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26 January 2011

MunkThe Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs in cooperation with the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation released on tuesday public opinion research report on global perceptions of Arctic security titled: Rethinking the Top of the World: Arctic Security Public Opinion Survey.

The research concentrated on finding out how publics from the eight member states of the Arctic Council understand and frame Arctic issues and how they comprehend the issue of Arctic security. The research found out that the concept of Arctic security is no longer understood in terms of traditional definition of security, namely guarding against international threats, but is rather comprehended in terms of environmental protection and healthy, educated population.

To download the report, please click HERE

24 January 2011

EU_Arctic_Policy

The European Parliament newly adopted a Report on Sustainable EU Policy for the High North - The Gahler report. The report is the Parliaments response to the accelerating activities in the Arctic and demonstrates the European Unions increased interest in the region.

The Report emphasizes the European Unions role in the Arctic through its Arctic member states; Denmark, Sweden and Finland, but also recognizes the ongoing work in several other partnerships through the EU Northern Dimension, a common policy of the EU with Russia, Norway and Iceland, all of which are Arctic Council member states. It is especially interesting that the Report notices the Iceland's status as a candidate country for accession to the EU and underlines the need for a coordinated Arctic policy at EU level for that reason. The report represents Iceland as a strategic opportunity for the EU to assume a more active role and contribute to multilateral governance in the Arctic region; considering that Iceland' s accession to the EU would further consolidate the EU's presence in the Arctic Council.

The Report further recognizes the importance of new world transport routes through the Arctic Ocean, underlining the development of safety and security framework for the Arctic shipping and freedom of the seas and the right to free passage through international waterways for the EU and its Member States. Natural resources, Climate change and pollution, Sustainable socioeconomic development and institutional developments are also among the subjects of the Report, it acknowledging the importance of the establishment of an EU Arctic Information Centre as a forum of organizing permanent EU outreach to the major actors relevant to the Arctic and of channeling Arctic information and services towards the EU's Institutions and stakeholders.

To read the original Report, please go to the relevant section at the homepage of the European Parliament.

For further information on Arctic matters in the European Union, please see the The EU-ARCTIC-Forum January 2011 Newsletter. The EU-ARCTIC-Forum is the European Parliament's platform on issues concerning the Arctic providing exchange and input of information for the often fragmented discourse on the Arctic matters within the European context. 

21 January 2011

amap_logoThe Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Working Group (AMAP) have released a handout showing key scientific findings from their 2011 Mercury Assessment report. The hand-out describes why mercury is a concern in the region and key scientific findings from the 2011 Mercury Assessment report are listed, showcasing the Arctic region as a major area of impact.

The hand-out describes why mercury is a concern in the region, how and why mercury continues to present risks to the health of Arctic peoples and wildlife; where mercury in the Arctic environment comes from, how it gets there, and what controls mercury levels in the Arctic. A particular concern is the fact that—despite reductions in emissions from human activities—in large areas of the Arctic, mercury levels continue to rise in some Arctic wildlife.

Based on the results of the AMAP Mercury Assessment, the Arctic Council confirms the need for urgent global action to reduce mercury levels in the Arctic and in the rest of the world.

Further information in the Feature of the week

AMAP

Arctic Council Webpage

10 January 2011

Air Greenland jet

Air Greenland has announces a lockout of its pilots and cabin crew due to a collapse in the negotiations of the wage dispute. This means that all Air Greenland's flights are cancelled for the rest of the week. This is a huge set off in the country's transportation system, where little or none on land transportation infrastructure exists, leaving many villages isolated. Greenland has population of roughly 56.000 people in a land area that is over 2 million square kilometers (about 840.000 square miles), giving it the status of one of the most sparsely populated country in the world.

