On September 10, 2023, the Russian Geographical Society held a session "Expanding Humanitarian Cooperation Opportunities: Implementing International Academic and Educational Projects" at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok. As part of the Creative Business Forum, the participants of the event discussed projects in the field of education, science, culture, and environmental protection.
The session was opened by Ilya Gurov, First Deputy Executive Director of the Russian Geographical Society, who spoke about the scientific and educational work of the Russian Geographical Society. He paid special attention to the event "Geographical Dictation", aimed at popularizing knowledge about geography, history, and culture of Russia.
“Since the launch of the project in 2015, more than three million people in 126 countries around the world have participated in it. The Dictation is convenient for foreign citizens to take – the tasks are translated into six UN languages and Hindi by the foreign partners of the Russian Geographical Society themselves. In addition, the Society’s foreign partners send questions for the Dictation, which are included in the final versions," Gurov said.
Taking this opportunity, Ilya Gurov invited those present and their partners to join the Geographical Dictation in 2023, on November 19, as participants and organizers of the venues.
“We’re urging interested parties to register venues and offer partners abroad and in Russia to fill them with educational, cultural, and leisure activities. And the RGS will provide the organizers of the venues with information, advisory, and methodological support throughout the preparation for the event,” Ilya Gurov added.
The topic of attracting foreigners to participate in projects related to Russia was continued by Innokenty Dementiev, Deputy Director General of the Presidential Grants Fund. He elaborated on the grants allocated to the area of "Public Diplomacy", including the projects to promote successful Russian technologies abroad in the social and public sphere. Dementiev stressed that at the present stage public diplomacy was a valuable opportunity to maintain and strengthen ties with people who were ready to continue bilateral cooperation.
“An inquisitive part of society participates in such activities, and these are those who form the agenda. Exactly such people need to be involved in the projects related to Russia,” said Innokenty Dementiev.
Elena Galaktionova, Deputy Director of the Department for Multilateral Humanitarian Cooperation and Cultural Relations of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke about the development of humanitarian cooperation at the state level. In this area, support is being provided for the study of the Russian language abroad, youth cooperation, the development of relationships in the field of sports, tourism, science, and education.
“In 2022, the incoming tourist flow to Russia decreased by 25 times. At the same time, this period provides us with a chance to make a qualitative breakthrough in the domestic tourism industry, develop new routes, update existing clusters and create new ones, work on logistics so that Russia can enter the world market refreshed and ready to receive tourists in large volume. This is, of course, very important, since tourism, like no other sphere, provides an opportunity for direct contact between people," Elena Galaktionova stressed.
During the session, the President of the Geographical Society of China, Professor Chen Fahu, addressed the audience in a video message. He noted the long-term fruitful cooperation between the organization headed by him and the RGS.
“The main driving force of academic exchanges between China and Russia is youth. Within the framework of a long-term cooperation project, mutual visits of young geographers are held annually. During such events, scientists actively share the results of scientific research, which contributes to deepening mutual understanding and strengthening friendship between our peoples," Chen Fahu said.
The participants of the session also talked about the so-called "tiger diplomacy". Sergey Aramilev, Director General of the Amur Tiger Center ANO, spoke about Russia's cooperation with 13 countries of the Asia-Pacific region within the framework of the program for the study of cross-border groups of the Amur tiger.
“It is obvious that animals have no borders, no passports. In 2010, the international ‘Tiger Forum’ was held, thereby the tiger became the first animal that gathered people at such a high level for the purpose of its protection. At the same time, it is extremely important to maintain close cooperation at the level of non-profit organizations, since in this case the exchange of information and observation results is faster," Sergey Aramilev noted.
He also stressed the importance of tourism and the development of nature protection measures.
“We consider nature to be the key to international cooperation, because, unlike culture and cuisine, it cannot be taken out of the country: to see the nature of Russia, you need to come here, and vice versa. In this regard, the development of eco-tourism and related infrastructure is important," Sergey Aramilev added.
Daria Loyola, Head of the RGS Center in France, spoke about the numerous projects that are being implemented in France even in the conditions of the complicated geopolitical situation. She mentioned lectures by Russian scientists and travelers for French schoolchildren and students, teleconferences between students of the two countries, exhibitions dedicated to outstanding Russian researchers, intellectual games related to different regions of Russia.
“The activity of our center shows that it is possible, on the basis of a common desire for intellectual discoveries and a love of geography, to find an oasis of something good. We want to support and develop such a source of dialogue," Daria Loyola stressed.
The Vice-Rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) Polina Nemirovchenko spoke about the provision of educational services. Projects of this type are implemented together with large Russian businesses and include foreign components, which makes it possible to attract foreign students, and allows Russians to gain international experience.
“As part of the expansion of humanitarian cooperation, two months ago, the Presidential Academy launched a short-term program for representatives of African countries to familiarize themselves with the nuances of cooperation between the EAEU countries, as well as between Russia and Africa. The project was prepared at the request of our African colleagues, and we hope that it only develops," said Polina Nemirovchenko.
Vyacheslav Manuilov, Deputy Head of the Department of Foreign Economic and International Relations of the City of Moscow, spoke about the participation of the Russian capital in the international agenda.
“Moscow has more than 200 partners on all continents of the world. Intercity and regional aspects are very important in the implementation of international programs related not only to the economy, but also to science and the social sphere. For example, the partnership of cities can contribute to perpetuating the memory of scientists and cultural figures of various countries. Moscow involves city museums, theaters, libraries in such work. The capital is also actively working on programs to support compatriots, supply materials for studying the Russian language, literature, and culture," Manuilov stressed.
At the end of the session, moderated by TV and radio presenter Andrey Petrov, the participants exchanged views on the possibilities of expanding interaction formats, scaling existing programs, and developing new initiatives.