Last week three of the Arctic Council working groups held their last meetings before the Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna in May. The ACAP, CAFF, and PAME working groups made the final changes to the assessments and reports which will be presented to the Arctic Ministers. The working groups also completed reports over their activities 2011-2013 and their work plans for 2013-2015.

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View the video from the Host Country Agreement signing ceremony in Tromsø last week. In the video you can hear some of the speeches held by Espen Barth Eide, Carl Bildt and Leona Aglukkaq and also observe the signing of the Host Country Agreement between Norway and the new Director of the secretariat Magnús Jóhannesson. 

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The cultural heritage of the Arctic, the history of the exploration of the Arctic and the life of the region’s inhabitants are highly important. However, these can often be hard to restore, because the information resources are rare and incomplete, have different formats and languages and is spread across many countries.

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Arctic 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.

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As December 24 draws near children all over the world wait impatiently for Santa Claus to arrive with their gifts. In the Arctic countries Santa Claus goes by many different names and wears a variety of symbolic costumes. From North America to Russia to Scandinavia, the Santa Claus figure is celebrated in different ways in the regions of the Arctic.

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On December 6 in Doha, as the COP 18 climate change negotiations switched gears for the finale, the Swedish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council arranged a side event on climate change in the Arctic. The event was held against the background of the rapid and ominous development lately in the Arctic, in particular the past summer's sea ice melt. The event was well attended and a strong panel including Martin Lidegaard, climate and energy minister of Denmark, Jens Fredriksen, Minister for housing, infrastructure and transport from Greenland, and Lena Ek, Swedish Minister for the Environment, contributed to a lively discussion.

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