In the context of rapidly growing interest in the Arctic, a wide range of actors, from non-Arctic states to NGOs, have been forced to re-think the future of the Arctic and their own relations to this remote region. The European Union has also started a process of legitimising itself as an Arctic actor and laying the groundwork for its own Arctic policy. For Sweden, Denmark and Finland, the Arctic represents an area of both domestic and foreign policy, but the EU tends to emphasise more strongly on the foreign policy aspects in its Arctic communications, whilst also using domestic policies to legitimise its Arctic engagement.
In its two years as Chair of the Arctic Council, Sweden has contributed to strengthening cooperation within the Arctic Council. The U.S. delegation also took an active stance in the meeting and promoted increased work in the different Arctic Council working groups. The end result was the historical signing of the Search and Rescue agreement by the eight Arctic Council member states, and further commitments to increase cooperation in the region.
As U.S.A. assumes Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015, Former U.S. Ambassador in Sweden Mark Brzezinski, who is very well known in Sweden, is appointed as Executive Director of the U.S. Government’s Arctic Executive Steering Committee. Since beginning as Ambassador Brzesinski, and Mrs. Brzezinki has advanced the relationship between U.S. and Sweden and the value that America and Sweden share, including on climate change and the the future of the Arctic. During his tenure in Stockholm, which included the period of Sweden’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council, Ambassador Brzezinski worked closely with the Swedish government on a wide range of Arctic issues.
Under his leadership, the U.S. Embassy developed new partnerships with governments and diplomats, businesses, and the environmental and NGO communities, with emphasis on the link between what is happening in the Arctic and what is happening in the rest of the world. OurSharedArctic is one good example, of how the private sector might be better integrated and how to connect industry with opportunity.
Other governments, too, do acknowledge that bringing the private sector into the discussion does add value, if they’re given a meaningful mechanism to talk with the Arctic Council and work with the Council. And what they’ve already been doing in the Arctic can have a meaningful impact in shaping the policies that the Arctic Council, or individual Arctic countries produce.
Naturally, Ambassador Brzezinski’s appointment as Executive Director of the AESC underscores the importance that President Obama attaches to coordination of U.S. efforts in the Arctic.
As the President said when introducing the National Strategy for the Arctic Region in May 2013, “We will seek to prioritize and effectively integrate the work of Federal departments and agencies with activities that are already underway in the State of Alaska and at the international level. And we will partner with the State of Alaska and Alaska Natives, as well as the international community and the private sector, to develop innovative solutions and new ways of operating.”
Arctic countries and those with interests in the region have to work together on the basis of international law, through broad networks, and via cross-cutting collaboration to safeguard the future of the Arctic and protect the human, economic, and environmental interests that exist there.
To further confirm the U.S. commitment Secretary of State Kerry has stated, that “Every nation that cares about the future of the Arctic has to be a leader in taking and urging others to move forward with bold initiatives and immediate, ambitious steps to curb the impact of greenhouse gases.
GLACIER reinforces the United States’ deep commitment to the Arctic. The Obama Administration has demonstrated this commitment through its Arctic strategy, Arctic Strategy Implementation Plan, and the January 2015 Executive Order that President Obama signed on enhancing the coordination of national efforts in the Arctic. President Barack Obama will also travel to Alaska to join this important dialogue in Anchorage on August 30-31, 2015. Sweden will be represented by Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.
GLACIER provide an unprecedented opportunity for world leaders and stakeholders to broaden global awareness and engage on ways the international community can address the effects of Arctic climate change.
Political commitment and leadership are generally considered very important for the establishment and development of Arctic policy and integration in the Arctic business development. This is exactly what the global Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement, & Resilience, or just GLACIER, is all about — bringing global leadership together to focus on the Arctic to generate momentum and expedite progress in addressing some of the most pressing issues facing the region, including the transition away from fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources like wind and solar, an effort in which America is already leading.
The issued Plan for the U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic Region, provide more detail on how to achieve the strategy’s major objectives. The Implementation Plan identifies two related areas to advance U.S. policy in the region regarding hydrocarbon development: promote Arctic oil pollution preparedness, prevention, and response internationally, and work through the Arctic Council to advance U.S. interests in the Arctic Region. With regard to the latter, the plan specifically calls for developing “a robust agenda for the U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015.
The White House also announced on Sunday government support for programs to allow Alaska Natives to be more involved in developing their own natural resources, including an initiative to include them in the management of Chinook salmon fisheries, a youth exchange council focusing on promoting “an Arctic way of life,” and a program allowing them to serve as advisers to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. President Obama has stepped up his engagement with Native Americans since June last year, when he visited Cannon Ball, N.D., in the ancestral lands of Chief Sitting Bull and took part in a powwow to honor American Indians who have served in America’s foreign wars.