The Arctic serves as a good example of how states can cooperate pragmatically, despite great challenges and rapid change. The Arctic Council is the 'hub' of this cooperation. Since it was founded in 1996, it has managed to present many ground-breaking reports, such as the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, and has embraced more solid decision-making as witnessed by the adoption of the Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement in 2011.
One of the main reasons behind the success of the Arctic Council is its science-policy interface. Important reports on priority issues by the working groups create a foundation for efficient negotiations among the Senior Arctic Officials and decisions by the foreign ministers. Knowledge and science relating to the Arctic are thus central to the success of Arctic diplomacy. The Arctic Yearbook is a very important part of the scientific discourse on Arctic issues.
Sweden is more than half-way through its Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, and the gavel will be handed over to Canada in conjunction with the Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna in May 2013. The remaining period of the Chairmanship will doubtlessly prove to be a challenge. The time has now come to negotiate the final deliverables on all the important priorities of our Chairmanship.
Protecting the environment from oil emissions, resilience of Arctic nature and communities, and the human dimension of the Arctic are among the top priorities for the Swedish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. We continuously strive for progress and improvements in these specific areas.
The issue of Arctic oil spill prevention and response is leading to concrete results. We anticipate a number of best practice recommendations for the prevention of oil spills and hope that the foreign ministers will be able to sign a cooperation agreement between the states to enable the effective control of any spills. The Arctic Resilience Report presents a better understanding of Arctic change. It identifies potential shocks and large shifts in ecosystem services and analyses how these could affect societies. Lastly, we have emphasised the importance of strengthening the human dimension in the Arctic by, for example, arranging seminars on the issues of food and water security and corporate social responsibility, which we hope will lead to valuable recommendations.
Bearing in mind the importance the Arctic Council attaches to research, I am very happy to have been invited to be a part of this publication. I would particularly like to thank all of the authors for their remarkable work, which I very much look forward to reading.
Arctic Council SAO Chair