Sergey Shoigu's speech at XV Congress

One of the main goals of our Congress is to sum up the activities of the Russian Geographical Society in the past five years.

All you know well the history of the Society, what was its line in different periods. And of course you remember a long period of stagnation, unacceptable for such a unique organization, in which it was staying during the last few decades. Today, I want to thank everyone who at the Special Congress in 2009 has decided to renew the Russian geographical Society and entrusted me to lead this important work.

Today I want to thank all those who in 2009, at an Extraordinary Congress has decided to revive the Russian Geographical Society and entrusted me to lead this important work.

For us it was crucial to preserve the great traditions of the Society and to build an effective and viable organization based on them.

To develop a modern management structure of the Society and organically integrate historically developed, and new commissions and councils into it.

Including the Board of Trustees, thanks to which we got an old format of patronage and managed to organize the grant support.

The legal framework was substantially revised, the adequate Charter of the Russian Geographical Society was approved and a strategy was created for its development.

The most important challenge and in many ways a symbol of the revival of the Russian Geographical Society was the reconstruction of its headquarters in St. Petersburg. It was made  with active participation of the Board of Trustees members. And thanks to them our headquarters got a second life. I would like to thank the initiator of this idea - Valentina Matvienko, who is a member of the Board of Trustees. She made a serious initiative, not only in the construction part, but in order to put to rights all of our library collections, archives and that, in fact, was done.

The building did not only get back its historical appearance, but was equipped with a modern system of data storage and processing of our real treasures - archives, cartography collection and library collections. It's more than 550,000 items, which thanks to the launch of the electronic library of the Society are available to people.

But the main thing is that the large visitor came back to the headquarters - partial, enterprising and inquisitive. Free lectures and masterclasses, exhibitions and tours were recommenced.

No less active life is going on in Moscow headquarters, which the Russian Geographical Society received in 2013. Equipped with the latest technology, it is ready to hold any kind of events - conferences, videoconferences, presentations. For this I would like to particularly thank a member of the Board of Trustees, Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin.

Both of our wonderful Houses successfully address key problems of the Russian Geographical Society. First of all they help people closer recognize the natural and cultural riches of Russia, they generate environmental awareness and willingness to participate in projects of the Russian Geographical Society, and thus benefit the Motherland.

The website of the Russian Geographical Society also serves the educational purpose. It is constantly updated with photo archives, articles, documents and video files. We also have pages on social networks. This is a must for any modern organization aimed at development of interest among members, particularly young people.

Aware of this fact, last year we organized the youth movement of the Russian Geographical Society. We will work together with Lomonosov Moscow State University on the platform of the Intellectual and Cognitive Centre for Youth.

The work with the younger generation started in 2009. For five years, it has involved more than 100,000 young people who took part in hundreds of interesting projects. Among them are expeditions, volunteer programs, environmental actions, rallies, competitions, research and practice schools.

In 2010, the Society became one of the organizers of the All-Russian Geography Olympiad. It  supports preparation of our teams participating in international olympiads on the subject. The result of this work: one gold, three silver and five bronze medals in the individual championship and one gold medal - in the team championship.

To ensure active cooperation with teaching staff of universities and schools, the Society has organized the All-Russian Congress of geography teachers. We maintain fruitful relations with the Russian Association of Geography Teachers.

Among the largest scientific and educational projects is "The Arctic Floating University". It was organized by our Arkhangelsk branch, Northern (Arctic) Federal University and the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring. By analogy with it in 2013 "The Far Eastern Floating University". The project involved more than 600 people, including representatives from 10 foreign countries.

During the period from 2010 to 2014 87 grants were given in this area and 59 projects were supported aimed at the development of school and university education, some 100 youth and school expeditions were organized. One of the most prominent and sought-after grant projects in this area was a series of television programs "Geography lessons" which became very popular. I should add that this series is one of the so-called media grants which the Society gives to promote geographical, historical and cultural knowledge.

Media Council of the Russian Geographical Society affirm applications for such grants. It is composed of respected leaders of the largest Russian media organizations: hosts, representatives of environmental agencies and community organizations.

