The first Deputy Ministers’ Meeting under the Swedish Chairmanship was held in Stockholm on Tuesday 15 May. The meeting, hosted by State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Frank Belfrage, was met with great approval.
The Kiruna Statement is a proposal presented by the Swedish Chairmanship. In May 2013, the Foreign Ministers of the Arctic States will meet in Kiruna in northern Sweden, at which time Canada will assume the responsibilities of Chair. The Statement is intended to be a document that will be released as a supplement to the Declaration adopted at the Ministerial meeting. Embarking on the second round of Chairmanships is an opportunity for the Arctic Council to present a long-term visionary statement for the general public and the world at large. The Deputy Ministers approved the proposal and the Senior Arctic Officials (SAOs) have been tasked with starting negotiations on the Kiruna Statement. Chairmanship Memo on Ministerial Statement.
The Communication strategy for the Arctic Council, a priority of the Swedish Chairmanship, was also adopted. The strategy is now entering an implementation phase and, in that context, the Arctic Council Communication Group met in Stockholm on Wednesday 16 May to set the groundwork for successful communication.
The Arctic Council Deputy Ministers officially decided to kick off a new project called Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic (AACA), which has been initiated by Norway. The purpose of the project is to gather information and produce relevant data to enable decision-makers to take the measures necessary to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing Arctic region. “The Deputy Ministers of the Arctic States, together with the indigenous peoples’ representatives, have today agreed to move forward together to ensure that the unique Arctic environment is preserved and that natural resources are utilised in a sustainable way,” said Mr Belfrage about the newly-approved AACA Arctic Council project.
The documents supporting the establishment of the standing Arctic Council Secretariat in Tromsø, Norway, were approved by the Arctic Deputy Ministers. The Secretariat will be in place by the beginning of the Canadian Chairmanship in May 2013.
Anton Vasiliev, SAO for the Russian Federation, delivered an update on the work of the Task Force on Oil Spill Preparedness and Response. Morris Rosenberg, Deputy Minister from Canada, highlighted the success of the International Polar Year Conference held in Montreal in April, where more than two thousand delegates participated.
Finally, a recommendation regarding Observers in the Arctic Council was released after the meeting.