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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Sustainable use and increasing the value of goods produced from biological aquatic resources plays an important role for driving sustainable economic growth in the Artic - particularly for development in coastal and rural communities. This is what we call the blue bioeconomy. Put simply, it is about sustainably maximising the value and use of aquatic bioresources, producing food, feed, bio-products and bioenergy. The main drivers behind the development of the blue bioeconomy are research and development, innovation and knowledge transfer.

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Gender Equality in the Arctic (GEA) is a project of the Arctic Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG). The project focuses on gender equality with an emphasis on diversity in terms of discourses, Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, governance, education, economies, and social realities. The GEA project strives to contribute to sustainability and balanced participation in leadership and decision making both in the public and private sectors.

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A new International Symposium on Plastics in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic will bring together experts on marine plastics to share new and emerging knowledge and best practices. 

The symposium will bring together experts on marine plastics to share knowledge and best practices, with the ultimate goal to feed into the Arctic Council’s regional action plan for the Arctic.

When: 21-23 April, 2020
Where: Reykjavík, Iceland
Key dates:

  • 1 November 2019 - Early bird registration ends
  • 1 December 2019 - Abstract submission deadline
  • 15 January 2020 - Acceptance of abstracts finalized
  • 1 February 2020 - Program finalized; End of registration

Learn more and register here.

Iceland holds the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from May 2019 to May 2021 and the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2019. In both roles, the Icelandic Government is focused on the ocean, and particularly on the fight against plastic in the marine environment.

Therefore, the Government of Iceland has decided to host the first International Symposium on Plastics in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic in collaboration with the Nordic Council of Ministers in connection with the Icelandic Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. On behalf of the government of Iceland, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources, and the Ministry of Industries and Innovation are responsible for the preparation of the Symposium.

Sponsors of the symposium are the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the OSPAR Commission, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC), the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute of Iceland, the Harvard Kennedy School and the International Arctic Science Committee.

 

The Arctic Council will host a side event at this year’s Our Ocean conference in Oslo on 23 October. The side event is themed “A Cleaner Arctic Marine Environment – Battling Marine Debris in the Arctic” and is organized jointly with the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs and two of the Council’s Working Groups: the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme and the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group.

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The Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council hold their first joint meeting in Reykjavik today, 9 October 2019, bringing together government representatives of the eight Arctic States, business representatives, as well as representatives of the indigenous Permanent Participants, and the Councils’ respective Working Groups. The meeting is a step towards enhancing cooperation and collaboration between the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council, as outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding the secretariats of both Councils signed last May. The discussions in Reykjavik will focus on subject areas of common interest, such as marine transportation and blue economy, telecommunications connectivity, responsible resource development and mainstreaming biodiversity, as well as on responsible investments and corporate social responsibility.

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