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Scientific Cooperation: Making a good thing even better

The Arctic Council’s Scientific Cooperation Task Force, established by the Kiruna Declaration of May, 2013, had its first meeting in Stockholm, Sweden on 10-11 December. The workshop was primarily a scoping session, exploring the best path forward for the Task Force.

The challenge that confronts the Arctic Council’s Scientific Cooperation Task Force is, in the words of Senior Arctic Official Anton Vasiliev, one of “making something good even better”. In the first meeting of the Task Force, held in Stockholm, Sweden at the Museum of Natural History on 10-11 December 2013, the attendees worked to hammer out a clear understanding of the Task Force’s desired end product.

The participants agreed that the purpose of the Task Force was not to write a new over-arching list of Arctic scientific priorities but to compare existing national priorities in order to see where there are common objectives and possible gaps. The main topics of discussion involved the International Polar Initiative, priorities in Arctic research, sharing of data, simplification of the movement of samples across borders, research logistics and funding of possible projects and research in the Arctic.

Gustaf Lind, one of the co-chairs of the Task Force, said of the meeting: “It was a very productive meeting which showed that many of our Arctic research priorities are similar“.

Forty-five delegates participated in the meeting, including representatives of eleven observer states and organizations. All eight Arctic Council states attended, including the SAOs from Sweden, Russia and Iceland. Of the Arctic Council’s Permanent Participants, the Aleut International Association was in attendance, as were representatives of four Working Groups: AMAP, EPPR, PAME and SDWG. The observers, who took part in the first day of the meeting, included representatives from Spain, Germany, India, Japan, the European Union, the International Arctic Science Committee, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Northern Forum, the University of the Arctic, the WWF, and the Association of World Reindeer Herders.

The Task Force was established by the Kiruna Declaration of May, 2013, in which ministers from the eight Arctic states agreed to establish a task force “to work towards an arrangement on improved scientific research cooperation among the eight Arctic states”. Its mandate, taken from the original terms of reference, is to “emphasise the need for greater international collaboration to promote knowledge of Arctic marine ecosystems, climate change impacts, adaptation and resilience, and other aspects of the Arctic.” (from SAOs’ Report to Ministers from the Kiruna meeting)

The Task Force is jointly chaired by:

  • Gustaf Lind of Sweden
  • Anton Vasiliev of the Russian Federation
  • Evan Bloom of the United States