Interview with Meredith Rubin, the United States' Senior Arctic Official

2 December 2020
Meredith Rubin is a career Foreign Service Officer with a lot of Arctic experience under her belt. We asked her about her experience, what she enjoys about her work and how the pandemic has impacted her working reality and that of the Council.

What is your background and for how long have you been involved in the work of the Arctic Council?

I am a career Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State who has served in Central Asia, the Balkans and the Arctic. My engagement with the Council dates back to 2010 when I worked at the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik. The United States and Russia were co-chairing the negotiations in Iceland for what is now the Search and Rescue Agreement, the first of three binding agreements negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council. It was inspiring to see the Arctic States working together on this initiative to provide greater collective safety and security for the Arctic region. The additional progress achieved by the Council since that time – across the Council’s mandate – and the impact that the Council has had since those days in 2010 demonstrates the continued importance of our work in addressing global challenges and maintaining peace, stability and constructive cooperation in the region.

What are the elements of the work of the Arctic Council that you enjoy most?

I really enjoy the Arctic Council’s collaborative approach. I am particularly appreciative of the perspectives and experiences that the Permanent Participants contribute. Their first-hand experiences, which go back generations, provide important human connections that further demonstrate the importance of our work.

How has your working reality changed over the past months with the global pandemic and how do you feel this has impacted processes within the Council?

There are so many virtual meetings now! On the one hand, it has been great to see how quickly we have been able to adapt to the virtual environment. The Council was already quite adept with virtual interactions due to the circumpolar nature of our work, so much of the Council’s work has continued despite the inability to meet in person. The COVID-19 report we issued earlier this year and the recent SAO Marine Mechanism are two good examples. But I am very much looking forward to being able to meet with everyone in person rather than on a screen, and I’m also ready to get back to Iceland.

What are you most looking forward to when AC meetings can take place in person again?

Meeting in person again will hopefully mean that the pandemic is under control, so there is lots to look forward to when that happens. It will be nice to see everyone in person again. The virtual meetings have helped us remain connected, but can’t fully replace the in-person interactions.

What is one of your most memorable Arctic experiences?

Sitting in a boat in Ilulissat, Greenland and watching icebergs float by under the midnight sun was an experience I will never forget.