Are The Voices Of Arctic Citizens Heard And Empowered?
Keywords:Arctic, sustainable development, participatory governance, online platform
The long-term prosperity of Arctic regions sufficiently depends on the involvement of Arctic communities and citizens in the sustainable development of their territories of residence. This task needs convenient and effective instruments providing social control and participation in decision-making processes. Considering the remoteness of Arctic territories, internet services of public involvement are crucially important for providing effective public involvement. In 2013, the Russian government launched the Russian Social Initiative internet platform (RSI) for citizens to create and promote initiatives on different levels: local, regional, and federal. However, the effectiveness of social activity at RSI is ambiguous. In this study, we made a descriptive analysis of Arctic citizens’ social activity at RSI to understand the current level of their involvement and opportunities for the further development of participatory governance with the help of a national online platform. According to the research results, online instruments for participatory governing are necessary and convenient for arctic citizens as they produced a sufficient number of constructive social, economic, and environmental initiatives at RSI. Anyway, consideration of peoples’ interests in the regional and municipal policies stays miserable as only one RSI initiative was implemented in the Russian Arctic. Thus, the problem of participatory decision-making is beyond just the need to increase social activeness and the use of online instruments. It needs further system analysis for identifying specific barriers for effective participatory public governance and ways of optimization decision-making processes supported by online technologies.