PAME II 2019 Meeting Report

The Arctic Council’s Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (“PAME”) 2nd biannual meeting of 2019 (PAME II-2019) was held at the University of Iceland, and the island of Viðey, from 9-12 September. Monday 9 September was dedicated to pre-meetings of PAME’s five thematic expert groups (shipping, marine protected areas, ecosystem approach, marine litter, and resource exploration and development). There follows PAME’s report on “Arctic Offshore Resource Exploration and Development,” one of the topics discussed at the meeting:

“First Senior Arctic Officials’ plenary meeting during Iceland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council places emphasis on people and communities”

The Arctic Council posted above–titled press release, which reads in part as follows:

“On 20-21 November 2019, the Arctic Council will gather in Hveragerði, Iceland, for the first Senior Arctic Officials’ plenary meeting during the Chairmanship of Iceland (2019-2021). The meeting will focus on work related to People and Communities of the Arctic. Iceland puts an emphasis on cooperation between all entities of the Council – reflecting the Chairmanship’s overarching theme: Together towards a sustainable Arctic.”

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Civil society and media freedom on agenda as Norway takes over chair of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council

By Thomas Nilsen

Norway will be chairing the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in 2019-2021. Sweden’s new foreign minister, Ann Linde, handed over the responsibility to her Norwegian colleague at the council’s bi-annual meeting in Umeå on Thursday.

To the Barents Observer, Ine Eriksen Søreide says NGOs, media and indigenous peoples can expect strengthened support.

“Norway is very focused on the conditions for civil society in the Barents Region. Supporting and strengthening civil society will be important during the chairmanship period,” the foreign minister assures.

Eriksen Søreide looks with concern to what happens with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the Russian side of the border in the Barents region.

PAME Website on Arctic Shipping Activity

Editor’s note: “The Arctic Council’s Working Group on the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) launched a comprehensive Arctic shipping activity database on February 7, 2019.”  PAME published the following press release about its site:

“The launch is a significant milestone in PAME’s work to improve knowledge of historical Arctic ship traffic activity and various factors that affect such activity, such as sea ice extent, meteorological and oceanographic conditions, and international regulations. The database will allow authorized users to analyze vessel traffic patterns, fuel use, and air emissions, among other economic and environmental conditions.

Arctic Council’s PAME Meets on Marine Sound Project

The Protection of the Marine Environment(“PAME”) describes itself here as:

“one of six Arctic Council working groups….PAME is the focal point of the Arctic Council’s activities related to the protection and sustainable use of the Arctic marine environment and provides a unique forum for collaboration on a wide range of activities in this regard.”

The PAME Working Group Meeting (PAME II-2019) was held from 10-12 September 2019 in Iceland. The meeting agenda included a discussion of PAME’s continuing review of marine sound, which includes “Developing Acoustic Intensity Maps for Shipping in the Circumpolar Arctic.”  The draft Statement of Work for this project states:

US stance on Arctic is ‘dangerous’, says Sweden’s foreign minister

The Financial Times published an article titled, “US stance on Arctic is ‘dangerous’, says Sweden’s foreign minister”. The article reads in part as follows:

Sweden’s foreign minister has lashed out at the US’s “sad and dangerous” approach to the Arctic, warning of a risk to decades of co-operation with the likes of Russia and China in the far north.

Margot Wallstrom told the Financial Times that US president Donald Trump’s offer to buy the Arctic island of Greenland from Denmark “sounded like a joke” and “was a shock”.

Will China Freeze America Out of the Arctic?

The National Interest published an article titled, “Will China Freeze America Out of the Arctic?”. The article reads in part as follows:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo openly challenged China’s and Russian’s Arctic intentions at the May 2019 Arctic Council Meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland. This marked a dramatic rhetorical shift in the usual diplomatic line that the United States regarded the Arctic as a venue for cooperation and research and that climate change is the clear and present danger to Arctic security. Climate change unquestionably is altering the Arctic landscape and will have long term effects. However, Pompeo’s statement was a significant expansion of the warning by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the United States is “late to the game” in the Arctic and needs to start making policy, security, and economic investments in the Arctic or be left on the sidelines. Even though Pompeo did not suggest that the Arctic Council should take any particular action(s), it was clear that the Trump administration was not satisfied with what was happening in the far North.

NATO is carefully monitoring the ‘security implications’ of China’s increased presence in the Arctic

CNBC published an article titled, “NATO is carefully monitoring the ‘security implications’ of China’s increased presence in the Arctic”. The article reads in part as follows:

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNBC Wednesday that the defense alliance is carefully monitoring China’s increased presence in the Arctic, amid growing divisions in the polar region.

His comments come at a time when countries are scrambling to claim territory or boost their presence in the high north, as thawing ice raises the possibility of exploiting much of the world’s remaining undiscovered reserves of oil and gas and mineral deposits.

Concerns Rise Over Governance Gap in Arctic

The New Security Beat published an article titled, “Concerns Rise Over Governance Gap in Arctic”. The article reads in part as follows:

“We’re attempting to do something that’s never been done before in world history,” said Senator Angus King (I-ME). “The peaceful development of a major new physical asset.” He spoke of the Arctic Ocean at the 8th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations. The symposium was hosted by the Wilson Center’s Polar Institute, in partnership with the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, U.S. National Ice Center, Arctic Domain Awareness Center, Patuxent Partnership, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

The Expanding Role of Arctic Council Observer States: Implementing Japanese Arctic Policy in this New Context

The Arctic Institute published an article titled, “The Expanding Role of Arctic Council Observer States: Implementing Japanese Arctic Policy in this New Context”. The article reads in part as follows:

Attending this year’s Polar Law Symposium in Hobart, Australia?

If so, join Romain Chuffart at the twelfth Polar Law Symposium on December 3, 2019 and listen to his presentation on The Expanding Role of Arctic Council Observer States: Implementing Japanese Arctic Policy in this New Context.

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