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Senior Arctic Officials’ Meeting Advances Arctic Council Agenda

23 October 2015
Representatives from the eight Arctic States and the Permanent Participants (six organizations representing Arctic Indigenous peoples) met in Anchorage, Alaska on October 20-22, 2015 to advance the work of the Arctic Council.

This first plenary meeting of the Council during the U.S. Chairmanship (2015-2017) addressed:

The six Working Groups and three current Task Forces of the Arctic Council support much of this work through their research and assessments.

More wide-ranging discussions also covered:

  • The Council’s work on climate change and oceans;
  • The ways in which Traditional and Local Knowledge (TLK) is considered and used in the Council’s work;
  • Strengthening the Council’s work by defining how the Council relates to external bodies; and
  • Strengthening the capacity of the six Permanent Participant organizations to engage in, and contribute to, the Council’s work at all levels.

Senior Arctic Officials (SAOs) used the occasion to approve a groundbreaking white paper on safe operation of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for scientific data collection in the Arctic, as well as a collection of educational toolkits for children, which are directed towards the next generation of scientists and policymakers. In addition, SAOs made a final decision to move the Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat from its present location in Copenhagen to Tromsø, Norway.

Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials Ambassador David Balton said: “The Arctic Council is rising to the challenge of meeting significantly greater expectations. With attention on the Arctic region at an all-time high, this meeting demonstrated the ability of the Arctic Council to bring together Arctic States, Arctic Indigenous representatives and a large number of Observers to work toward a safer, healthier and sustainable Arctic.”

In addition to the official agenda, the week of the Arctic Council meetings included many complementary events hosted by the Alaska Arctic Council Host Committee and other organizations in Anchorage and around Alaska.

Established in 1996, the Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among Arctic states, Indigenous peoples and inhabitants on common Arctic issues, including sustainable development and environmental protection. The United States currently holds the Chairmanship (2015-2017); Finland will assume the Chairmanship in 2017.