Thursday, 20 May 2021, Reykjavík, Republic of Iceland: At the 12th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland and online, Ministers of the eight Arctic States and leaders from the six Indigenous Permanent Participant organisations convened and marked the passing of the two-year Chairmanship from Iceland to the Russian Federation for the next two years (2021-2023).
The eight Foreign Ministers signed the Reykjavik Declaration, reaffirming the Council’s commitment to maintain peace, stability and constructive cooperation in the Arctic region, emphasizing Arctic States’ unique position to promote responsible governance in the region, and asserting the importance of immediately addressing climate change in the Arctic. In recognition of the Council’s 25th anniversary, the Ministers adopted Council’s first ever Strategic Plan that reflects the shared values, goals and joint aspirations of the Arctic States and Indigenous Permanent Participants. It will guide the Council’s work for the next decade.
During its Chairmanship, Iceland emphasized work on the Arctic marine environment, climate and green energy solutions, people and communities in the Arctic, and strengthening the Arctic Council. The accomplishments of the Council during the Icelandic Chairmanship include deliverables that strengthen the knowledgebase on Arctic shipping and enhance emergency response in Arctic waters, assess climate impacts on Arctic ecosystems, reduce pollution, promote the wellbeing of Arctic inhabitants, and much more.
The incoming Chairmanship of the Russian Federation will continue to support many ongoing activities of the Council’s Working Groups and other subsidiary bodies, while introducing a number of new projects and initiatives. Sustainable development will be the main overarching priority of the Russian Chairmanship, with the human dimension, the environment and sustainable economic growth as key areas.
The Foreign Ministers of all eight Arctic States were in attendance in Reykjavik, and were joined by leaders of the six Permanent Participant organizations both in person and online. Representatives of the Council’s six Working Groups and Observers were invited to attend the meeting virtually. The meeting was the first to be held in-person under the auspices of the Arctic Council since the Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to such gatherings in early 2020.
The first executive meeting of Senior Arctic Officials during the Russian Chairmanship will take place in June in Moscow as well as online.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Arctic Council in Ottawa, capital of the Dominion of Canada. In preparations to the Ministerial, Canadian Ambassador in the Kingdom of Denmark, Denis Robert, held intensive talks to Danish officials including State Secretary for Foreign Policy Jesper Møller Sørensen, or a bilateral tête-à-tête with Greenland’s Minister of Trade, Industry, Foreign Affairs and Climate, Pele Broberg who was in Copenhagen previous to the trip to Iceland.
For further information:
Arctic Council: https://arctic-council.org/en/news/arctic-council-foreign-ministers-sign-the-reykjavik-declaration-adopt-councils-first-strategic-plan/
Global Affairs Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2021/05/minister-of-foreign-affairs-concludes-successful-participation-in-arctic-council-ministerial-meeting-in-iceland.html
Reykjavík Declaration: https://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/arctic-arctique/reykjavik-declaration-2021.aspx?lang=eng
On the picture from left to right: Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Marc Garneau (who also represented Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) on behalf of Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs; Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde; Faroese Premier Bárður á Steig Nielsen; Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod; Greenland’s Minister of Trade, Industry, Foreign Affairs and Climate, Pele Broberg; Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov; Finnish Foreign Minister, Pekka Haavisto; Icelandic Foreign Minister, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson; Norwegian Foreign Minister, Ine Eriksen Søreide; U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken