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Edited by: E. G. Popkova, J. V. Ragulina, A. V. Bogoviz.
Vol. 169. Switzerland: Springer Publishing Company, 2019.
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The key organizers of the conference were the International Geographic Union, the Russian Geographic Society, celebrating its 170th anniversary, Lomonosov Moscow State University, and the Russian Academy of Sciences. Conference participants were welcomed by Viktor Sadovnichy, MSU Rector, Sergey Donskoy, Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology, Vladimir Kotlyakov, Honorary President of the Russian Geographic Society, Vladimir Kolosov, President of the International Geographic Union, Nikolay Kasimov, President of the MSU Geogrpahic Faculty, and Gordon McBean, Nobel Prize winner and President of the International Council for Science. Astronauts from the International Space Station greeted the IGU 2015 participants via a video link.
The conference attracted over 1,500 participants from more than 50 countries, and 60% of them were international researchers . The programme included over 100 topical sessions and seminars, roundtable discussions, and a poster exhibition with research results, as well as lectures by renowned Russian and international scholars. There was a special focus at the event on the issues of climate change, Arctic studies and development, global conflicts’ resolution, and the socio-economic development of countries, regions, and cities.
Ekaterina Mikhailova, doctoral student at the Department of Spatial Development and Regional Studies, participated in the ‘Geography of Governance’ session. She was particularly impressed by the ideas expressed at the sessions on free economic zones, understanding the borders in Eurasia, and urban management. In addition to those, she was also interested in the papers analyzing faster urban environment growth as compared to evolving urban life styles among the population of Asian and African countries; evaluating the importance of local border movement for more active border cooperation; detecting the reasons and consequences of global growth of free economic zones and detecting the potential for their use in order to better manage the development of border territories.
For example, Austrian scholar Ferenc Gyuris demonstrated the limits of application of the Chinese type of free economic zones for other regions of the world due to China’s unique ability to improve its territories’ socio-economic conditions while free economic zone investors get their profit. Finnish scholar Jussi Laine suggested that balanced skeptical attitudes towards Russia prevail in Finland’s border areas, since their inhabitants judgeRussians on the basis of their own experience of interaction with them and are less inclined to idealize or demonize their Southern neighbour.
Ekaterina Mikhailova, in her turn, presented a paper ‘Enhancing Local Problem Solving: Governance Structures and Networking in Russian “Twin Cities”’, in which she evaluated the level of the socio-cultural environment’s influence over the process of adjustment of governance bodies and the use of network interaction by pairs of neighbouring cities along the Russian border.
The study was based on comparing cases from Russian-Norwegian, Russian-Finnish, and Russian-Chinese borders. As a comparative analysis showed, the adjustment of governance bodies responsible for border cooperation takes place independently of the level of socio-economic development and economic specialization of border municipalities, and independently of the cultural values and political attitudes among the population. Unlike the process of governing bodies’ adjustment, network cooperation showed a high level of variability depending on the socio-cultural environment of border municipalities. On European borders, formal network cooperation prevailed between governing bodies on the local and regional levels on one side of the border, and on the Russian-Chinese border, informal network cooperation was most effective between local bodies and business entities on both sides of the border.