The basis of today's Society are of course regional branches which work in all 85 regions of Russia. Regional Boards of Trustees, created in 23 districts are very important for their qualitative growth. Such form of activity as a cooperation agreement between managements of the regions and the Russian Geographical Society is also developing. Today we have 13 such agreements. The Council of Regions of the Russian Geographical Society has been formed. It includes 28 members - heads of regional branches of the Society, engaged in coordination of regional activities.

Regional Expert Councils have been formed. More then 500 specialists in the field of geography and related sciences participate in them.

Speaking about the bodies of the Russian Geographical Society, special attention should be paid to its commissions which implement the most significant projects.

First of all, the recreated Environmental and Ethnographic Commissions, and the new ones - the Commission of geographical and environmental education, of tourism development, of territorial  organization and planning.

In general we can say that during the reported period the largest geographical expert community in Russia was formed.

Its most competent  members formed the backbone of the Russian Geographical Society Expert Council.

In five years they have considered about three thousand applications, approved 297 grants and 119 thematic projects. And also 22 joint grants of the Russian Geographical Society and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research.

Overall, in 2010-2014 the Russian Geographical Society has allocated 50 grants for research and supported 41 projects.

We have received valuable scientific results that allow us to solve the problem of state, regional and local levels.

Modern electronic databases were developed.

Another important activity of the Society is nature protection.

From 2010 to 2014, 97 grants were given for this purpose and 72 thematic project were supported.

Thanks to allocated funds extensive work on the conservation of rare species of mammals have been carried out, expeditions were organized, the Arctic territories were cleaned up, environmental assessment was conducted and environmental atlases and maps were created.

The Russian Geographical Society has expanded the network of its partners.

It included reserves and national parks, research institutes and universities, as well as public organizations.

The Russian Geographical Society is actively developing the traditions of expeditions - they have always been and remain our key task.

From 2009 to 2014, more than 900 regional, national and international expeditions were organized. In 2011 the Expeditionary Center of the Society was created.

Perhaps the most large-scale one was the annual archaeological and geographical expedition "Kyzyl - Kuragino", which was launched in 2011.

About 2,000 people from Russia and 41 foreign countries took part in it and made some truly unique foundings.

Among other major projects, I would highlight the expedition in zone of "Fukushima-1" and the expedition "Selenga - Baikal".

Last year, with the aim to study and preserve the cultural and historical heritage of Russia we began active development of underwater research in the project "Marine glory of Russia". 

We also continue the publishing tradition of the Russian Geographical Society.

Total number of publications from 2009 to 2014 including publications of regional branches of the Society, exceeded 1,000 items.

The volume of publishing work can be compared only with the work of Publishing House "Geografgiz" in 1940-50s.

In 2012, popular magazine «Vokrug Sveta» became the official magazine of the Society.

Finally, the development of one of the key regulations of the Russian Geographical Society Strategy. The Society participated in more than 1,500 public scientific, educational, environmental and charitable events.

Here I would particularly highlight the International Forum "The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue".

We held three forums which were attended by over 1,700 well-known experts, statesmen, scientists and public men from 16 countries. More than 300 international conferences, exhibitions, seminars and meetings were organized. The number of participants exceeded 8,000.

In addition, a number of cooperation agreements with foreign geographical societies, research institutes and NGOs have been signed recently.

I have presented you a detailed report on the activities of the Russian Geographical Society in the last 5 years.

I hope you can see the full extent of the work done.

Summing up the results, I stress that everything that we managed to do together - is really great, serious work, which, undoubtedly is for the good of Russia.

And today, I take the opportunity to thank all those who have put their effort in it, their talents, skills and, of course their capital. All those who, under the auspices of the Russian Geographical Society promoted science, opened new pages in our history, researched, studied and preserved. The success of the state is formed of such useful, essential initiatives. Our nationwide success makes us pride of our country and gives us an incentive to go further, to new heights.

Actually, for the sake of it the Russian Geographical Society was established. I am sure it must remain so in the future. Thank you for your attention.