At the second meeting of the Arctic Council’s Task Force for Enhancing Scientific Cooperation in the Arctic, Mr. Evan Bloom, co-chair of the Task Force shared some thoughts on why scientific cooperation is important and why now is a good time to work towards an arrangement on improved scientific research cooperation among the eight Arctic States.
In your opinion, what is the most pressing issue to be addressed by this Task Force at the moment?
The Ministers have given us a very broad mandate to look at issues related to scientific cooperation in the Arctic. We have had two successful Task Force meetings and we are now moving into negotiation of a Memorandum of Understanding or other instrument that would promote scientific cooperation among the Arctic States and also perhaps benefit other states. In our meetings we have discussed a wide range of barriers to scientific cooperation and I think that many delegations feel that there is a way forward to promote cooperation.
Why do you think now is a good time to have this kind of Task Force?
The issues discussed at the Task Force meetings have not been fully addressed in the context of the Arctic Council prior to the establishment of this Task Force. That is why Ministers decided in Kiruna that now is a good time to focus on scientific cooperation. I think all the Arctic States and Permanent Participants realize that science is one of the highest priorities of the Arctic Council. The work carried out by the Task Force follows from other work that is going on in the Arctic Council working groups as well as at the ecosystem-based management expert group and related activities.
Why is the Arctic Council and the Scientific Task Force, in particular, a good forum in which to discuss the issues related to scientific cooperation?
The reason this is a good forum is that the Arctic States and others have been able to bring scientific experts to contribute to the work of the group. We have representatives from key science agencies and we also have the participation of many observers including science experts of some Observers. So we have a very strong group available to focus on these issues.
The Arctic Council Scientific Cooperation Task Force has had two meetings since its establishment by Ministers of the eight Arctic States in Kiruna in May 2013. Its next meeting will be held in Reykjavik, Iceland on May 27-28.
The task force is jointly chaired by the United States, Sweden and the Russian Federation.