"The fact that all the Arctic countries attend and are willing to face each other before an audience says something about their will to keep the dialogue running despite new challenges in the north", says Arne O. Holm, Editor-in-Chief at High North News.
The Arctic is an attractive meeting place between the West and the East. At this year's High North Dialogue, nine Arctic ambassadors are attending. All the Arctic states are represented, as well as the EU.
The conference is held in Bodø, Northern Norway. However, due to the pandemic, most of the conference is digital.
All the ambassadors and coordinators are attending a panel discussion, moderated by Arne O. Holm, Editor-in-Chief at High North News.
"Being able to gather all the Arctic ambassadors for a summit, as we do during High North Dialogue, is rather unique. I look forward to this debate and believe it will be exciting to challenge the participants both on security politics and climate issues", says Holm.
Mikael Antell, Finnish Ambassador to Norway, says to High North News that he is pleased that this year's conference focuses on future leaders.
"The theme of our panel, covering both climate change and security policy in the Arctic, is very topical. The importance of the Arctic region has grown as a result of climate change, the increasing level of economic activity, the opening up of new transport connections, and the region's growing geopolitical significance, Antell says, and continues:
"From the Finnish standpoint, we must base all activities in the Arctic on the carrying capacity of the natural environment, the need to protect the climate, sustainable development principles, and respect for the rights of indigenous populations. Finland promotes the stability of the Arctic region and works to help keep the Arctic region free from military tensions. I believe that the future of the Arctic is of vital importance not only for the Arctic countries but also from a global perspective, especially what comes to the impact of climate change. It is of importance that future leaders understand and know the Arctic. I very much look forward to the discussion at the High North Dialogue", Antell says in closing.
Finland is finalizing a new Arctic policy strategy that its government plans on publishing in May.
Ingibjörg Davíðsdóttir, Icelandic Ambassador to Norway, says that Iceland is committed to sustainable development and close cooperation within and outside the Arctic region.
"It is important that the Arctic continues to be a region of peace and stability. It offers an example of how large and small nations can cooperate on common regional issues. Not least within the Arctic Council, which focuses on scientific knowledge-building and high-quality policy recommendations. It is obvious by now what profound effects climate change has on the Arctic. Iceland’s Government is strongly committed to the Paris Agreement and I think it is important to discuss how we can utilize science-based policies in combatting climate change, and how we can support Arctic communities in the current and upcoming challenges presented by the warming Arctic", Davíðsdóttir says.
Michael Mann, the EU's Ambassador at Large for the Arctic, says that the starting point for any discussion on any aspect of the Arctic is the need for the international community to redouble its efforts to fight climate change.
"It is a great honor to be asked to take part in a panel with so many eminent speakers. Clearly, there is also a major focus on security issues at the moment. It’s vital that we work together to ensure that the Arctic remains a zone of peaceful international cooperation, where the rule of law is fully respected. As the event is aimed at future leaders, it is also very important that we reflect the views and interests of young people", says Mann.
State Secretary Audun Halvorsen (Conservatives) says that both the ramifications of climate change and the security policy situation in the Arctic affect the young.
"Throughout our Arctic policy, the people in the north remain our main priority, and the younger generations play a key role in outlining how we best can make their communities attractive, prosperous, sustainable, and resilient. The High North Dialogue is a great example of how to involve youth as part of the high-level dialogue on the Arctic", Halvorsen says.
The Ambassadors’ Panel is held on Thursday, April 22 at 13:45.
The full list of ambassadors attending the Ambassadors’ Panel includes:
- Audun Halvorsen, State Secretary, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Michael Mann, Ambassador at Large for the Arctic, European Union
- Mikael Antell, Finnish Ambassador to Norway
- Teimuraz O. Ramishvili, Russian Ambassador to Norway
- Cecilia Björner, Swedish Ambassador to Norway
- Jim DeHart, U.S. Coordinator for the Arctic Region
- Patrick Parisot, Canadian Ambassador to Norway
- Ingibjörg Davíðsdóttir, Icelandic Ambassador to Norway
- Jarl Frijs-Madsen, Danish Ambassador to Norway
Moderator: Arne O. Holm, Editor in Chief, High North News