In the opening plenary "The Mystery of the Geological History of the Arctic Ocean Sea Ice Cover" Professor Jörn Thiede described through geological examples how changes in the Arctic Ocean sea ice cover, including its disappearance, are not an entirely new phenomenon, but something that has been happening throughout history in varying degrees.

The session continued with a lecture from Professor Alexander Sergunin on the shifting paradigms of Arctic security and international cooperation. Professor Sergunin emphasized how the notion of security in the Arctic is shifting from hard/military to soft/human security, from negative to positive security, and gave examples on potential cooperation areas for both spheres.

The plenaries concluded with Professor Shinichiro Tabata's introduction to the results of a bilateral Japan-Finland project on the sustainable development of the Russian Far North, especially in relation to oil and gas production. While there are obvious risks and challenges ranging from environmental issues to political stability, it is also possible to have a promising future in this area.