Hydrocarbon resources are not infinite, oil and gas workers move on to new fields as time goes on, but reindeer breeders and fishers stay on their lands. And in order to provide for their future, it is important to preserve the environment, reindeer pastures and fishing resources. Therefore, modernization and innovation in the field of hydrocarbon extraction are essential in order to preserve the natural environment and the traditional places of residence of the small-numbered indigenous peoples in the traveller community.
One has to understand a simple truth: the traditional employment and the lifestyle of people living in the tundra is the basic foundation for their personal identity and their development. They are accustomed to hard work on a daily basis. Otherwise they simply would not survive, and also everybody works for their family. The chum (tent) has to be set up, firewood has to be gathered, ice on the river has to be broken, deer have to be led to new pastures and protected from wolves, hides need to be processed and malicas (deerskin overcoats) sewn. And this is how it is from early morning to late evening, year in year out. For tourists the North is something exotic, but for the indigenous people living there it is their beloved homeland.
However, the standard and quality of living among small-numbered indigenous peoples remains below the average for the Arctic regions. It is therefore necessary to address issues such as the provision of social and health services, the development of the agricultural industry and transport system, and much more.
One of the main problems in remote villages is the level of employment among the local population. Due to the low level of competitiveness of the Aboriginal people of the North on the labour market, their main areas of employment are still traditional economic activities - reindeer husbandry, fishing, harvesting, crafts, gathering wild plants and work in sanctuaries and nature reserves.
Unlike labour migrants who come and work on a rotational basis, indigenous people know more and have a more careful attitude towards the natural environment. Therefore conditions have to be created for young professionals to return home, to the North, after finishing university. It is also necessary to encourage graduates from indigenous families to learn skills that are required and are in demand in their places of residence. This includes reindeer breeders, fishermen, doctors, nurses, veterinarians, and in areas of industrial development (Yamal, Norilsk) - drillers, engineers and oil and gas specialists. The most important thing is for members of indigenous populations to have the opportunity to be employed in the area they live in.
However, although guarantees of the rights of indigenous peoples are set out in federal law, they are not fully implemented. Issues of realizing the right of indigenous peoples to use land resources (the right to use the land is recognised, but there is no legal content) remain unresolved. There are questions regarding the regulation of traditional fisheries within the framework of the Federal Law On Fishing, which does not take into account the interests of indigenous peoples. For nomads, a fish is not a source of financial gain, but a basis for their diet, they do not catch fish in large quantities; for them fishing is a means of survival.
In addition to this, tax incentives are also needed for the maintenance and development of Russian reindeer herders and fishermen living in the Arctic. The transport component of the Far North is another issue. Small aircraft need to be developed in order to prevent small villages and remote nomad camping grounds becoming isolated. I also believe it is important to develop river passenger shipping, as river transport is the only means of transport between towns situated along rivers.
Effective regional, and possibly federal programs also need to be adopted in order to build low-rise housing in all Arctic villages. In order to do this we can draw on the experience of Norway, Canada and Alaska in developing similar settlements and providing basic living conditions. Only this kind of approach will enable us to speak of truly sustainable development of the Russian Arctic and the feasibility of realising Russia’s national interests there.