Youth shaping the Arctic 10 May 2021Arctic PeoplesPathways Arctic Indigenous youth leadership through Permanent Participants’ Youth Network “We are not just the future but also the present,” stated around 30 Arctic Indigenous youth who had gathered in Rovaniemi, Finland in November 2019 for the first Arctic Youth Leaders’ Summit (AYLS) which took place alongside the sixth Arctic Leaders’ Summit. AYLS is a dedicated summit for Indigenous youth to promote youth engagement in the Arctic Leaders’ Summit. The Youth Summit offers an opportunity for rising Indigenous leaders from across the Arctic to learn about each other’s homelands, discuss issues of joint concern and build their networks and skills in international cooperation. The Summit served as a platform to start Arctic Indigenous youth cooperation and later the Permanent Participants’ (PP) Youth Network. At the Summit, the Arctic Indigenous youth called for more active involvement in the issues that affect them and reminded everyone about their present leadership role while presenting their first AYLS declaration. In November 2020, the PP Youth arranged an online anniversary of the first Arctic Youth Leaders’ Summit (AYLS) that attracted 70 participants around the Arctic. Permanent Participants’ Youth Network Following the discussions of the Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting in Hveragerði in 2019 and in the aftermath of the AYLS, the PPs took action by starting their youth initiative in 2020 - The PP Youth Network. The Network gathers youth representatives from each of the six PP organizations, who meet monthly to discuss topics related to the Arctic Council. Some of the PPs have practiced youth engagement in the work of the Arctic Council already before 2020 by having youth representatives in their official delegations to the Arctic Council meetings. Some PPs have youth councils, youth initiatives and youth training and capacity building programs, such as the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) Youth Council, the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Emerging Leaders program and the Saami Council’s internships and capacity-building courses, the last one taking place in 2015-2018 co-organized together with ICC Greenland. Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (APIA), as part of the Aleut International Association (AIA), arranged a Young Leaders Summit and a virtual training for young Unangax leaders in January 2021. Gwich’in Council International (GCI) is developing a Youth Ambassadors Program to start in summer-fall of 2021. Youth stepping into the leadership role The PP youth were represented at the opening session of the Arctic Resilience Forum (ARF) 2020 devoted to the Arctic Indigenous Youth Leadership. The session explored the challenges that Indigenous youth face, and what crises are affecting them. The ARF 2020 was launched by consulting Indigenous youth about their aspirations and needs to become resilient Arctic leaders. PP youth from AIA and RAIPON also gave their statements during the Arctic Frontiers 2021 high-level panel devoted to the Arctic Council’s 25th anniversary. The youth statements underscored the decrease of Indigenous languages and the need for youth involvement in discussions of strategic matters and issues of Arctic Indigenous peoples. In addition, in January 2021, many PP youth representatives attended the James J. McCarthy Leadership Seminar for Arctic Indigenous Youth Leaders organized by Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the Association of World Reindeer Herders (AWRH) and the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR). In the future, the youth wish to see more opportunities for them to be involved at every level of the work of the Arctic Council. They also hope to see more Indigenous leadership in the Arctic to tackle some of the biggest issues and concerns: “I hope to see more leadership and input from Indigenous peoples in the Arctic. We are seeing our world change faster than anyone else, and it’s going to take our perspectives to create the positive changes that need to occur,” said Darling Anderson, AIA youth representative.