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10th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting: a preview

A preview of the upcoming Arctic Council Ministerial meeting, taking place on 11 May 2017 in Fairbanks, Alaska.

On 11 May 2017, the Foreign Ministers of the eight Arctic States will convene, together with delegations from the Council's indigenous Permanent Participant organizations, for the tenth biennial Arctic Council Ministerial meeting. The event will be held in the John A. Carlson Community Activity Center of Fairbanks, Alaska.

The Chairmanship of the Arctic Council rotates every two years. At the last Ministerial meeting, held in Iqaluit, Nunavut, April 24, 2015, the United States took over from Canada. At the meeting in Fairbanks, the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council will pass from the United States to Finland.

The meeting will be streamed live on the website of the U.S. Department of State and on the Arctic Council’s website. To keep apprised of ongoing updates, consider following @USArctic and @ArcticCouncil on Twitter.

The U.S. Chairmanship theme “One Arctic: Shared Opportunities, Challenges and Responsibilities” is reflected in much of the work completed by the Arctic Council’s six Working Groups and Task Forces during the U.S. Chairmanship. Some examples of this work are below.

  • The third binding agreement negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council, the “Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation” will be signed by Ministers of the Arctic States. The agreement addresses such issues as: entry and exit of persons, equipment, and material; access to research infrastructure and facilities; access to research areas; and education, career development, and training opportunities for students and early-career scientists.
  • The TFTIA (Task Force on Telecommunications Infrastructure in the Arctic) will present the report “Telecommunications Infrastructure in the Arctic: A circumpolar assessment”. The report assesses the available telecommunications infrastructure in the Arctic and the present-day needs of users living, working, or traveling in the Arctic.
  • With the Circumpolar Local Environmental Observer Network (CLEO), Working Group ACAP (the Arctic Contaminants Action Program) aims to create an observation community among remote, disparate Arctic communities that helps local observers report unusual health, climate, and environmental anomalies.
  • At the international conference on Arctic science held 24-27 April 2017 in Reston, Virginia, U.S.A., Working Group AMAP (the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme) released the “Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic” (SWIPA) report. The report’s findings strongly indicate that the Arctic Ocean could be largely free of sea ice in summer in only two decades, and that low-end projections of global sea level rise are underestimated.
  • Working Group CAFF (the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna) will present the “State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity” (SAMBR) report. The SAMBR is a synthesis of the state of knowledge about biodiversity in Arctic marine ecosystems, detectable changes, and important gaps in our ability to assess state and trends in biodiversity. It provides an important first step to identify knowledge gaps in circumpolar biodiversity monitoring efforts.
  • Linked to the framework plan on oil pollution prevention that was adopted at the Iqaluit Ministerial meeting in 2015, Working Group EPPR (Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response) is introducing the report “Standardization as a tool for prevention of oil spills in the Arctic”.
  • Working Group PAME (Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment) will present the project Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Network Toolbox: Area-based conservation measures and ecological connectivity. This project aims to inform decision-makers, practitioners, indigenous people, and stakeholders involved in developing MPA networks and ecosystem-based management in the marine Arctic.
  • SDWG (the Sustainable Development Working Group) has carried out a series of health-related projects aimed at improving the health and mental wellness of indigenous and Arctic communities.

These deliverables are just a few among the many that will be presented for Ministerial review and approval at the meeting in Fairbanks.


Yoon Nam, U.S. Department of State
+1 202 294 2545

Tom Fries, Arctic Council Secretariat
+47 911 20 370