The United States will soon take over as chair of the Arctic Council, an international group of northern countries that cooperate on common trade issues, sustainable development, and environmental protection.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada on Friday through Saturday for the 9th Ministerial Meeting of the council, where he will takeover the two-year rotating leadership role from Canada until 2017.
Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s minister for the Arctic Council will present achievements of the council under Canada’s chairmanship and member nations and indigenous permanent participant leaders will each give a statement.
Eight nations make up the council: Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. In addition, six international organizations representing Arctic Indigenous Peoples have permanent participant status.
Canada is expected to discuss accomplishments made during its chairmanship, including the establishment of the Arctic Economic Council to promote responsible economic development in the region, recommendations to use traditional and local knowledge more consistently by the council, and a report identifying best practices to support mental wellness across Arctic communities.
Canada will also discuss its progress on environmental issues including an eight-year action plan to implement recommendations of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, a work plan to improve the status of priority species of Arctic breeding birds along their migratory routes, updated scientific assessments on short-lived climate pollutions, a framework for action to reduce black carbon and methane emissions, and an action plan to prevent marine oil pollution in the Arctic.
Other topics of discussion among members could include new shipping and oil and gas exploration lanes that have opened in the Arctic due to climate change and melting ice caps. Cooperation with Russia may also be an issue, as western nations continue with sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine.
The meeting will be streamed live from 2:00-4:15 p.m. eastern Friday, with a press conference to follow from 4:45-5:15 p.m.
Story compiled with information from CCTV America and Reuters.