Senior Arctic Officials gather for first meeting during Finland’s Arctic Council Chairmanship 18 October 2017Finland On 25-26 October 2017, the Arctic Council will gather in Oulu, Finland for the first Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting held during the Chairmanship of Finland (2015-2017). On 25-26 October 2017, the Arctic Council will gather in Oulu, Finland for the first Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting held during the Chairmanship of Finland (2017-2019). The meeting brings together representatives from the eight Arctic States, the six indigenous Permanent Participant organizations, six Working Groups, and over 30 Observer states and organizations. Finland's priorities for the Council are environmental protection, connectivity, meteorological cooperation, and education. The program for this meeting includes discussion of several areas of focus for the Council, including pollution prevention, education, and resilience. The Council will also use the occasion to discuss the recently-signed agreement on scientific cooperation in the Arctic, and the Council’s presence at the upcoming UNFCCC COP23 in Bonn, Germany. Of the upcoming meeting, SAO Chair Aleksi Härkönen said: "I look forward to welcoming the representatives of the Arctic States, the Permanent Participants and the Observers to the hospitable City of Oulu. During our Chairmanship, we want to explore common solutions to common challenges in the Arctic. In this first plenary meeting we will hear about the Arctic Council’s and the Observers’ work to prevent environmental pollution and to improve educational opportunities in the Arctic and get a briefing on the activities of the Arctic Economic Council. These discussions will be valuable also for the strategic planning of the work of the Arctic Council." Following the meeting, Ambassador Aleksi Härkönen, current Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials, will brief the press on Thursday, 26 October, at 6:00 pm local time in Oulu, Finland. Journalists wishing to join the press conference in person or remotely are invited to do so; please RSVP directly to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive call-in information. The Arctic Council held its 10th Ministerial meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska in May of 2017. The meeting, hosted by the United States, was attended by the foreign Ministers of all eight Arctic States. In addition to signing the Fairbanks Declaration (2017), which guides the work of the Arctic Council through the present Chairmanship, Ministers signed a new binding agreement among the Arctic States on enhancing international Arctic scientific cooperation, and admitted seven new entities as Arctic Council Observers. Arctic Council Ministerial meetings are held every two years, while Senior Arctic Officials’ meetings are held roughly every six months between Ministerial meetings. Established in 1996, the Arctic Council is at the forefront of Arctic cooperation and has become the most important body for promoting a positive agenda and coordinating joint action on vital issues in the Arctic region. The Arctic Council has also facilitated the creation of additional structures for regional cooperation and interaction, such as the University of the Arctic, the Arctic Coast Guard Forum, and the Arctic Economic Council. The members of the Arctic Council are the eight Arctic States – Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States. In addition, six organizations representing Arctic indigenous peoples have status as Permanent Participants. They are the Aleut International Association, the Arctic Athabaskan Council, the Gwich’In Council International, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, RAIPON (the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North), and the Saami Council.