Next stop: Luleå 26 July 2011 The Swedish Chairmanship 2011-2013 From 12 May 2011 Sweden is chairing the Arctic Council. In its chairmanship programme, Sweden intends to focus on several issues such as prevention of oil emissions, climate change, resilience, biodiversity and environmental protection. Concerning the peoples in the Arctic, Sweden intends to listen to the views of the Arctic indigenous peoples, focus on languages and food safety, among others. Sweden aims to strengthen both SDWG (Sustainable Development Working Group), develop a strategic communications plan for the Arctic Council and initiate discussions with the business community on economic development. The following quotation is the opening statement in Sweden's chairmanship programme published in May 2011: "Interest in the Arctic has grown in recent years. The Arctic environment is unique and highly sensitive to disturbances. The region is heavily affected by ongoing climate change, technological development and increasing commercial activities. Temperatures have already risen twice as quickly in the Arctic as elsewhere on Earth. Glaciers and sea ice are melting more extensively than in the past. While efforts must be made to slow the rapid changes, plant and animal life will have to adapt to new conditions. As the ice withdraws, technological advances are creating opportunities to open transport routes across the Arctic Ocean and exploit the natural resources of the Arctic. These developments must be managed in a responsible and sustainable manner so that they benefit the region and do not lead to undesired side effects. For the region's inhabitants, developments in the Arctic are a source of both challenges and opportunities..." Read all of Sweden's Chairmanship Programme for the Arctic Council 2011-2013 (pdf 2.4 MB) Download Sweden's strategy for the Arctic region (pdf 251 KB) The first Senior Arctic Official (SAO) meeting under the Swedish Chairmanship will take place in Luleå (Sweden) on 8-9 November 2011. Photo by NEXTORS/flickr (Creative Commons) "Road from Luleå to Bensbyn"