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.

The Senior Arctic Officials’ plenary meeting in Hveragerði will bring together representatives from the eight Arctic States, six Indigenous Permanent Participant organizations, six Working Groups, and the Observers. The two-day meeting will include a special focus on People and Communities of the Arctic, drawing attention to ongoing Arctic Council projects on education, youth engagement, gender equality, health, as well as economic opportunities and further collaboration with the Arctic Economic Council. Across these topics, the Icelandic Chairmanship will emphasize cross-cutting cooperation between all entities of the Council. Thus, the agenda reflects Iceland’s Chairmanship theme: Together towards a sustainable Arctic.

Iceland assumed the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2019-2021) at the Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi in May 2019. For its two-year term, Iceland has outlined four priority themes: the Arctic Marine Environment, Climate and Green Energy Solutions, People and Communities in the Arctic, and a Stronger Arctic Council. Click here to access the Icelandic Chairmanship program.

“The Arctic Council is unique in that it brings together public officials, Indigenous leaders and the scientific community, both from within and beyond the Arctic region to discuss all three aspects of sustainable development: environment, society, and economy. In order to act upon the Council’s mandate, we need to leverage partnerships on those topics”, says Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials.

In advance of the Senior Arctic Officials’ plenary meeting, the Chairs of the Working Groups and representatives from the Council’s Observers will meet to discuss the work of the Council relating to the Chairmanship’s emphasis on People and Communities of the Arctic. The overall objective of this meeting is to foster closer collaboration and facilitate knowledge-sharing between the Arctic Council and Observer states and organizations.

“Many of the Arctic Council’s Observers contribute expertise and resources to Working Group projects. The discussions between the Working Groups and Observers will feed into our plenary meeting and, I am certain, this shared knowledge-building can contribute to paving the way forward to a more resilient and sustainable future for Arctic communities”, states Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson.

In line with the meeting’s focus on Peoples and Communities of the Arctic, delegates will also receive a report from the 2019 Arctic Indigenous Leaders’ Summit, a joint event by the Council’s Permanent Participants organized by the Saami Council in Rovaniemi one week prior the Senior Arctic Officials’ plenary meeting.

Following the meeting, Ambassador Gunnarsson will be available to brief the press (Thursday 21 November 14:30 local time). Journalists wishing to join the press conference in person or remotely are invited to register via the Press briefing registration form ( or respond directly to Этот адрес электронной почты защищён от спам-ботов. У вас должен быть включен JavaScript для просмотра. to receive call-in information.


Background facts

Established in 1996, the Arctic Council is at the forefront of Arctic cooperation. Since its establishment it has become the most important body for promoting a positive agenda and coordinating joint action on all vital issues in the region. The Arctic Council focuses on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. It holds Senior Arctic Officials’ meetings roughly every six months, and Ministerial meetings every two years.

The Icelandic Chairmanship runs from 2019-2021, after which Russia will assume the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Learn more:
The Arctic Council website
The Arctic States
The Indigenous Permanent Participant Organizations
The Working Groups
The Observers