Fast forward through the Chairmanship 5 March 2019Finland On 13-14 March 2019, the Arctic Council will gather in Ruka, Finland for the fourth Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting during the Chairmanship of Finland (2017-2019). With preparations for the Ministerial meeting in May high on the agenda, the Arctic Council Working Groups and other subsidiary bodies will present the wide range of projects and initiatives they have completed over the past two years – a fast forward summary of the Chairmanship’s achievements. On 13-14 March 2019, the Arctic Council will gather in Ruka, Finland for the fourth Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting during the Chairmanship of Finland (2017-2019). With preparations for the Ministerial meeting in May high on the agenda, the Arctic Council Working Groups and other subsidiary bodies will present the wide range of projects and initiatives they have completed over the past two years – a fast forward summary of the Chairmanship’s achievements. The Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting in Ruka will bring together representatives from the eight Arctic States, the six indigenous Permanent Participant organizations, six Working Groups, and over 30 Observer states and organizations. They will focus their discussions on finalizing the initiatives undertaken during the Finnish Chairmanship. Finland’s Chairmanship (2017-2019) will conclude with the Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi in May 2019. During its two-year term, Finland has put an emphasis on four priority themes: environmental protection, connectivity, meteorological cooperation, and education. In total, the Council’s Working Groups, Task Forces and Expert Group will present close to 50 activities to the Senior Arctic Officials. This is a clear indicator that the Arctic Council and its subsidiary bodies generate a wealth of knowledge through continuous joint efforts, finds Ambassador Aleksi Härkönen, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials. “Over the past two years, experts from Arctic States, Permanent Participants, and Observers have significantly contributed to our knowledge base within the four priority areas of our Chairmanship. I am very much looking forward to the presentations of the Working Groups, Expert Group, and Task Forces. They will sum-up many of the activities that have been going on during our Chairmanship, and I hope – and believe – that we will all return from this meeting with a sense of accomplishment”, says Ambassador Härkönen. The Working Groups will also present their work plans for the years 2019 to 2021. Furthermore, the chairs of the Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane, the Task Force for Arctic Marine Cooperation, and the Task Force on Improved Connectivity in the Arctic will give an overview of their final reports. These will all be included in the Senior Arctic Officials’ Report to Ministers 2019 currently being finalized. The Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting in Ruka will also give the incoming Icelandic Chairmanship team an opportunity to present an update on its program for 2019-2021. Iceland is taking over the Chairmanship after the conclusion of the Ministerial meeting in May 2019. The Arctic Council Ministerial meeting will take place in Rovaniemi on 6-7 May 2019. Following the meeting, Ambassador Härkönen will brief the press on Thursday 14 March 18:00 local time in Ruka, Finland. Background facts Established in 1996, the Arctic Council is at the forefront of Arctic cooperation. In its first 22 years it has become the most important body for promoting a positive agenda and coordinating joint action on all vital issues in the region. The Council is presently developing a strategic plan, the first of its kind for the Council as a whole that will guide the Council’s activities into the future. The Arctic Council focuses on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. The Council holds Senior Arctic Officials’ meetings roughly every six months, and Ministerial meetings roughly every two years. The next Ministerial meeting will take place 6-7 May 2019. The Finnish Chairmanship runs from 2017-2019, after which Iceland will assume the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The eight Arctic States are Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States. The six indigenous Permanent Participant organizations are the Aleut International Association, the Arctic Athabaskan Council, the Gwich’in Council International, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the Saami Council, and RAIPON – the Russian Association of Indigenous People of the North.