26 March 2015At the fifth meeting of the SCTF in Oslo, Norway, the ACS interviewed delegates from Finland, Russia and the United States… The Arctic Council’s Task Force for Enhancing Scientific Cooperation in the Arctic (SCTF) held its fifth meeting in Oslo on February 25-26, 2015. Forty eight delegates attended the meeting, including representatives from all eight Arctic Council States, two Permanent Participants organizations, and working group AMAP. Observers in attendance included Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom, the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (SCPAR) and the University of the Arctic (UArctic). The European Union also attended. The fifth meeting was chaired by Evan Bloom of the United States and Vladimir Barbin, Senior Arctic Official of the Russian Federation. At the meeting, the Arctic Council Secretariat spoke with the heads of delegation for Finland, Russia and the United States. They shared some thoughts on the value of the work of the SCTF and the contribution that each state can make to the work of the Task Force. Annu Jylhä-Pyykönen, Finland’s Head of Delegation to the SCTF Q: Why is taking part in the SCTF of value to Finland? A: Arctic issues matter for Finns. We are a truly Arctic country, and we invest in Arctic research which is of great importance not only to Finland but to the whole region. We also feel strongly about matters related to Arctic scientific cooperation, namely: environmental protection; sustainable development; sustainable use of natural resources and societal changes. Science knows no boundaries, and the issues that the Arctic region faces require high quality, trans-disciplinary and problem-based research, something which cannot be accomplished solely at the national level. We need to work together. Q: What in particular can Finland bring to the SCTF, in terms of experience, expertise or resources? A: When looking at the draft agreement which we have been discussing at this Task Force, Finland definitely has something to bring to the table. Interdisciplinary research and scientific knowledge are vital both for the Arctic and for the world, because decisions and actions taken - be it on climate change, use of natural resources or society - require knowledge acquired by research. Finland is investing in Arctic research and we are willing to further deepen international cooperation in this field by sharing experience, expertise, research results, data and infrastructure with other actors. The ultimate goal is to achieve even better and higher-quality research about the Arctic region. Q: What’s your favorite thing about taking part in the SCTF? A: In my view, improving broad-based international scientific cooperation between actors both within and beyond the Arctic region is of vital importance, and that is what this group is all about. I also enjoy meeting and getting to know new colleagues from different Arctic states and organizations - people who share my strong interest in the Arctic. Yuri Tsaturov, Russia’s Head of Delegation to the SCTF Q: Why is taking part in the SCTF of value to Russia? A: Taking part in the SCTF is important for Russia because scientific cooperation in the Arctic is more efficient when it is conducted jointly by researchers from all the Arctic States. To ensure this, it is essential to provide all the necessary conditions. Each Arctic State can contribute within its responsibility, expertise and financial capacity. Q: What in particular does Russia offer to the SCTF, in terms of experience, expertise or resources? A: We could offer to consider the possibility of using the achievements attained during and after the International Polar Year. It is a well-known fact that the IPY inspired a lot of sea and land expeditions. There were arranged conferences analyzing the results of this work, and many research papers based on this work were published by Russian scientists. And, of course, joint efforts always produce a better result, including in terms of saving financial resources. Q: What’s your favorite thing about taking part in the SCTF? A: My favourite thing about taking part in the SCTF is that all the states make their best effort to get positive results and to develop a robust document. To my mind, we have already achieved a lot working together at the meetings we have had. We think that, if the outcome of our work ends up as a legally binding document, it will enable the ministries and agencies in our countries responsible for carrying out such research to use their existing capacities in a more efficient way. We also think that a legally binding document could provide an opportunity to improve coordination and the process of getting different clearances within a country in order to carry out joint activities. Kelly Falkner, United States Head of Delegation to the SCTF Q: Why is taking part in the SCTF of value to the United States? A: The US views international cooperation in science to be essential to address the rapidity and magnitude of change that spans the Arctic and its impacts for the Arctic region, its people and the larger globe. The SCTF offers an excellent opportunity to help strengthen and streamline much-needed joint science efforts. Q: What in particular does the United States offer to the SCTF, in terms of experience, expertise or resources? A: The US is pleased to offer a wide range of scientific and management expertise and resources to Arctic science and policy issues. Q: What’s your favorite thing about taking part in the SCTF? A: It is a privilege to experience the dedication and care that all participants have for Arctic issues, and to be able to participate in discussions ranging across all scientific and policy disciplines. Photo: Thomas Keilman. Group photo from SCTF Oslo meeting 26 February, 2015.