U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
September 1, 2015
Chair’s Summary: Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement, and Resilience (GLACIER)
Global leaders convened at GLACIER to highlight international and domestic priorities in the Arctic with a goal of generating momentum and expediting progress towards addressing some of the most pressing issues facing the region. Secretary Kerry thanks all his counterparts and international and domestic leaders for bringing the attention of the world to the challenges facing the Arctic and how these challenges impact the rest of the world.
More than 400 participants, ingrained with a sense of purpose, ambition, and commitment to the Arctic, convened in Anchorage, Alaska to confront the profound changes occurring in this remarkable region. GLACIER brought together foreign ministers of Arctic nations and key non-Arctic states with scientists, policymakers, and members of civil society. No other time in history has a meeting of this scale taken place in Alaska, signifying the importance with which the United States views the Arctic and the critical role of the international community in addressing opportunities and challenges in a cooperative manner.
Ministers and other high-level officials participated in sessions focused on changes in the Arctic and global implications of those changes, climate resilience and adaptation planning, and strengthening coordination on Arctic issues. Other panel discussions brought together international and domestic policymakers, scientists, non-governmental organizations, and industry representatives, as well as representatives of Arctic indigenous peoples and Alaskans. The day’s sessions allowed for greater insight into topics such as, climate change and resilience, emergency response, unregulated Arctic high seas fisheries, black carbon and air quality, renewable energy, observation networks, and innovative solutions to economic efficiency and community health.
The Arctic’s Unique Role in Influencing the Global Climate
Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende presided over a discussion of the dramatic changes affecting the Arctic and the profound impacts on communities and ecosystems throughout the world, including the Arctic’s role in accelerating climate change globally.
The European Union announced its plans to dedicate over the next five years €200 million to Arctic research so that the international community can better understand the profound changes occurring in the region. Next year, the EU will also commit €40 million to initiatives focused on cooperative scientific research on Arctic climate change and its global impacts.
Through a joint statement, ministers and other representatives from the Arctic States and several other nations reaffirmed their commitment to take urgent action to slow the pace of warming in the Arctic. Efforts to protect this unique region, and the planet, were recognized and all affirmed strong determination to work together and with others to achieve a successful, ambitious outcome at the international climate negotiations in December in Paris.
Climate Resilience and Adaptation Planning
Swedish Foreign Minister Wallström chaired a session focused on actions to build climate resilience and enhance adaptation planning nationally and sub-nationally. Given the impacts of Arctic change on the globe, the discussion focused on leadership and opportunities for cooperation to support communities in the Arctic as well as outside the region.
Strengthening Arctic Cooperation and Coordination
Finnish Foreign Minister Soini chaired a session introducing perspectives on areas of cooperation and coordination among Arctic States particularly relating to search and rescue, emergency response, and science cooperation and the innovative ways to finance infrastructure in these and other sectors. Future cooperation was emphasized in support of the well-being of circumpolar Arctic communities.
Climate Change Resilience
Climate change is threatening the existence of Arctic communities, contributing to a dramatic increase in coastal erosion and flooding in the American Arctic, building the resilience of these communities and addressing managed retreat or relocation needs are pressing and time-sensitive matters.
Strengthening Emergency Response
There is overwhelming recognition that the Arctic is one of the harshest environments on Earth to prepare for, and operate in, during emergency response to incidents. The 2011 Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic and the 2013 Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution, Preparedness and Response in the Arctic are important international coordination frameworks for preparedness and response within the region.
Air Quality Projects
To reduce critical emission sources of black carbon within the Arctic and beyond, there are desirable, feasible and affordable options. Discussants highlighted the importance of national policies, as well as continued support of clean energy and black carbon emission reductions.
Preventing Unregulated Fisheries
Different perspectives were shared on addressing the problem of unregulated commercial fishing in the Arctic following the signing of a non-binding declaration in July 2015. The discussion in this session helped to inform interested governments and stakeholders as they consider moving toward a larger international agreement to prevent such fishing from occurring in the high seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean.
Healthy Arctic Homes
Innovative housing technologies – suitable to the cultural and environmental context of the Arctic – are needed to address the interconnected goals of health promotion, climate resiliency, energy efficiency and renewable energy integration and affordability.
Strengthening Observation Networks
To greatly improve local, regional and global understanding and communication of ongoing changes in the Arctic, existing cooperation by many organizations would benefit from advanced and improved links among, and potentially the number of, observational nodes and monitoring networks.
Ways Forward/Next Steps
Secretary Kerry implored Arctic leaders to maintain a spirit of collaboration and cooperation that catalyzed today’s commitments and spurred follow-on action.
The U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic will forward this summary to the Arctic Council.
The Joint Statement on Climate Change and the Arctic may be found at www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/08/246487.htm.