The Arctic Circle 2014 in Reykjavik, Iceland, is just a few days away. Leaders from several countries will be speaking during the opening on Friday. Amongst them are Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the presidents of Iceland and Finland.
Last years conference gathered more than 1.200 people from 40 different countries, and amongst the many prominent speakers were Ban Ki-Moon (Secretary-General of the United Nations) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (former Secretary of State, United States).
This year 900 participants from 34 countries has registered for the Assembly.
Arctic Circle Forums around the world
The Arctic Circle was founded last year, on the initiative of the President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former Prime Minister of Greenland Kuupik Kleist, and Alaska Dispatch Publisher Alice Rogoff. The first Assembly of the Arctic Circle was held last autumn in Reykjavik, and became the largest international gathering in the Arctic.
From now on, the Assemblies will be held every October in Iceland. In addition, special Arctic Circle Forums will be held in other countries, three of which are already being planned for next year, in the United States, Greenland and Singapore.
Leaders from several countries in the Arctic, in Europe, and Asia will attend as the Assembly starts on friday, including ministers, members of parliament, government officials as well of hundreds of scientists, specialists, and leaders in business and environmental affairs.
International focus on the future
The conference is designed to increase participation in Arctic dialogue and strengthen the international focus on the future of the Arctic.
There will be several opening sessions, and José Ángel Gurría (Secretary General of OECD), Lisa Murkowski (United States Senator), Admiral Robert J. Papp, (U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic and former Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard) are amongst the ones that will contribute.
About a week ago it seemed like Yevgeny Lukyanov (Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation) also would be speaking, but he is no longer listed in the program. Instead the many participants will be given the chance to listen to Vincent Rigby (Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials and Assistant Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Canada.)
Yesterday it was announced that the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands, Kaj Leo Johannesen, also will be attending with a delegation, and speak in the session on energy, oil and wind.
The Arctic in 2035
Delegations from the governments of Japan, France, the United Kingdom, and Finland will present their policies on the Arctic, as well as plans for the scientific research and business activities.
The research firm Polarisk will present its report, "The Arctic in 2035", a projection of the next twenty years of Arctic business development, with a special focus on resource extraction.
Representatives of the American companies Google and Planet Labs will speak on the potential contributions of IT and new satellite systems to the knowledge of nature in the Arctic. The world-renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle will be among the speakers in a discussion on the evolution of human activity in the Arctic Ocean.
In addition to the plenary sessions at the Arctic Circle Assembly, there will be more than 50 breakout sessions organized by universities, research institutions, environmental organizations, various companies, governments, and other parties interested in the Arctic.
Climate, security and infrastructure
The Arctic Circle is nonprofit and nonpartisan, and the issues on the agenda this year ranges from treaties and agreements in polar law, melting seaice and extreme weather, security in the Arctic, shipping and transportation infrastructure, and the role and rights of indigenous peoples.
The prospects and risks of oil and gas drilling, business cooperation in the Arctic and the role of Asian and European countries in the high north, are also among the issues.
High Norh News is attending the Arctic Circle 2014, and will be reporting from the Assembly both on friday and during the coming week.