I these days, Arctic Futures Symposium: “Resilient Arctic Communities” is held. And by now, one can already draw some guiding lines on which priorities the arctic representatives, officials and ambassadors will focus on in the future development of the Arctic.
Sustainability, climate change, indigenous peoples, and the balance between development and preservation of the Arctic – these subjects take a lot of space at Arctic Futures Symposiums first two panels, which focus on arctic challenges and arctic policies. One element seems to be common for all these subjects: international cooperation.
Even with the best and most ambitious strategy, the EU cannot reach the goals on its own. It is important that the rest of the international community is on board as well. This a point made by EU commissioner for environment, oceans and fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius. The EU has recently had an open consultation on its arctic strategy from 2016, and they are currently in the process of reviewing the inputs that they have received. It is expected that a new strategy will be presented in the last quarter of 2021.
The EU commissioner is far from the only one to put focus international cooperation as a main pillar of developing a sustainable Arctic, and as the tool to adress the challenges facing the region and its future. Margretha Jacobsen, the Faroe Islands’ respresentative in the Arctic Council, tells that the Kingdom of Denmarks new strategy for the Arctic will have six overall points, where most of them relates to international cooperation.
When the arctic ambassadors and representatives talk about international cooperation, and how significant of a role it plays, it is also mentioned that we should make use of the governance structures that already exists. Despite geopolitics playing a significantly larger role these days, one must not let the resources that has gone into developing multilateral frameworks go to waste, says the minister of foreign affairs of Norway, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide on the panel on arctic challenges.
There are various forums and projects which is an expression of the cooperation across borders. However, to the arctic representatives and ambassadors, the Arctic Council is the most important piece of the puzzle in how they see the potential for strengthened cooperation. In 2021, Iceland will hand over the chairmanship to Russia, and many of the representatives has already welcomed the chairmanship of Russia.
Another area in which more international cooperation is requested, is on education. It is a challenge to attract and retain qualified labour in the Arctic. Mira Kleist, special advisor in Greenlands department of foreign affairs and energy, highlights that in Greenland they are discussing the need for support from international partners in terms of education. Something that is key to the development of the university of Greenland.
Arctic Consensus is part of Arctic Futures Symposium’s steering committe and contributes to the planning and holding of this years symposium. You can read more about Arctic Futures Symposium, the programme, and how to register by clicking here