The Arctic Circle Assembly Starts Today - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The Arctic Circle Assembly Starts Today

Published October 7, 2016

Signe Smala
Photo by
Algkalv/Wikimedia Commons

The largest international gathering on Arctic issues, The Arctic Circle Assembly, starts today at Harpa and hosts 2000 participants from more than 40 countries.

Taking place until October 9, the conference will cover a wide range of topics, including the impacts of climate change, business and economic development, sustainability, indigenous people, oil and gas activities in the Arctic, tourism and more.

The Assembly will feature more than 400 well-known and respected speakers from various fields. Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon will deliver keynote speeches.

In the opening session, the public will be addressed by Admiral Robert Papp, U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic; Timo Soini, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Finland and Gao Feng, Special Representative for Climate Change Negotiations of the Foreign Ministry of China.

In the following days, Harpa will be not only scattered with plenary and breakout sessions of the Assembly, but it will also hold art exhibitions, a concert by Zarina Kopyrina (Sakha Republic, Nunavut) and movie screenings, all depicting different facets of the Arctic theme.

The conference serves as a politically neutral platform, encouraging participants to attend various meetings, conduct their own networking and take part in informal discussions, thus accelerating collaborative decision-making. It brings together government representatives, organisations, corporations, think thanks, scientists and universities, as well as others interested in the development of the Arctic from all around the world. The participants maintain their institutional independence and decision-making abilities.

The Arctic Circle was introduced in 2013 by Iceland’s former president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.

On that occasion, Ólafur stated, “The Arctic has suffered from a lack of global awareness and, as a result, a lack of effective governance. In the past, the region did not matter to the world’s decision-makers and was largely forgotten. Now, with sea-ice levels at their lowest point in recorded history, the world is waking up to the challenges and opportunities the Arctic presents for its citizens as well as those who live in lower latitudes.”

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