© Arctic Council Secretariat / Jessica Cook

Strategic planning with Indigenous Permanent Participant Organizations during Norwegian Chairship meeting

For the third time since the onset of the Norwegian Chairship a year ago, the Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials convened a meeting with the representatives of the six Permanent Participants to foster collaboration and joint objectives. On the agenda were discussions on enhanced involvement in Working Group projects, strategic planning, and a dialogue with the incoming Chairship team of the Kingdom of Denmark.

On 28-29 May, the Chair of the Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials held a meeting with representatives of the six Indigenous Peoples’ organizations that have Permanent Participant status in the Arctic Council. More than 30 participants gathered for the hybrid meeting held in Bodø, Norway and online on the margins of the Arctic Congress Bodø 2024. Among the delegates were also youth representatives from all 6 Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations who actively participated in the full meeting.

© Arctic Council Secretariat / Minetta Westerlund

It was the third time since assuming the Chairship of the Arctic Council in May 2023 that Norway invited the Permanent Participants to a joint meeting. “We have found this format invaluable to keep a close contact and further our collaboration with our colleagues from the Indigenous Peoples’ organizations. We are facing many urgent issues in the Arctic, which the Arctic Council is uniquely placed to address thanks to the initiative, expertise, and knowledge the Permanent Participants bring to the table,” says Morten Høglund, Chair of the Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials.

Norway has elevated Arctic Indigenous Peoples and youth to cross-cutting priorities of its Chairship program. This includes the ambitions to strengthen cooperation with the Permanent Participants, stressing the importance of their active participation and their valuable contributions in all areas of cooperation under the Council. To this end, meeting participants discussed among other issues how to further strengthen the Permanent Participants’ involvement in the Council’s Working and Expert Groups. The Permanent Participants especially emphasized the opportunities that lie in enhancing the co-production of knowledge.

“Improving the ways we are co-producing knowledge and guaranteeing the equitable and ethical engagement, and full and effective participation, of Indigenous representatives across the Council’s broad project portfolio is in the interest of everyone. It strengthens the Council and benefits our shared future in the Arctic,” says Sara Olsvig, International Chair of Inuit Circumpolar Council.

© Arctic Council Secretariat / Kristina Bär

As Norway heads into the final year of its Chairship term, the Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials also sought to engage the Permanent Participants in a strategic planning discussion on emerging issues and priorities that can guide the Chairship’s efforts over the coming months. The Permanent Participants’ youth delegates kicked off the discussions by sharing some of the most pressing issues they and their peers are facing and would like to see addressed in the Council’s work. These topics included the preservation of cultural practices and Indigenous knowledge, mental health, wildland fires, environmental threats to traditional food sources and discrimination – issues which framed the further discussions on future priority areas.

“I commend the youth delegates on raising issues that are important to Indigenous young people across the Arctic with clear and brave messages. We have listened carefully and will take their input to heart both as we plan the remaining months of our Chairship and work with colleagues from the Kingdom of Denmark who will proceed us in chairing the Council”, states Morten Høglund.

Norway had also invited the Kingdom of Denmark delegation to join the second part of the meeting to share the progress on the planning and preparations for its incoming Chairship (2025-2027) and to engage in a dialogue between the Permanent Participants and the Kingdom on priorities and focus areas.

In closing, the Chairship shared information around the Chairship’s Arctic Youth Conference, which will take place in Tromsø, Norway on 24-26 January, 2025. The program will be co-developed by a Chairship Youth Committee, which among other youths includes the Saami Council youth delegate.