Russia's Prime minister Dmitrij Medvedev (L) and Norway's Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg attend a rescue exercise at the research vessel Helmer Hanssen during the Barents Euroarctic council meeting in Kirkenes, Norway on June 4, 2013.

Russia's Prime minister Dmitrij Medvedev (L) and Norway's Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg attend a rescue exercise during the Barents Euro-Arctic council meeting in Kirkenes, Norway on June 4, 2013. Could the Council be a model for developing the Beaufort region in the North American Arctic?
Photo Credit: AFP / Cornelius Poppe

Eye on the Arctic: Is Barents plan a model for Canada-U.S. cooperation in the North?

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Each week, Eye on the Arctic features stories and newsmakers from across the North

A four-day conference on Arctic ports wound up on Thursday in Narvik, Norway.

The international conference was organized by the Port of Narvik, Ocean Futures, a research institute that focuses on the world’s oceans and polar regions, and the Maritime Forum North, to discuss issues around trade, shipping and industrial development in the Barents region of the European Arctic.

Transport Ministers from the four Barents countries: Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway, held a meeting in connection with the conference and released the Joint Barents Transport Plan.

The plan covers everything from railway and roads to ports and air travel. Experts say this comprehensive regional planning will allow the Barents countries to take advantage of increased economic activity in the European Arctic.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, walks on the shore of the Beaufort Sea in 2010 with then .
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, walks on the shore of the Beaufort Sea in 2010. © CP/Sean Kilpatrick
Alaska and Canada’s northern territories

The Beaufort region in Canada’s western Arctic has harsher ice conditions and is less developed in terms of infrastructure compared to the Barents region, but some experts say the Transport Plan could provide a model for the Beaufort region of the North American Arctic.

“I think there’s a great variety of important transport and economic development proposals that will only get the high level attention they need in Washington and Ottawa if this area is looked at as a single economic region of great benefit to everyone,” says John Higginbotham, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, an independent Canadian think tank, and a Senior Distinguished Fellow and Canada’s Carleton University located in Ottawa.

“I know that at a regional level among Alaskans, Yukon government and the Northwest Territories government there’s a real will to cooperate and to look at  issues on a regional basis but I’m not sure yet that we have the buy-in from Washington and Ottawa to take that approach.”

To find out more, Eye on the Arctic’s Eilís Quinn spoke to John Higginbotham, earlier this week.

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Barents Joint Transport Plan

Norwegian conference looks at development in Barents Region, Eye on the Arctic

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