23 January 2013Arctic Council Ministers played a prominent role at this year's policy section of the Arctic Frontiers conference held in Tromsø, Norway. Hot topics included climate change and resource extraction in the Arctic. Later in the day the Standing Arctic Council Secretariat was formally opened with a ceremony held at the Fram Centre, a center for Norwegian polar research.During his keynote presentation Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide spoke about the increasing importance of the Arctic Council as global interest in the region increases. He also welcomed the Standing Arctic Council Secretariat to Tromsø and spoke about the important role the Secretariat will play in strengthening the activities of the Council. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt talked about the need to solve remaining geopolitical uncertainties in the Arctic. Bildt was also concerned about the strong impact that coal-fired power plants have on climate change. Leona Aglukkaq spoke about Canada's upcoming chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Aglukkaq emphasized that Canada's priorities will be shaped by her travel in the Arctic and dialogues with Arctic inhabitants. The main overarching theme will be development for and with the people of the north. In the evening following the conference the three Arctic Ministers gathered at the Fram Centre in downtown Tromsø to formally welcome and open the Standing Arctic Council Secretariat. Interest was high and many invited guests and journalists gathered to observe the signing of the Host Country Agreement between Norway and the new Director of the secretariat. By signing the agreement Norway formally agrees to host the secretariat. Following the signing there was also a press conference. Questions focused on observer applications and the Arctic States' responsibilities regarding climate change. Photos from the Arctic Frontiers policy section and the Host Country Agreement signing ceremony can be found on the Arctic Council Flickr page. Photo: Arctic Council. Photo caption: Carl Bildt, Espen Barth Eide, Leona Aglukkaq, and Magnús Jóhannesson at the press conference following the signing of the Host Country Agreement.