Air Greenland website

7 January 2011

Air Greenland jet

According to an announcement from Air Greenland a strike is in the air on Sunday, 9th of January due to wage dispute of pilots of the company. Negotiations of the two parties have stranded which may affect over 1000 passengers that have scheduled flight with Air Greenland. The director of Air Greenland has announced that wage increase is not an option since the company cannot endure any wage increase due to increasing competition in the market. Last year, revenue of the company reduced which is one of the reasons that the company cannot meet the demands of the Air Greenland pilots. Air Greenland is owned by the Greenlandic Home Rule, Scandinavian Airlines and the Danish state. The company owns 37 aircrafts, thereof 26 helicopters. Michael Binzer, director of Air Greenland states that the air company has made plans to take care of all emergency flights that might be affected due to the strike. A mediator has been brought into the negotiations, which have been paused and will be brought up again. It is hoped by the Air Greenland officials that the strike will not be enforced

5 January 2011

Icelandic whaling boats

A website has been launched where tourists are encouraged to boycott Iceland as their vacation destination due to the country's whaling policy. Iceland is among other nations, such as Canada, Norway, Japan and the United States that carry out whaling. The website "rescuethewhales.org" maintains that Iceland is whaling endangered species. The misunderstanding might arrive from the hunt of fin whales in Icelandic and adjacent waters. According to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) fin whales are endangered in the Southern Hemisphere but not in the North Atlantic Ocean. Assessments of the population status in the central North Atlantic and off West Greenland have shown populations to be in a healthy state.

The aim of the group behind the website, rescuethewhales.org is to damage Icelandic economy by appealing to the public not to visit the country and therefore try to undermine its tourism. It is stated in the website that Iceland is a small country where the economy is small and dependent on few large industries, such as tourism. Icelandic economy is similar to other small economies within the Arctic region, being dependent on natural resources and increasingly on tourism. Actions based in many occasions on emotions, as mentioned at the website, rescuethewhales.org could therefore have severe consequences to economies such as Iceland.

Further information and resources in the Feature of the week "Anti whaling campaign against Iceland"

3 January 2011

Inuit sailing in arctic waters

Climate change is altering people’s diet, according to Professor Barry Smit at the University Of Guelph, Canada. Professor Smit has conducted a research for the past five years on how melting ice and change in climate is affecting northern communities in Canada. One of his findings is a change in those communities diet. Loss of hunting grounds and changes in ice patterns are affecting the people in such way that they need to find a substitute nourishment for their diet, which usually consists of high carbon, easily transportable and storable food. Inevitable, this change in their diet has lead to some health problems, where high carbon food is not on their usual menu. A loss of identity is also mentioned as a concern where younger generations do not participate in traditional hunts. This is reported at the CNN website as an Earths Frontiers feature that was published on December 30th 2011 (see full article).

Unfortunately, this problem has been known for some time where loss of traditional hunting grounds are affecting northern communities, where loss of identify and traditional nutrition is changing theirs way of life. Pollutants have also been identified as a major problem since traditional food becomes inedible due to persistent toxics in the Arctic, which has lead to change in traditional diet in northerners lives. This has for example been identified in the Arctic Human Development report, which was published in 2004.

However there is no doubt that the Arctic is facing a major transformation, where people and animals need to adapt. Some of those changes are socio-economically positive, whilst other is not. Therefore there is a need to further identify those changes and measures need to be adopted in order to reduce the negative impact of changing climate.

21 December 2010

t-logo-icesApplications are invited for the post of General Secretary of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). The post, which will become vacant on 31 January 2012, is based at the Council's headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark.

ICES, the world's oldest intergovernmental scientific organisation, promotes and co-ordinates marine research pertaining to living resources and their environment, publishes the results of this research, and provides scientific information and advice for the management of fisheries and the marine environment.

While ICES is proud of its rich tradition of excellence in marine science, it is continuously changing to keep pace with modern needs. These changes involve broadening participation in ICES activities, developing new scientific programmes, tailoring scientific advice to meet changing user needs, and modernising infrastructure that supports the ICES scientific community. The General Secretary needs to be a dynamic leader of such changes.

E-mail applications, including curriculum vitae and references, should be submitted to no later than Thursday 31 March 2011. Additional information about the post may be obtained from the General Secretary Gerd Hubold at .

