OTTAWA, CANADA: - There are many who would like to join the Arctic, but we are the Arctic, Tara Sweeney said to High North News minutes after she late Thursday night - Norwegian time - was chosen as the Chair of the Executive Committee in the Arctic Economic Council (AEC ).
Saturday Sweeney and the rest of the board will meet with the participants at the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Iqaluit. Here, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will confirm that the Arctic Council during the U.S leadership actively will seek advice from the AEC.
The last thing was far from obvious. The statement, which is now officially part of the Americans two-year program for the Arctic Council, was added just hours before the Ministerial Meeting starts in Iqaluit today.
- We will roll up our sleeves
The business people – from all Arctic countries – that last night gathered in the bar at the legendary Fairmount Hotel in Ottawa, were obviously excited. During the day they had completed a groundbreaking meeting in the Arctic Economic Council.
AES’s management is in place, the board has received it’s blessings from the U.S, and during next month the international secretariat will be located in Tromsø, Norway.
Tara Sweeney is the one who will lead the organization. She is also the Vice president of the interest organization Arctic Slope. The organization, run and owned by Inuit people, owns large areas of land in Alaska, amongst others.
- Arctic Econmic Council shall be an organization that actively works to create business opportunities in the Arctic. The strategic strength of the AEC is in the members, who all have their starting point precisely in the circumpolar north. Our challenge now is to define which barriers that stand in the way of developing economic activity in the north, and then work to remove these, says Sweeney.
- We will roll up our sleeves, and do the work together - across borders, she adds.
Efforts led from Norway
Tero Vauraste (Director and President of the Finnish Arctic Shipping ), Tom Paddon (Director and President of Canadian Baffinland Iron Mines) and Evgeniy Ambrasov (Vice President of Sovcomflot, Russia’s largest shipping company) are also members of the exclusive board.
The efforts to ensure AEC a fixed structure has been led by Norway, and Erling Kvadsheim, Director of the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, has played an important role.
- It was Canada, that under the country’s leadership of the Arctic Council, decided to establish the AEC. The organization was established in September last year. The Norwegian Oil and Gas Association has, on the initiative of Foreign Affairs in Norway, led the work, Erling Kvadsheim explains.
It is the political development in the Arctic Council that has made it possible to organize the business community in this way. The cooperation in the AEC is project-oriented, and these days the organization is working with everything from shipping, mineral resources and the indigenous peoples role in the industrial development of the north.
Translated by Hege Eilertsen