The Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council hold their first joint meeting in Reykjavik today, 9 October 2019, bringing together government representatives of the eight Arctic States, business representatives, as well as representatives of the indigenous Permanent Participants, and the Councils’ respective Working Groups. The meeting is a step towards enhancing cooperation and collaboration between the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council, as outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding the secretariats of both Councils signed last May. The discussions in Reykjavik will focus on subject areas of common interest, such as marine transportation and blue economy, telecommunications connectivity, responsible resource development and mainstreaming biodiversity, as well as on responsible investments and corporate social responsibility.
For the first time delegates of the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council will gather for a joint meeting. On 9 October 2019, government representatives of the eight Arctic States, business representatives, members of Arctic indigenous Peoples’ Organizations represented in both Councils, and experts of the Councils’ Working Groups come together in Reykjavik, Iceland, to discuss common Arctic issues.
The foundation for this meeting was laid in Rovaniemi, Finland, earlier this year, as the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU provides a framework on how the two Councils can better cooperate on their shared goals. This includes a regular exchange of information and expertise, and the first joint meeting of the two Councils is a step towards this objective.
To foster an active exchange and to cover the wide ground of shared interests, the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council have identified four common main themes for their discussions in Reykjavik: marine transportation and blue economy, telecommunications connectivity, responsible resource development and mainstreaming biodiversity, and responsible investments and corporate social responsibility.
These themes reflect the present priorities of the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council as they are outlined in their respective Chairmanship programs. Iceland currently chairs both the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council and aims at leveraging this opportunity to strengthen cooperation between the Councils.
“The overarching theme of our Arctic Council Chairmanship is ‘together towards a sustainable Arctic’ and by definition this includes environmental, social and economic efforts. The Arctic Council has focused much of its work on environmental protection and the well-being of Arctic inhabitants. With new economic opportunities and challenges emerging in the Arctic, I think we can benefit from working closer together with the Arctic Economic Council on promoting responsible economic development,” states Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson, Chair of the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials.
Heiðar Guðjónsson, Chair of the Arctic Economic Council, echoes the mutual benefit of a closer collaboration: “The development of our societies and value creation in the Arctic are dependent on sustainable growth based on the scientific foundation to which the Arctic Council has contributed greatly. Arctic businesses play an important role in the development of growth, value creation, and employment opportunities in our communities. Therefore, I am proud to co-chair the first joint meeting with the Arctic Council on behalf of the AEC and look forward to discussing potential areas of collaboration together with the representatives of the Arctic States and the indigenous organizations.”