Canada's Arctic Council Chairmanship
On 5 November 2013, Ecologic Institute and the Embassy of Canada, Berlin, hosted a presentation by Jeannette Menzies, head of the Canadian International Centre for the Arctic Region (CICAR), on the topic of "Canada's Arctic Council Chairmanship". Jeannette Menzies elaborated on Canadian priorities and key initiatives for the next two years in this important regional forum. Arne Riedel, Researcher at Ecologic Institute, moderated the ensuing discussion with an expert audience – including fellows of the Arctic Summer College, via live video stream – covering a number of areas. In addition to questions regarding the Arctic Council, the included other issues, such as support for and exchange in science and research, as well as the inclusion of the private sector in the economic development of the region.
Since its foundation in 1996, the Arctic Council has served as the leading body for international cooperation on Arctic issues. Its membership is made up of the eight Arctic States – Canada, the U.S., Russia, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Iceland – and six indigenous Permanent Participant organizations. On 15 May 2013, at the last ministerial meeting in Kiruna (Sweden), Canada assumed the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council for the second time. For the next two years, Canada's priority theme in the Arctic Council is Development for the People of the North.
R. Andreas Kraemer, Director of the Ecologic Institute, and Agnes Kolodziej from the Embassy of Canada welcomed the guests and underlined the strong and multi-faceted cooperation on Arctic issues. In her presentation, Jeannette Menzies (CICAR) provided an overview of the Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy and the Canadian chairmanship agenda and elaborated on key themes, including responsible Arctic resource development, safe Arctic shipping, and sustainable circumpolar communities.
After the presentation, the audience engaged in a lively discussion on a number of Arctic issues, moderated by Arne Riedel, Researcher at Ecologic Institute. With a view to the Arctic Council, the discussion included the future role of observers in this forum, its relationship with other fora such as the newly founded "Arctic Circle" initiative, and the involvement of the private sector, for instance via the planned Arctic Business Forum. Social and environmental aspects were also debated, such as tackling indigenous health issues and balancing impacts of resource development in the area. Science in the Arctic region was a recurring theme of the discussion, covering activities, their interdependencies, and the Arctic Council's initiatives in this field.