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Experts work on development strategy for Yakutia’s Arctic zone

The development strategy for Yakutia’s northern and Arctic districts will be ready this year

YAKUTSK, March 26. /TASS/. The development strategy for Yakutia’s 13 northern and Arctic districts will be ready by end of 2018. Experts suggest organizing there backbone growth points and developing the infrastructures’ complex, Head of Yakutia’s Center for Strategic Research Valentina Kondratyeva told TASS.

"Following an order by Yakutia’s Head Egor Borisov, we have been working on a strategy for development of the region’s Arctic zone to 2030," she said. "In 2017, we made preliminary research of the current social and economic development, and completed the SWOT-analysis. Besides, the regional government has organized a working group on the strategy’s final variant and its further implementation."

"I believe, this work will be completed by the yearend," the expert added.

Presently, the region implements a complex development program for Yakutia’s 13 Arctic and northern districts, which was adopted in 2014, she continued. "Over 2014-2016, the investments in the implementation made 17.8 billion rubles ($311 million); the money was used for support of the traditional Northern sectors, the infrastructures development, and raising the living standards," she said. "Despite the mentioned programs, the population’s outflow continues, the share of outdated housing is growing, the reindeer population is declining, and rates of the local agriculture and traditional sectors are falling."

The new strategy will present a new approach to "environmental development" of Yakutia’s Arctic zone, she said. "In the Arctic zone, there are 119 settlement, where 19 settlements do not have residents living there permanently, 15 have the population of under 100," she told TASS. "It is complicated to speak about comfortable conditions throughout the Arctic; it would be necessary to focus on development growth points, which are not related exclusively to raw materials’ production."

Industrial development’s new strategy

According to the expert, the strategy is a complex in all the 13 Arctic and northern districts, which a united single subject of management (Russia’s Arctic zone includes the region’s only 5 districts). The new strategy pays special attention to the role of sciences, use of scientific and innovative potentials. "Without new technologies, innovations, digital means the North’s economic development is impossible," she said. "At the same time, the industrial development will be fragmental."

The strategy’s draft expands the key systematic projects under the state program for development of the Arctic North-Yakutia backbone zone. Those are projects on reconstruction of the Tiksi port’s infrastructures, development of the Ust-Yana mineral-industrial cluster, the Verkhne-Munsky ore field. "Additional projects will focus on complex development of the transport and energy infrastructures," the expert said. "Besides, we have projects on the residents’ higher mobility, construction of social facilities, development of local small businesses, including the North’s traditional sectors."

Climate requires adjustments

According to the expert, a balance between development of the Arctic’s resources and keeping the unique eco-system, affected by the major climate changes, is a big challenge for the region. "The region’s Arctic zone is a very specific territory in terms of offering strategies," she said. "This territory requires special approaches to planning and development, certain untypical solutions." The new strategy’s draft eyes the global climate changes, she added.

The strategy’s authors used the region’s map of permafrost and landscapes, made by local specialists in permafrost. "For example, 29 settlements are located on cryo landscapes, which structurally have high shares of ice and which depend greatly on the climate changes," she said. "Plans for development of such settlements should rely on this factor, and in such area additional engineering and geology research would be necessary.".