Russia hosts many of the largest cities in the Arctic. With increasing temperatures, growing resource extraction, and the possibility of more shipping through Arctic waters, this region of the world has become a focus of attention both for the Arctic countries, like the U.S. and Russia, and global competitors like China, Japan, and South Korea. In all the discussion of geopolitics and international trade, however, there is little attention paid to what it is like to actually live in the Arctic and how the cities there are faring in times of rapid change. This talk will report some of the preliminary results of a large National Science Foundation supported project to define and measure urban sustainability in Arctic conditions. It will explain how to measure sustainability in these conditions and illustrate the analysis with a discussion of important Russian cities, such as the coal-mining Vorkuta and the natural gas capital Salekhard.
Robert Orttung is the Research Director for Sustainable GW and a Research Professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University. He has published numerous books on Eurasia, including Putin’s Olympics, Sustaining Russia’s Arctic Cities (now in paperback!), and Advancing Reform in Ukraine. He is also the editor of Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization and a co-editor of the Russian Analytical Digest, a bi-weekly electronic newsletter that provides analysis of recent political, economic, and social events in Russia.