The “Arctic Youth” about the movement keeping the Arctic clean…

By Darya Slyunyaeva and Roman Movchan – the “Arctic Youth”

Translation: Upasak Bose – the “Arctic Youth”

Some regions of the Arctic require cleansing because when exploring this region, the pioneers did not think about the environmental friendliness of their actions and methods. This is not a reproach against them but a statement of fact. First of all, they tried to survive there, develop new territories and contribute to their development. Today, it is extremely important that modern people are conscious of the nature of surroundings in the Arctic and contribute to cleaning the region from the garbage accumulated over the years of development.

Thus, in Russia, there is an entire movement whose task is to organize not just usual clean-up days but entire team competitions in cleaning up territories. It all started with a private initiative. Clean Games came into existence in 2014 when Dmitry Ioffe and his friends went on a hike along Lake Vuoksa. The holiday was almost ruined by piles of garbage on one of the islands, and then the team came up with a gaming competition to collect waste.

This game format began to attract activists from different parts of the country. The project became an “Ecological Franchise”, and a community of organizers began to develop in the regions. Already in 2018, the project became international when a participant of the project living in India played the game for her students. After that, Clean Games was held in 15 countries on two continents. In 2019, Clean Games was presented at the II Paris Peace Forum and was awarded the “Leader of Climate Development” and “Best Social Entrepreneurship Project in the Field of Ecology” awards.

Clean Games, Summer 2021 (c) Clean Games

Clean Games did not bypass the Arctic either. The Arctic Cleanliness Cup has been held here since 2021. Currently, the project unites 9 regions of the Russian Arctic, where 6,276 people collected 190 tons of waste over three tournaments. At the same time, 110 games were played! The most active regions can be identified. In the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the regional Yamal Cup of Cleanliness has been held for 3 years in a row. In the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the organizers attracted subsidies and held 5 games instead of 1. In the Republic of Komi, they received subsidies for conducting a training internship on Clean Games and holding Clean Games after the Arctic Cup of Cleanliness.

Indigenous peoples of the North also take part in Clean Games. Among them are the Nenets, the Chukchi, the Eskimos, the Karelians, and the Dolgans. The project is supported by a large number of sponsors. Such large-scale support contributed to the Arctic Cleanup Cup becoming a traditional volunteer event in the Russian Arctic.

An art challenge was also held as part of the tournament. Its essence is to create artistic illustrations that address the problems of ecology, nature and culture of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation, as well as to popularize respect for nature and the environment.

It is important to note that the idea of Clean Games is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals No. 11, 13, 14, 15, 17. Let us recall that they cover sustainable cities and human settlements, combating climate change, preserving marine ecosystems, preserving terrestrial ecosystems, as well as partnerships for sustainable development.

Clean Games, Summer 2021 (c) Clean Games

In order to find out about further plans for Clean Games in the circumpolar region, “Arctic Youth” spoke with the head of the environmental movement, Dmitry Ioffe. We managed to find out that in the future, Clean Games in the Arctic will not be limited to Russia. Social activists would like to resume environmental actions in other Arctic countries, as well as in Norway (Spitsbergen archipelago, which has a special legal status), where Russian or rather Soviet presence is still strongly felt in villages such as Barentsburg and Pyramid.

Clean Games is also ready to hold events for representatives of the indigenous peoples of the north whose languages, traditions and knowledge the Arctic Council and the UN are actively working to preserve. Such events are easily broadcast in the media and can show the whole world that the indigenous peoples of the Arctic want to preserve their nature and cultural values.

In March, the members of the project «Arctic Youth» plan to visit the World Youth Festival in Sochi, where they intend to take part in the Clean Games. More than 150 players from 9 CIS and 2 African countries will take part in the event at the festival: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Gambia and Zambia.

Clean Games, Summer 2021 (c) Clean Games

In recent years, Clean Games has become a truly international project. They have organized events at least once in 39 countries around the world. Among the Arctic countries, Clean Games were held in Denmark, Norway, the United States, Sweden and Finland.

If you are interested in Clean Games and in the Arctic, or you would like to become a regional organizer of Clean Games – you are welcome to write to the “Arctic Youth” mail –

Let’s keep the Arctic clean together!

About the Author: Arctic Youth

Arctic Youth (est. 2023) is an international community of young people interested in the Arctic and its development. Our goal is to create a community of young people who care about the Arctic and its future. What we are doing: popularizing the Arctic and raising awareness about what is happening in the region (projects: The Faces of the Arctic - young people living in the North talk about themselves and their homeland; interviews with experts in Arctic studies); creating a community of young Arctic experts (round tables and panel discussions where students and early career researchers can present the results of their research); presenting opportunities for personal and professional growth in the North and the field of Arctic studies (publication of job positions, events, scholarships and other funding opportunities); promoting international youth cooperation with priority given to the Arctic countries.

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