Arctic Frontiers Conference, Norway: Day 4- the importance of the Arctic Council

By Marc Montgomery, Radio Canada International

As our reporter Eilis Quinn found out at the Arctic Frontiers Conference, much of what the circumpolar Arctic Council does affects many of the issues under discussion at the conference in Tromso Norway.

The Arctic Council is now celebrating its 20th year.

This milestone was noted at the Arctic Frontiers conference being covered our reporter.

While shipping issues were at the forefront in today’s discussions, Eilis discovered that many of the international accords developed by the Arctic Council  were mentioned during presentations on a variety of issues from the environment, such as ship spills, to search and rescue.

Fairbanks to host Arctic Council ministerial meeting in 2017

By Weston Morrow,

FAIRBANKS—Fairbanks will host the next ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council in 2017, the United States special representative to the Arctic announced on Monday.

Adm. Robert Papp revealed the location choice at the Arctic Frontiers 2016 meeting in Tromsø, Norway. It is scheduled to take place May 2017.

The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum through which nations with Arctic assets meet and coordinate on Arctic policy. The council includes the U.S., Canada, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Denmark. The council also includes six “permanent participants”: the Aleut International Association, the Arctic Athabaskan Council, the Gwich’in Council International, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, and the Saami Council.

US strategy for Arctic includes Alaska’s Aleutians and Bering Sea

By Yereth Rosen, Arctic Newswire

The rain-drenched Aleutian Islands, which curve from Alaska’s mainland to Asia, lie about 800 to 1,000 miles south of the Arctic Circle. So why do the U.S. government’s Arctic plans include enhanced shipping safety in the Aleutians and the similarly subarctic Bering Sea?

There is a legal explanation. The 1,200-mile Aleutian chain, the Bering and other subarctic areas are considered part of the Arctic for the purposes of federal policy.

Scientific Cooperation Task Force (SCTF) meets in Reykjavik

The Arctic Council’s Task Force for Enhancing Scientific Cooperation in the Arctic (SCTF) met on 1-2 December 2015 in Reykjavik, Iceland. During the meeting the group continued to work on drafting the legally-binding agreement on scientific cooperation in the Arctic.

At their last meeting in Copenhagen in August 2015, the Task Force focused on drafting the text of the agreement, including discussions of terms to be used, access to scientific data, infrastructure, and simplification of movement of scientists and their equipment. The Task Force built upon that momentum in Reykjavik with more in-depth consideration of terms and definitions, description of the geographic scope of the agreement, and provisions for review and meetings of the parties.

OPINION: Refocusing U.S. Arctic policy in 2016

By Daniel Kochis, Washington Times

The U.S. currently chairs the Arctic Council, the primary intergovernmental forum for addressing issues concerning the Arctic region, yet 68 percent of Americans have never even heard of it.

The Obama administration tends to view the region as a political prop: a picturesque setting from which to pontificate on the dangers of climate change. But the Arctic region is an area of important national interest.

The U.S. can’t afford to squander another year. It should move, now, to put in place policies that actively advance and secure American interests in the region.

UMass Amherst Arctic Researcher Co-hosts ‘Arctic Matters Day’ in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 14

Contact: Janet Lathrop

AMHERST, Mass. – Julie Brigham-Grette, professor of geosciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and chair of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Polar Research Board (PRB), will serve as co-master of ceremonies for a free public program, “Arctic Matters Day,” at NAS headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Jan. 14.

She will also give the inaugural public talk, available as a live online webinar, in an Arctic research seminar series hosted by the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States at that organization’s Washington office at noon on Friday, Jan. 15.

OPINION: Italy’s Arctic diplomacy

January 6, 2016 – 7:55am – By Marc Lanteigne

In 2013, much news coverage regarding the latest assembly of states admitted to the Arctic Council as observers was dominated by the inclusion, for the first time, of Asian governments, especially China but also those of India, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

Lost in much of the debate about the expansion of the observer group, however, was the admission of the sixth country, namely Italy. Over the past two years Rome has quietly sought to bolster its Arctic policies and identity in relation to other non-Arctic states by means of a widening and deepening of its circumpolar interests.

Experts say environment, community balance needed to protect Nunavut coast

By Sima Sahar Zerehi, CBC News

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has promised to designate 10 per cent of Canada’s oceans as marine protected areas, but in Nunavut, which sits on the Arctic Ocean, that means balancing environmental concerns with the needs of Inuit communities.

Currently, only 1.3 per cent of Canada’s oceans are protected, but the Liberal government has promised that by next year, that number will grow to 5 per cent, and by 2020 it will be at 10 per cent.

Arctic Policies: Statements of Intent

Italy and Poland are not new to the Arctic. A clear understanding of what they hope to get out of being there is

Italy was admitted as an Arctic Council observer in 2013, but, according to a new Arctic section on its foreign ministry’s website, the country has a century-long history in the region. As of last week, it also has a strategy for what it is doing there.

The document, officially titled ‘Towards an Italian Strategy for the Arctic’, has two goals, according to Gabriele Altana, the country’s representative on the Arctic Council: co-ordinating policy and informing the public about the country’s Arctic goals.

Retreating from the US Arctic

By Jerry Lee, Offshore Engineer

The US is losing its opportunity to lay claim to Arctic exploration, falling behind countries such as Norway and Russia. Now with Shell and Statoil exiting Alaska’s offshore, many in the industry and in politics are wondering how to salvage Alaskan offshore exploration, but will the US be ready? Jerry Lee reports.

The Arctic, though its environmental conditions are harsh, still remains a much sought after spot for oil and gas exploration. And this is because much of the remaining undiscovered hydrocarbons lie in the Arctic: 13% oil, 30% natural gas, and 20% natural gas liquids, according to a 2009 USGA CARA report.