The opening session began with speeches by the President of Saint Petersburg University Liudmila Verbitskaya and UArctic President Lars Kullerud, both emphasizing the importance of international cooperation in forming the new North and training a new generation of northern leaders equipped with the skills necessary to make the North the best possible place to live in. The opening remarks of the two Presidents were followed by those of local representatives, among them the Vice-Governor of St Petersburg Igor Albin, SPbU Vice-Rector for Research Sergei Aplonov, and Russian Senior Arctic Official Vladimir Barbin who delivered greetings to the Congress participants from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The latter half of the opening session focused on meeting UArctic and the people behind the organization. Led by UArctic Vice-President Organization Outi Snellman, the session participants were greeted by all six UArctic Vice-Presidents and introduced to the staff members of four UArctic offices: the International Secretariat, the Thematic Networks and Research Liaison Office, the Research Office, and the Russian Information Office.

The opening session concluded with live piano music by Galina Zhukova and her interpretations of Elegy to the Arctic and Ode to Joy.