Editorial by Stefán Skjaldarson, Ambassador and Moderator at the Arctic Council’s COP25 side-event.

It was very inspiring to see the high level of interest for the Arctic Council and its work at the COP25 in Madrid. The turnout at the Council’s side event All Aboard! Tackling Polar Ocean Acidification, held in the conference’s Cryosphere Pavilion, was quite impressive and discussions I had with some of the attendees after the event, not least young people, gave me confidence that the work we do matters to many. The success of the event also confirmed to me that the Arctic Council’s science-based approach to meet the environmental challenges we face, as well as the active involvement of the Arctic indigenous peoples, is extremely important to succeed with our work.

The presentations by the scientists and the gloomy perspectives they gave of our future if we do not act decisively now, caught the attention of those present. Their accounts of the different challenges we face in the Arctic, due to melting of the ice and fast-increasing ocean acidification, and their calls for action, left the audience with a true sense of urgency. Moreover, we were presented with concrete examples of how this all affects the livelihood of the indigenous peoples of the North.

The event shows that people, not least young people, are listening and that our actions - or inactions – are watched closely and that we will be judged by our performance. We must therefore keep up the good work by using the best of science combined with indigenous knowledge, to lay the foundation for meaningful decisions and actions. In this context I would like to mention AMAP’s Arctic Ocean Acidification Report as well as their highly valuable policy recommendations, both of which were presented at the event. Also, the perspectives presented by the Inuit Circumpolar Council gave us all a sense of how the livelihoods of Arctic indigenous peoples are affected and how indigenous knowledge that has been passed down for thousands of years, is relevant when meeting the challenges of the fast changing Arctic environment.

Indeed, other countries, regions and continents will also need to act responsibly if we are to make meaningful progress in addressing the root causes of ocean acidification in the Arctic. We who live in the Arctic should therefore not only use the knowledge we have and the knowledge we will acquire in our work at home. We must also share it and use it to make the world aware of the consequences that their actions and inactions have on the Arctic environment. Moreover, that the changes happening in Arctic also can have dire consequences for the world outside the Arctic. That is why it is so important that the Arctic Council reach out to the wider world by i.e. organizing events of the kind we did in Madrid.

Arctic youth is not just the future but also the present. A slogan that Indigenous youth leaders coined when they got together for the first Arctic Leaders’ Youth Summit in Rovaniemi, Finland, in November 2019. They called for a more active involvement in the issues that affect them – now and in future – and in doing so they joined a global movement of young people that are speaking up for their rights as they see their future imperiled by climate change.

Over the years, the Arctic Council has stepped up its efforts to engage youth. Working Groups such as the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) and the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) have been forerunners in not just looking at how youth is affected by a changing Arctic but in actively involving them in their projects.

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First Senior Arctic Officials’ plenary meeting during Iceland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council places emphasis on people and communities

On 20-21 November 2019, the Arctic Council will gather in Hveragerði, Iceland, for the first Senior Arctic Officials’ plenary meeting during the Chairmanship of Iceland (2019-2021). The meeting will focus on work related to People and Communities of the Arctic. Iceland puts an emphasis on cooperation between all entities of the Council – reflecting the Chairmanship’s overarching theme: Together towards a sustainable Arctic.

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Editorial by Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials


Reflecting back on the first ever joint meeting of the Arctic Economic Council and the Arctic Council earlier this month I can honestly say it left a mark on me. It left me feeling inspired to do more. And I think that was the general mood of the meeting: An appetite for more. For more dialogue, more understanding, more collaboration. And that inspires optimism and a feeling that we are on to something. Something new, exciting and, what is most important: Something sensible.

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