During its 9th meeting on 6-8 July 2016, the Arctic Council’s Task Force for Enhancing Scientific Cooperation in the Arctic (SCTF) reached a legally binding agreement on enhancing scientific cooperation.
Convened in Ottawa at the headquarters of Global Affairs Canada, the meeting brought together 57 delegates from all eight Arctic States, three of six Permanent Participants (AIA, Inuit Cicumpolar Council and the Saami Council), one of the Arctic Council’s six Working Groups (AMAP), as well as representatives from eleven observer states and organisations (China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, the United Kingdom, the EU, IASC, the University of the Arctic, and WWF).
Members of the Task Force come to a new legally binding agreement after three years of work. Established at the May 2013 Arctic Council Ministerial in Kiruna, Sweden, and co-chaired by the United States and the Russian Federation, the first meeting of the task force took place in December 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. During task force meetings members outlined priorities for future international scientific cooperation in Arctic reearch and recognised potential obstacles to cooperation.
Co-Chair Evan Bloom of the United States stated that “the new agreement, which will be the third legally-binding agreement under the auspices of the Arctic Council, will help facilitate cooperation on science in the Arctic, and remove obstacles to that cooperation”.
Co-Chair Vladimir Barbin of the Russian Federation commented that "the uniqueness of the process of negotiating this document was that the Permanent Participants and the Observers were given an opportunity to take part in preparing concrete provisions of this Pan-Arctic intergovernmental document. This shows once again that all Arctic countries are committed to enhancing international cooperation in the Arctic and welcome the contributions from the other interested parties”.
The agreement will be formally signed by foreign ministers of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United Sates at the next Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting scheduled to take place in spring 2017 in Fairbanks, Alaska. One this signing takes place, the agreement will become a legally binding treaty.