this historic first UArctic Congress. The opportunities for friendship and cooperation have been fantastic, and we have accomplished much in our work to further develop international cooperation in higher education and research in the Arctic region.”
UArctic’s Vice-President Organization Outi Snellman further emphasizes, “The event’s success is a testament to the excellent cooperation between the organizers and planners at the International Secretariat (University of Lapland), UArctic Thematic Networks and Research Liaison Office (University of Oulu), Research Office (Northern (Arctic) Federal University) and the host institution St. Petersburg University.
The business of the Council of UArctic welcomed eight additional members of the network: Churapchinsky State Institute for Physical Education and Sports, Trent University, University of Colorado, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of North Dakota, Korea Polar Research Institute, Nanjing University of Information, Science and Technology, and Universität Hamburg. Six new Thematic Networks were approved, including networks on Arctic Coastal Communities for Sustainability, Arctic Economic Science, Arctic Safety and Security, Language Documentation and Language Technologies for Circumpolar Region, Sustainable Arctic Resources and Social Responsibility, and Sustainable Production and Foraging of Natural Products in the North.
The UArctic Rectors’ Forum had opportunities to meet together with the Board, Thematic Networks and most importantly the representatives of the Student Forum, who discussed ways that circumpolar higher education, networking and cooperation can be improved. Through these processes, the UArctic Congress Declaration was approved by all bodies of UArctic. The final Declaration, as well as the response from the Student Forum, are available for download from the UArctic website.
“St. Petersburg University is immensely proud to have been able to host the first UArctic Congress, and we see this as a significant step forward for both the members of the University of the Arctic, as well as the large community of scientists and students that are engaged in producing new knowledge about our region.” concluded St Petersburg University Vice-Rector for Research Sergey Aplonov.
The next UArctic meetings of will take place in August 2017 with the Council meeting at the University of Greenland in Nuuk, and the Rectors Forum at the University of Aberdeen, in Scotland. The next UArctic Congress is planned to take place in Finland during its period as chair of the Arctic Council.
For a full set of news highlights from the UArctic Congress, see the UArctic website (www.uarctic.org) and #uarcticcongress2016 on social media. The Congress was organized with the support of the Government of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the Administration of Saint-Petersburg, the RUSNANO Fund, the Russian Geographical Society, the TASS News Agency, the State Hermitage Museum, the Azimut hotel group, the Arctic Youth Competence centre, the Springer publishing house and the Restek enterprise group..