The inter-governmental Arctic Council recently wrapped up its meeting in Sweden. It agreed to consider 14 nations/organizations as applicants to be observers, in addition to the 6 non-arctic observer states and 11 observer organizations and 8 official member arctic states.
During the Kiruna Ministerial Meeting 15 May Arctic Ministers signed the Kiruna Declaration, Vision for the Arctic, Senior Arctic Officials Report to Ministers, and an Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic. In addition, several scientific assessments and reports by the working groups, task forces, and expert groups of the Arctic Council were also approved.
Sweden passes the chairmanship torch to Canada. During the Canadian Chairmanship under Minister Leona Aglukkaq (2013-15), the Arctic Council program will include the establishment of a Circumpolar Business Forum to provide new opportunities for business to engage with the Council; continued work on oil pollution prevention; and action to address short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon and methane.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates from 2008 suggest that 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of undiscovered natural gas reserves are located in the Arctic Circle.
The observer states and organizations include:
People’s Republic of China
State of Japan
Republic of Korea
Republic of Singapore
Republic of India
Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP)
International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO)
World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS)
Congratulations to Canada and Minister Leona Aglukkaq for taking the reins of this important organization. The resource rich arctic is attracting a wider interest from the powerhouse Asian nations and their governments.