Actors and patterns of cooperation and conflict
Arctic Council ministerial meeting, April 2009
The Ottawa Declaration of 1996 formally established the Arctic Council as a high level intergovernmental forum to provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.
Member States of the Arctic Council are Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America.
On 29 April ministers and representatives of Arctic Council members met in Tromsø, Norway for the biannual ministerial meeting. More delegates, observers and guests than ever attended an Arctic Council meeting. The main item on the agenda was climate change.
The meeting marked the end of the Norwegian chairmanship of the Arctic Council, and for the next two years Denmark will chair the forum. The main item on the agenda was climate change. Climate change was also discussed at a conference on ice melting hosted by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Al Gore, and Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, in Tromsø the day before the ministerial. The ice melting conference and the ministerial received great international interest. More delegates, observers and guests than ever attended an Arctic Council meeting.
The meeting resulted in recommendations linked to issues such as search and rescue, infrastructure projects, IMO’s guidelines for ships operating in Arctic ice-covered waters and support of mandatory regulations on safety and environmental protection for Arctic waters; non-CO2 drivers of climate change, and advice on principles for ecosystems-based ocean management.
The Council also received final reports with recommendations from several projects on climate change, the International Polar Year, the Arctic marine environment and shipping, human health and human development, energy, contaminants and biodiversity.
Finally, applications from China, South Korea, Italy and the European Union to obtain permanent observer status to the Council were discussed, but no consensus was reached, leading to the conclusion that the topic needs further consideration. A decision on this was therefore put on hold until the next ministerial meeting.
See also the Norwegian Government’s High North portal (in Norwegian)