Good afternoon, friends. I am also pleased to see you all here.
We have gathered again in the historic headquarters of the Russian Geographical Society in St Petersburg where our organisation has devised most of its projects. And today we will see new initiatives, which will be transformed into life largely thanks to you, members of the Board of Trustees, and to all those who have been volunteering and showing interest in helping the Russian Geographical Society in its work.
Your support makes it possible for us to organise hundreds of events across our giant country every year, and, most importantly, to unite people around truly significant and useful projects aimed at preserving our natural wealth, our history and the traditions of the peoples of the Russian Federation.
I would like to mention the Russian Geographical Society’s educational projects, which include large-scale publishing activities, popular lectures and the Russian National Geographical Dictation, which was organised in Russia for the first time and will now become an annual event. In addition, of course, it is the concept of developing education in geography, which was initiated by the society and developed as a result of lengthy and detailed debates with the Ministry of Education and Science.
It will be presented for public discussion shortly and everyone, from schoolchildren to academics at the Russian Academy of Sciences, will have the chance to express their opinion, so that the results can be summed up at the Congress of Russian Geography Teachers in autumn.
This congress is another tradition that has been revived by the Society, and its participants have repeatedly mentioned problems with geographic literacy and stated that in a vast country like Russia geography should occupy a more significant place in school and university curriculums and also called for new textbooks and fresh teaching approaches.
I must say the Russian Geographical Society has recently been expanding its debate venues, including within its international activities. The organisation has so far signed cooperation agreements with 22 foreign partners and many of them have been put into practice.
Furthermore, it was thanks to the Russian Geographical Society’s influence that for the first time in 40 years Moscow was selected as the venue for a conference of the International Geographical Union. Last year, the conference gathered over 1,500 participants from 73 countries and showed the true priorities of science, culture and education representatives, as well as their unity and commitment to lofty humanist values.
It so happened that during the conference we marked the Russian Geographical Society’s 170th anniversary. However, time passes quickly and soon, in 2020, we will be marking its 175th anniversary. I believe that it is logical and appropriate, ahead of this important date, to prepare a major comprehensive publication, a kind of a guide to the Society’s and Russia’s great geographical discoveries.
I am sure that this book will be popular. After all, the names and events related to the Russian Geographical Society are part of this country’s history, its prominent, glorious pages. Consider, for example, RGS expeditions, which have always been its calling card. It is encouraging that more and more people, especially young people, are eager to participate in them, as is evidenced by the tough competition among the volunteers.
There is great demand for both research and environmental projects. In other words, there is good reason to say that RGS is fully accomplishing its mission: it stimulates interest in the study of one’s own country and the desire for creative, positive patriotic work.
Moreover, of course, as the pacesetter in Russia’s environmental preservation traditions, [RGS] actively promotes environmental awareness among our people and implements a large number of useful and timely initiatives in this area, some of which become independent projects. Suffice it to recall the Amur tiger and Far Eastern leopard conservation fund. I hope the projects launched today will also develop successfully and I wish their participants genuine success.
I would like again to thank all those who actively support the organisation’s initiatives. It gives me great satisfaction and pleasure, together with RGS President Sergei Shoigu, to present Russian Geographical Society awards to those who are continuing and preserving its traditions. I hope that we will do this today during our joint work.
Thank you very much.
I think that our infrequent but regular meetings are taking on a somewhat pleasant and family-like but at the same time useful and constructive atmosphere. And all the more so as there is no greater pleasure than supporting talented and active people, which is exactly what we are doing ‒ I am now addressing members of the Board of Trustees ‒ and feeling that along with our current work we can make additional efforts, outside our usual routine. This is always pleasant, and I would like to thank you for this once again.
I would like to address those colleagues and friends who are already implementing part of our projects and intend to do so in the future: I would like to ask you to always pay attention to safety issues. We must think of ourselves and of those next to us, all the more so when we are talking about involving young people and especially children.
We have listened closely to everything about the opportunity to study an island in the Far East. I urge you to be as careful as you can, as there may be explosives and various chemical agents and biological materials. You have to be very careful and take a professional approach to solving the tasks you are setting for yourselves.
Overall, the Russian Geographical Society is developing ‒ quite successfully and rapidly at that ‒ and showing very good results.
Thank you all very much, and enjoy the upcoming holidays!