Tromsø: “It is important that business and industry operating in the north understand Arctic values.”
Such were the opening words of Tara Sweeney, of the Arctic Economic Council (AEC) Secretariat, in Tromsø today. “AEC represents a new way to do business in the north,” she added.
With music from Frozen and in the presence of a minister of foreign affairs, ambassadors from a host of countries, international heads of business, mayors and chancellors, the Arctic Economic Council finally opened its secretariat in Tromsø. Under the leadership of the USA, Arctic Council work to establish a permanent AEC secretariat has accelerated.
Les saken på norsk: – Næringslivet må forstå de arktiske verdiene
Cooperation is decisive
The AEC was founded by the Arctic Council during Canada’s leadership term and comprises members from business and industry in the eight Arctic countries.
“The world looks not only south and east, but also increasingly to the Arctic,” said the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende, in his opening speech during today’s arrangement.
Brende emphasized the importance of the high north for Norway, but also its significance in the context of cooperation between the Arctic countries.
“If we are going to make the high north our most innovative region, we are dependent upon cooperation with others,” says Brende.
In the course of the last few weeks, Brende has established the government’s own “high north committee”, Team Arctic, attended Obama’s Glacier Conference in Alaska, visited Longyearbyen with his Dutch counterpart, Bert Koenders, and opened the Arctic Economic Council secretariat in Tromsø.
“I meet with many of you who are present today more often than I see my own family,” Børge Brende said by way of summation.
“Ten percent of Norway’s population lives in the north, a region that is at the spearhead of innovation. I hope this will inspire other countries in the Arctic.”
Knowledge about indigenous populations
In addition to being Chairman of the AEC, Tara Sweeney is also Vice President of Arctic Slope, an Inuit organization that constitutes one of the biggest landowners in Alaska.
According to Sweeney, the AEC aims to contribute to value creation in Arctic countries by giving a voice to small-scale business.
“We also bring knowledge about indigenous rights to industry operators in these regions. Not least, it is important to cooperate with educational institutions in order to develop sustainable industry in the north and to ensure positive cooperation between industry players in this region.”
The north must participate in development
Parliamentary representative Eirik Sivertsen, who also leads the Norwegian Parliament’s Arctic delegation, highlighted what he characterizes as a third stage of development in the Arctic.
“Right now it’s about development of business and industry in the Arctic. We need to ensure that the population of the north participates in this development, and that we establish sustainable infrastructure in the entire Arctic,” says Eirik Sivertsen.