The Arctic Council’s Task Force for Enhancing Scientific Cooperation in the Arctic (SCTF) held its sixth meeting in Copenhagen on August 19-20, 2015. Fifty delegates attended the meeting, including representatives from all eight Arctic Council Member States, Permanent Participant organizations the Aleut International Association (AIA) and the Saami Council, and Working Group AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme). Observers in attendance included France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO), the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) and the University of the Arctic (UArctic). The European Union also attended.
The SCTF was established at the eighth Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna, Sweden in May 2013. At the ninth Ministerial meeting in Iqaluit, Canada in April 2015, Ministers of the Arctic States decided to extend the Task Force’s mandate, including its instructions to work towards a legally-binding agreement on scientific cooperation, with a view to completing its work no later than the next Ministerial meeting.
The sixth meeting of the SCTF took place in Copenhagen, Denmark from 19 August to 20 August and was the first meeting after the renewal of its mandate. The previous five meetings took place in Stockholm (December 2013), Helsinki (April 2014), Reykjavik (May 2014), Tromsø (September 2014) and Oslo (February 2015).
At the sixth meeting in Copenhagen, the focus was on drafting the text of the agreement, the goal of which is to enhance scientific cooperation in the Arctic. Delegations discussed the terms to be used, access to scientific data, infrastructure, and simplification of movement of scientists and their equipment.
In addition to the text negotiations, the delegations received statements on scientific cooperation from those Observers that were present at the meeting. The European Union also gave a presentation on the EU’s Arctic Research Policy, including its current programs and financial mechanisms.
Both Co-Chairs Evan Bloom of the United States and Vladimir Barbin of Russian Federation noted the excellent progress achieved at the sixth meeting and suggested that the discussions would continue in December 2015.