During the opening of the Senior Arctic Officials' meeting in Haparanda 14 November Magnús Jóhannesson was presented as the first Director of the new standing Secretariat of the Arctic Council in Tromsø, Norway. Mr. Jóhannesson is eager to begin work in February next year and believes that the Secretariat will be important to ensure continuity and coordination of the Arctic Council work.

"The establishment of the standing Secretariat for the Arctic Council is in my opinion a historic event in the development of the Arctic Council. The activities of the Arctic Council have grown enormously since it was established in 1996. The Secretariat will ensure better continuity in the work of the council through the rotating chairmanship."

Management and environmental experience

Mr. Jóhannesson currently works as Secretary General for the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources in Iceland. He began working for the Ministry for the Environment in 1992 and led the work of Iceland´s first Sustainable Development Strategy in 1993.

He has extensive experience in management, establishing and reforming organizations and developing strategies. He has considerable experience in environmental project financing and good experience in leading international debates and negotiations on environmental issues.

"I am really looking forward to working with and for the Senior Arctic Officials and the Permanent Participants. We must ensure that the Secretariat can facilitate in the most efficient way the work of the Council and strengthen the cooperation between council members for the benefit of sustainable development in the Arctic."

Relaying Arctic Council work 

For the last year and a half Mr. Jóhannesson has also been the chair of the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) working group and co-chair of the Ecosystem-based Management Experts Group of the Arctic Council.

"It is also important that the extensive work, findings and decisions of the Arctic Council are made known to the citizens of the Arctic Council States as well as the International Community. The Secretariat will have an important role in supporting the communication of these matters to the public at large in the Arctic Council member states as well as to the global community. I really look forward to working on these important challenges along with the staff of the new Secretariat. "