Rúni M. Hansen
It has been an interesting few years for our industry and interests in the Arctic. Many deals have been done, new areas have been opened and discoveries have been made. The whole industry is positioning itself for the future. We are dealing with complex regulatory and stakeholder concerns. We are driving technology to enable us to develop Arctic resources, safely and economically. At the same time we see that development is going slower many would have thought only a short time ago. And this might be a good thing.
The world's eyes are on the Arctic region - a region that signifies large opportunities and resources, but is also a unique and harsh operating environment.
The Arctic Council was established in 1996 as a high level intergovernmental forum to promote cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic states with the involvement of Arctic indigenous peoples and other Arctic inhabitants. The Arctic Council Chairmanship rotates every two years amongst the eight Arctic States. The work of the Arctic Council is conducted between the Ministerial Meetings by the Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) in consultation with Permanent Participants, which represent the indigenous peoples of the Arctic.
In order to strengthen the capacity of the Arctic Council to respond to the challenges and opportunities facing the Arctic, it was decided at the 2011 Ministerial meeting in Nuuk to establish a standing Arctic Council Secretariat. The Secretariat enhances the work of the Arctic Council through the establishment of administrative capacity and by providing continuity, institutional memory and operational efficiency.
Steven R. Myers
It is significant that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has chosen the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq as Chair of the Arctic Council for Canada's two year term which began this May. The Harper government has a clear focus on the importance of the Arctic, and the U.S. should work closely with the Canadian Chair to support Canada's initiatives, and be ready to assume the Chair in 2015 with a cohesive approach to leadership in the Arctic Council.
Over the past four years, the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) has been engaging public and private sector stakeholders from Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories on a number of sustainable economic development issues through the PNWER Arctic Caucus. To ensure local people are included in the discussion about the Arctic, the Caucus established a coordinated approach of shared solutions to address common challenges. The Caucus has been a valuable tool for PNWER to bring sub-national concerns to national Arctic decision makers, especially in the U.S. PNWER also works to ensure the voice of the Arctic is heard across the rest of the region that includes the U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, as well as Alaska, and the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The goal has been to develop action items for the region that will lead to specific solutions for common challenges.
1. To understand properly the context of the Russian document one needs to clarify the specificness of the Russian Arctic. Russian polar territories are really vast even in comparison with the other Arctic federations like US and Canada. Two third of the circumpolar wealth are created in the Russian Arctic (AHDR-1). Because of this fact the whole document is concerned with the internal problems of the Russian Arctic and much less with international affairs. This is characteristic for the strategies of all Arctic federations. The Russian difference is that this internally oriented document is preoccupied with how to answer the challenges which face the country and its Arctic zone because of the deep restructuring of its industrial economy.
The Russian Arctic has the thickest 'layer' of industrial activity; and the scale of industrial activity here is much more than that of the other polar states. Here we have the most urbanized Arctic community in the world, the maximum amount of monoprofile cities and settlements, and the most powerful resource sector of the Arctic economy in the world. Not surprisingly then, the imperative of innovative modernization is set throughout the whole text of the strategy. Large-scale industrial activity began in the Russian Arctic decades before the other polar countries and therefore one can distinguish old and young polar industrial territories.
Government of Québec
Anticipated changes in the Arctic environment due to climate change and global warming will affect all circumpolar regions. The impact of these changes, which could directly or indirectly affect the equilibrium of the entire planet, raise issues that are at the center of a global debate requiring the collaboration and cooperation of all actors, including subnational states. Québec, which partly lies in the Arctic and is very active on the international scene, wants to be part of this discussion. As such, it seeks to participate in international Arctic forums and strengthen its relations with other federated states and circumpolar regions that share Arctic challenges in its particular areas of jurisdiction. These are related to sustainable northern development, environmental protection and the development of northern communities.
In May 2013, after much discussion and speculation, six states were welcomed to become new Observers at the Arctic Council at the Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna. The six states include China, Japan, India, Italy, Singapore and South Korea. This commentary will focus on two of the most prominent new Asian Observer states: China and Japan.
China's interests in the Arctic have continued to attract much attention in 2013. The Chinese government announced that it will boost Arctic research, having acknowledged the role of scientific research for evaluating risks and opportunities in the Arctic. A few weeks after the AC Ministerial Meeting, the Polar Research Institute of China announced plans to establish a China-Nordic Arctic Research Center in Shanghai. The cooperation is based on the existing Icelandic-China cooperation on the Arctic, and will include several Nordic institutes such as the Iceland Center for Research, the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Copenhagen-based Nordic Institute of Asian Studies.