March 27, 2014 – The Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials held their second meeting under Canada’s Chairmanship in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories on March 26-27, 2014. The theme for Canada’s Chairmanship is “Development for the People of the North.”

The Arctic Council is the premier intergovernmental forum for Arctic issues, bringing together representatives from the eight Arctic States and six indigenous Permanent Participant organizations, together with observers from a number of countries and organizations.

In Yellowknife, Senior Arctic Officials heard from the Arctic Council’s six working groups and four task forces on the progress being made on the priorities outlined by Arctic Council Ministers at the Kiruna Ministerial meeting in May 2013.

The Senior Arctic Officials approved a number of items at the meeting including the:

  • Document “Facilitating the Creation of the Arctic Economic Council” – the AEC will aim to foster sustainable development, including economic growth, environmental protection and social development in the Arctic Region;
  • Project proposal for the “Promoting Traditional Ways of Life” initiative, which will create a collection of best practices and successful approaches to promoting traditional way of life; and
  • “Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Guidelines: Systems Safety Management and Safety Culture Report”, which will provide targeted guidance on protecting the marine environment from major accidents by improving safety management.

The Chair of the Arctic Council and Canada’s Minister for the Arctic Council, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, commended the Senior Arctic Officials for their agreement to move forward with the creation of the Arctic Economic Council (AEC), which is a key initiative of Canada's Arctic Council Chairmanship. “The AEC will play an important role in building a sustainable and vibrant future for the region, for the benefit of Northerners”, said Minister Aglukkaq.  

Senior Arctic Officials and Permanent Participants took note of the Arctic Council Secretariat’s annual report and its communications implementation plan as well as progress reports from the working groups. They also provided guidance to working groups and task forces on a number of issues including short-lived climate pollutants, climate change adaptation, enhancing science cooperation in the Arctic, marine oil pollution prevention, traditional and local knowledge, promoting mental wellness in circumpolar communities, Arctic marine tourism, risk assessment of the marine environment, implementation of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, and migratory bird conservation.  

Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials Patrick Borbey was pleased with the meeting outcomes, remarking “At almost the midway point of the Canadian Chairmanship, we are making good progress on the Council’s priority initiatives”.

The Arctic Council is committed to communicating the results of its work to people of the Arctic states.  While in Yellowknife, the Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) working group facilitated an outreach event in the community of Dettah. This event included a discussion between Arctic Council representatives and community members on climate change adaptation, and was followed by a community feast.  The outreach event was moderated by Camilia Zoe-Chocolate of the Arctic Athabaskan Council, an Arctic Council Permanent Participant organization.

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To see a backgrounder on the Arctic Council, click here.

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Photo: ACS/Linnea Nordström