This week, we at High North News were to attend the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø, Norway along with other media, state leaders, researchers, and organizations in the Arctic. That was not to happen. Instead, we have followed the conference closely from our home-based office places.
The conference was no less interesting for that; it rather became a window to a world we no longer have access to. The view was sadly, at times, anything but pretty.
What we already know, is that when society shut down almost a year ago, the weakest among us were by and large left to their own device. We now know more about how that went.
And that is not good news.
In Alaska figures from the Office of Children’s Services have dropped dramatically during the months of social distancing.
During one of the debates at the conference, we learned that the consequences of Covid-19 in the Arctic are deteriorating challenges such as vast distances and access to health services. And most heart-wrecking of it all; we see an increase in suicide amongst young Indigenous people.
Through the screen we could also participate in the Arctic Council’s 25th anniversary, which is the topic of Editor-in-Chief Arne O. Holm this week:
“If, as a citizen in the Arctic, you were to feel lost and alone these days, there may be comfort in thinking about how you are an important part of one of the world’s most exciting international cooperation stories. When Russia assumes the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in May, it does so with a promise to bring cooperation closer to the people.”
Digital threats and news from Russia
On Monday, the Norwegian Military Intelligence Services, the Police Secret Service (PST), and the National Security Authority present the open sections of their annual threat and risk assessment.
Section Chief Hanne Blomberg of the PST says that some are naïve when it comes to digital threat perceptions.
We have of course covered news from our northern neighbor Russia, and one case that has received widespread attention is the fact that two Russian vessels apparently have collected new data about the seabed in the Polar Ocean – far away from existing Russian claims.
At an Arctic Frontiers press meeting, Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide refused to answer directly when asked whether Russia should be invited back into Arctic security forums.
What is certain, is the fact that Russia is not much pleased with the news that American bomber planes are to operate out from Norway (Norwegian only).
Nor does Russia appear pleased with the Arctic Frontiers conference.
Arctic village joins the climate struggle
There is almost a blessed silence from the White House these days, and when news do appear, they are mostly good. For instance, the one about the USA being back onboard with the Paris Agreement again. Researchers argue that that is a good thing, as the USA and China – together accounting for some 40 percent of global emissions – now are back together around the table of international climate politics.
Whether or not that will make any difference, remains to be seen. But not everybody is willing to wait.
Here is a campaign video you really should see! In order to increase awareness about the consequences of global warming, a small town in Finnish Lapland has launched its bid to host the 2032 summer Olympics.
Where some struggle, others thrive.
Six major investment projects are planned for the Russian Arctic. And despite the pandemic, a small Swedish mining company delivered a strong result for 2020 (Norwegian only).
We at High North News wish you all the best for this February weekend!
News Editor, High North News