For additional information about the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), please visit their HOMEPAGE.

17 December 2010

RAFSeaKing-600x450

Member states of the Arctic Council, Canada, Denmark on behalf f the Faroe islands and Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and The US have finished drafting a cooperation agreement on search and rescue in the Arctic in a meeting held in Reykjavík 14.-16. December. In addition to state representatives, around 50 academics and experts from the respective states and International Civil Aviation Organization participated in the meeting, which is a final part of a year long work process.

The agreement targets the changed reality in the Arctic where due to the climate change increasing transportation opportunities have emerged in recent years and are only to increase in coming years. Until now, there have lacked a coordinated emergency response scheme for the Arctic ocean and airspace. The new agreement will divide the Arctic into specific search and rescue areas, each Arctic state being liable for specific territory.

jaanmurtajaThe agreement is historical also in political sense, since it is the first international agreement between the eight Arctic states brought about under the auspices of the Arctic Council.  It is anticipated that this new agreement will follow other agreements targeting issues as important for the Arctic region, such as pollution and renewable natural resources.

The agreement on search and rescue will have its final seal in the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in May 2011 in Nuuk, Greenland, where it will be signed by the eight Arctic States.

source: Icelandic Foreign Ministry http://www.utanrikisraduneyti.is/frettir/nr/6081

14 December 2010

Kolasamenesforsamling2_550x367

Barents Observer / Barents Indigenous Peoples' Office - The Russian Saami in Kola peninsula have founded a first democratically elected representative organ by establishing the Saami Parliament of Murmansk Oblast or Kuelnegk Soamet Sobbar, as the Parliament is called in original language.

The Kola peninsula Parliament, which is one of now four Saami Parliaments, was established on December 12th 2010 by the 2nd Congress of the Saami people of Murmansk Oblast, which has until now been the main representative organ of the some 2,000 Saami people living on the Kola Peninsula in Russia. The new parliament will have 9 representatives elected by delegates representing Saami communities in Murmansk Oblast and will be chaired by Valentina V. Sovkina.

7 December 2010

EU Arctic Policy

EU-ARCTIC-Forum will be hosting a debate with Arctic Stakeholders on the European Parliaments Report "A Sustainable EU policy for the High North" on 8. December 2010 in Brussels. Birgit Schnieber-Jastram, Chair of the EU-ARCTIC-Forum will host the meeting with the rapporteur Michael Gahler MEP and the shadow rapporteurs Anneli Jäätteenmäki MEP, Liisa Jaakonsaari MEP, Indrek Tarand MEP and Konrad Szymanski MEP before the December 9 vote of the Report in the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

With the debate the EU-ARCTIC-Forum in the European Parliament wants to ensure a proper involvement of stakeholders facilitating thus well informed discourse in Brussels on Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Resources, World Trade Routes, Security, Sustainable Development etc, that are important subjects in the Arctic context.

Those who want to participate and do not have an access badge to the EP yet, please send your details for registration (name, surname, date of birth, address) asap to Michael Gahler MEP. (michael.gahler(at)europarl.europa.eu)

8. December at 17.15

in Room ASP 3 H 1

in the European Parliament in Brussels.

Presentation and Consideration of the Draft Report on "A sustainable EU Policy for the High North" in the last meetings of the European Parliaments Committee on Foreign Affairs

Summary

Overall the Draft Report seems to be well perceived, both in the EU and in the Arctic. Thus there is justified hope that the Report will not only contribute to outline the EU's Arctic policy, but also to contribute to confidence building with the Arctic stakeholders.The Draft Report undertakes to asses the existing legal and political framework in the Arctic as well as to establish a clear set of priorities of the European Union with regard to the Arctic. In the last part the Report is formulating suggestions and request to the European Commission and the Council and offering close cooperation to the Arctic states and stakeholders.

The Draft Report is clearly stating that the Arctic Region is not a legal vacuum, but has a developed set of rules which nevertheless need to be further developed due to changing circumstances.
Main priorities of the EU in the Arctic set out are:
- The road to a sustainable socio-economic development and environmental protection
- The potential of new world transport routes and their vital importance to the EU member's states
- The potential of developing resources like Hydrocarbons, Minerals, fish and biogenetic resources
With regard to a sustainable socio-economic development the Eco-System based management approach as applied in the Barents today is recognised.The Report makes a clear statement as to the responsibility of the EU as one of the main contributors to pollution and climate change.

In its conclusion the Report requests the Commission to set up a permanent Inter service on the Arctic and likewise in the future EEAS.
Requests and suggestions are made as to a new circumpolar co-funding and co-programming research programme.
Finally the importance of EU engagement in the further development of Northern Sea Routes is highlighted and suggestions as to the Galileo project are made.

 

After an intense period of organised hearings, meetings and preparations on Tuesday, 9. November, the Draft of the European Parliaments Report on "A sustainable EU Policy for the High North" was presented and debated by the Parliaments Rapporteur Michael Gahler MEP.

The Debate with the Commission, the shadow rapporteurs of the political groups and several other MEPs, most of them participating in the EU-ARCTIC-Forum, can be watched online HERE

The Consideration of Amendments has taken place on 18. November and can bee watched HERE

The Draft Report can be downloaded in all EU languages HERE

The List of Amendments can be downloaded HERE

About the EU-ARCTIC-Forum in the European Parliament

Function

The EU-Arctic-Forum was constructed to provide the European Institutions with a cross-party platform to foster a better understanding of changes in the Arctic Region and its implication for Europeans citizens politics and businesses, to facilitate a well informed and balanced debate, as well as to bolster the development of a coherent European Policy with regard to the Arctic Region.

The EU-ARCTIC-Forum is the European Parliament's platform working on all Issues with regard to the Arctic, providing not only for exchange and input of information but to interlink the so far too often fragmented debates on the Arctic.

Participants

The EU-ARCTIC-Forum is involving a number of MEP's from all major political groups and several committees, Delegations and Intergroup's such as the Committees on Foreign Affairs, Environment, Transport, Industry, Research and Energy, Development and Transport.

Thus the EU-ARCTIC-Forum works as the European Parliaments platform interlinking all issues regarding the Arctic Region.

It invites on a regular basis speakers from the scientific community, business, NGOs, and international institutions in the format of breakfast briefings, seminars or dinner speeches.

Future Meetings are already organized and interest to participate was already expressed by several Commissioners and other High Officials, Foreign Ministers and Ambassadors of several Arctic States, as well as high profile leaders of the international or European Institutions such as the European Environmental Agency, the International Maritime Organisation and the Nordic Council of Ministers, but also from Civil society, NGO' s and the energy, fishing and shipping industry as well by leading academics in the field.

Contributions

In light of the ambition to stimulate and contribute to an informed debate, we call for contributions to the EU-ARCTIC-Newsletter by all interested participants and readers. We want to invite you to share your insights and opinions with the politicians, experts and stakeholders whose work will be addressed by this newsletter.

The editor of the EU-Arctic-Newsletter and the organizers of the EU-ARCTIC-Forum look forward to your valuable comments and contributions and would like to draw your attention in particular to the forthcoming activities on the European Parliaments Report on "A sustainable EU Policy for the High North" in November and December in Brussels!

28 November 2010

arcticshippBarents Observer - The Sovcomflot Group (SCF), Russia's largest shipping company and one of the world's leading energy transporters, and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, signed a strategic cooperation agreement in the energy transportation. The agreement is founded on the Sovcomflot's experience in trans-Arctic shipping and will utilize the transportation potential of the Northern Sea Route, shipping hydrocarbons and transporting oil and gas extracted at Russian northern coast.

Both China and Russia have showed increasing interest in cooperation in the Arctic waters. Just lately, the Russians signed a treaty on maritime delimitation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean with Norway. China on the other hand has actively discussed various aspects of Arctic shipping with, at least, Norway, Russia and Iceland.