Maria Novita Saragi from YFoE Russia
"Nothing burns like the cold. But only for a while. Then it gets inside you and starts to fill you up, and after a while you don't have the strength to fight it." Said George R.R. Martin, the American writer who wrote the phenomenal series Game of Thrones.
The Arctic region might be cold but that doesn't stop the cooperation between people in the High North. From 24th to 26th November 2017 30 young people from Norway and Russia gathered and talked together about the environmental problems in the Barents Region. The Barents region is the territory along the coast of Barents sea which is through Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The cooperation in this region has been managing by Barents Secretariat since 2008. Natur og Ungdom (YFoE Norway) and 2 branches of Young Friends of The Earth Russia "AETAS" and "PiM" already have long time affiliation which keep up by The Barents Secretary. The High North Conference was organised by Natur og Ungdom Russian Projects and supported by Barents Secretary.
Mostly the participants were eco-activists from Northern Norway and Russia. Participants had the opportunities to attend lectures from severals experts, who work with environmental issues in the Barents region such as mining, oil drilling in the Arctic, nuclear issues in Norway and Russia, renewable energy and the rights of Indigenous people of the North. The conference was opened by Rune Rafaelsen the Mayor of Kirkenes. For the mayor it was a big honour to host this conference in Kirkenes. He hoped that this conference could be the bridge for the Norwegian and Russian youth. The day continued with an interesting lecture from Thomas Nils about the History of Environmental cooperation in the Barents region. He led an action which was a milestone in the Norwegian and Russian youth partnership 25 years ago, after the end of the Cold War.
On the second day we started the day with the excursion to the Sydvaranger Mine. There are no mining activities in this field due of bankruptcy in November 2008. During the excursion the Participants could see the mining area and hear the explanation about the mine. Besides the excursion and lectures the participants participating in activities like introduction games, saw a movie screening of the powerful film, "Sami Blood" which focuses on the experience of an indigenous woman in Sweden. There was also space for discussing future projects with another participants.
In the future there is a hope to make stronger the connection between people in the countries bordering the Barents because right now to build an accelerated environmental movement we can not just depend on governments we need everybody to take action for bright future of barents region.