Arctic nations agree to more scientific cooperation

Share
The Canadian Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent maneuvers into position to moor up with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy during a cooperative science mission to the Arctic Ocean between the U.S. and Canada, Sept. 25, 2008. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Anderson/U.S. Coast Guard)
The Canadian Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent maneuvers into position to moor up with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy during a cooperative science mission to the Arctic Ocean between the U.S. and Canada, Sept. 25, 2008. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Anderson/U.S. Coast Guard)
The future of scientific research in the Arctic got a big boost last week after representatives of all eight Arctic nations signalled their intention to sign a legally binding treaty on enhancing Arctic scientific cooperation following a meeting in Ottawa.

The meeting of Arctic Council’s Task Force for Enhancing Scientific Cooperation in the Arctic (SCTF) brought together 57 delegates representing all the Arctic states, as well as three out of six permanent participants (Aleut International Association, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Saami Council), one of the Arctic Council’s six Working Groups (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme), and 11 observer nations and organizations (China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, the United Kingdom, the EU, IASC, UArctic, and WWF).

Legally binding treaty

“The new agreement, which will be the third legally-binding agreement under the auspices of the Arctic Council, will help facilitate cooperation on science in the Arctic, and remove obstacles to that cooperation,” the task force’s U.S co-chair Evan Bloom said in a statement following the three-day meeting at the headquarters of Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa.

The agreement, reached after three years of negotiations, is expected to be formally signed into a legally binding treaty by foreign ministers of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia Sweden and the U.S. at the upcoming Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in spring 2017 in Fairbanks, Alaska.

“A mood of cooperation dominated at the meeting and all the participants undertook their best efforts to achieve mutually acceptable results,” Vladimir Barbin, the task force’s Russian co-chair, said in a statement.

Unique process

The SCTF was established at the Kiruna Ministerial meeting in May 2013 “to work towards an arrangement on improved scientific research cooperation” among Arctic nations.

It held its first meeting in December 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden, to discuss priorities for future international scientific cooperation in the Arctic and potential obstacles to such cooperation.

Throughout their nine meetings, task force participants examined various arrangements required to enhance cooperation in the area of Arctic science and then negotiating a legally-binding agreement.

“The uniqueness of the process of negotiating this document was that the permanent participants and the observers were given an opportunity to take part in preparing concrete provisions of this Pan-Arctic intergovernmental document,” Barbin said. “This shows once again that all Arctic countries are committed to enhancing international cooperation in the Arctic and welcome the contributions from the other interested parties.”

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: The Arctic Council’s capacity challenge, Blog by Heather Exner-Pirot

Iceland:  Iceland blasts Arctic Five for exclusion from fishing agreement, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Arctic Council aims to boost business, Barents Observer

Russia: Japan wants more Arctic cooperation with Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden:   Arctic Council – From looking out to looking in, Blog by Mia Bennett, Cryopolitics

United States:  Top Arctic official says cooperation key for Arctic Council under US leadership, Alaska Dispatch News

Share
Levon Sevunts

Levon Sevunts, Radio Canada International

Born and raised in Armenia, Levon started his journalistic career in 1990, covering wars and civil strife in the Caucasus and Central Asia. In 1992, after the government in Armenia shut down the TV program he was working for, Levon immigrated to Canada. He learned English and eventually went back to journalism, working first in print and then in broadcasting. Levon’s journalistic assignments have taken him from the High Arctic to Sahara and the killing fields of Darfur, from the streets of Montreal to the snow-capped mountaintops of Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. He says, “But best of all, I’ve been privileged to tell the stories of hundreds of people who’ve generously opened up their homes, refugee tents and their hearts to me.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *