actic economic conA session of the Arctic Economic Council (AEC) took place on February 8 in St. Petersburg in the run-up to the ‘Arctic: Territory of Dialogue’ 4th International Arctic Forum. The session marks the first time an AEC delegation has met on Russian soil.

Participants in the session included government and business representatives from Russia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Canada and the US, as well as a number of bodies representing indigenous Arctic peoples: the Gwich’in Council International, the Aleut International Association, the Arctic Athabaskan Council, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, and the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East.

Among the individuals participating were Tara Sweeney, Executive Vice-President of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (US) and Chair of the AEC; Evgeny Ambrosov, Senior Executive Vice-President of Sovcomflot (Russia); Erling Kvadsheim, Director of the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association (Norway); Morten Glamsø, Senior Adviser at the Danish Shipowners’ Association (Denmark); Lillian Hvatum-Brewster, Vice-President of Northern Development at ATCO Group (Canada); Anders Oskal, Director of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR); and others.

In addition to organizational matters, the participants in the session addressed current issues on the Arctic agenda: creating uniform international standards for regulating business activity in the Arctic, issues related to public-private partnership, and developing Arctic infrastructure in the areas of marine transport and telecommunications.

The programme for visiting members of the AEC in St. Petersburg also included a meeting with St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko and a visit to the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.

“I’m grateful for Russia’s contribution to the work of the Arctic Economic Council, and to our discussion on how to make the Arctic an easy place for doing business. During the session in St. Petersburg, we discussed the results achieved by various AEC working groups, including a group for marine transport and infrastructure; this topic is a very important one for Russia. We also spoke about issues concerning telecommunications and introducing broadband to the Arctic; the relevant working group produced a report on creating essential infrastructure. Furthermore, we had a constructive discussion about standards for attracting investment in the Arctic, and came to the decision to thoroughly analyse these standards and to establish how they fit together with key issues of interest,” said AEC Chair and Executive Vice-President of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation Tara Sweeney.

“The St. Petersburg session was organized in the run-up to the ‘Arctic: Territory of Dialogue’ International Arctic Forum, which is set to take place in March in Arkhangelsk. It’s very important for us to show our AEC colleagues and partners that Russia sees the development of Arctic projects as a priority. Russia, and Sovcomflot in particular, have considerable expertise in implementing major industrial projects in the Arctic; we’ve amassed an enormous database of safety criteria for fleet operations in the difficult conditions that occur at high latitudes. One of the key challenges facing Sovcomflot is to implement the latest technology and maritime safety standards, to prevent the use of a substandard fleet in Arctic waters in the future, and to avoid accidents, particularly any affecting the Arctic’s sensitive environment,” said AEC Vice-Chair and Senior Executive Vice-President of Sovcomflot Evgeny Ambrosov (Russia).

The ‘Arctic: Territory of Dialogue’ 4th International Arctic Forum will take place in Arkhangelsk on March 29–30, 2017. The Forum programme offers over 40 events, including 32 themed sessions and discussions, two plenary sessions, and an extended session of the State Commission for Arctic Development. A number of events are also scheduled to take place on the sidelines of the Forum, including ‘The Arctic. Made in Russia’ International Youth Educational Forum, the Northern Cities Forum, and the Arctic Business Forum.

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