Pollution, education and climate change resilience top agenda of Arctic Council meeting in Finland

The flags of the eight Arctic Council Member States and six indigenous Permanent Participant organizations at the the first SAO meeting during the US 2015-2017 Chairmanship held in Anchorage, Alaska 20-22 October. ( Linnea Nordström/Arctic Council Secretariat)
Senior government representatives from the eight Arctic states will gather in northwestern Finland next week for the first meeting of Senior Arctic Officials to be held during Helsinki’s two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Representatives of the six Indigenous Permanent Participant organizations, six working groups and over 30 observer states and organizations of the Arctic Council will also take part in the meeting in Oulu, which will discuss a broad range of subjects, including pollution prevention, education, and climate change resilience.

The participants of the meeting will also discuss the recently signed agreement on scientific cooperation in the Arctic and the upcoming COP23 United Nations climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, Arctic Council officials said in a statement.

“During our Chairmanship, we want to explore common solutions to common challenges in the Arctic,” SAO Chair Aleksi Härkönen said in a statement. “In this first plenary meeting we will hear about the Arctic Council’s and the Observers’ work to prevent environmental pollution and to improve educational opportunities in the Arctic and get a briefing on the activities of the Arctic Economic Council.”

Finland took over the rotating two-year Arctic Council chairmanship from the U.S. in May.

Helsinki’s priorities include environmental protection, connectivity, meteorological cooperation and education.

Finland also emphasized the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the UN sustainable development goals.

The Heads of Delegation for the six Indigenous Permanent Participant organizations at the Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting in Juneau on March 9, 2017.
(Linnea Nordström/Arctic Council Secretariat)

Established in 1996, the Arctic Council is made up of the eight Arctic States – Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States.

In addition, six organizations representing Arctic Indigenous peoples have status as Permanent Participants.

They are the Aleut International Association, the Arctic Athabaskan Council, the Gwich’In Council International, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, RAIPON (the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North), and the Saami Council.

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.”

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