Arctic Council 2017 – How to watch & who to follow

Fairbanks, Alaska where the Arctic Council’s rotating chairmanship moves from the United States to Finland this week. (iStock)
The United States turns over the two-year rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council to Finland this week in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Over the next five days, foreign ministers, diplomats, indigenous leaders, and northern experts from pretty much every domain you can imagine, will descend on this small city of 32,000 people, turning it into an international Arctic hub.

What to watch for

Addressing climate change impacts was one of the top three U.S. priorities when they took over leadership of the international forum from Canada in 2015.

But the drastic shift in environmental policy between the Obama and the Trump administrations has many longtime Arctic watchers wondering just how Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Exxon Mobil CEO, will navigate his first Arctic Council ministerial representing the U.S.

As for incoming chair Finland?

Expectations are high for the country as the chairmanship heads back to Europe after four years of North American leadership (Canada 2013-2015, United States 2015-2017), though the dial-down on business and development issues has disappointed some.

So that’s just some of what the U.S. and Finland have on their plates.

And we haven’t even gotten to Russia and the other five other Arctic countries yet.

Who to follow

Eye on the Arctic is travelling to Alaska today and will bring you detailed coverage from Fairbanks all week along with the Eye on the Arctic media partners:

Alaska Dispatch News

Alaska Public Media
with journalists:
Rachel Waldholz @waldholz
Tim Ellis @ltellis1

Yle News, Finland
with journalist:
Pirkko Pöntinen @PirkkoPon

Blogger Heather Exner-Pirot

And covering from around the globe:

The Independent Barents Observer

Radio Sweden

Cryopolitics blogger

Deutsche Welle’s Iceblogger Irene Quaile

You can also use #ArcticCouncil to follow the shenanigans.

And if I’m not in Fairbanks?

The big handover takes place on May 11th and will be livestreamed on the Arctic Council website. Follow @ArcticCouncil for details.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

The Arctic Council chairmanship moves from the United States to Finland on May 11, 2017 in Fairbanks, Alaska. Eye on the Arctic’s Eilís Quinn along with EOTA media partners and contributors will be bringing you stories, interviews and analysis leading up to the handover.
Read our full coverage here!

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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