Circumpolar Challenges Workshop a success

The Rideau Institute is pleased to announce that the September 27 event “Circumpolar Challenges: An Ambitious Agenda for the Arctic Council” was a resounding success. Due to the high demand for participation in the event, which was recorded by CPAC, the house was standing room only

We were pleased to host the ambassadors of Sweden, Iceland, Germany, the European Union, Greece, Norway and Yemen. The event was also attended by embassy representatives from Argentina, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the Russian Federation, Spain, Switzerland and the Ukraine, as well as representatives from the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Inuit Circumpolar Council

Next year, Canada will take over the two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council from Sweden. Canada was the Council’s first chair from 1996 to 1998, and has not held the chair since then. The workshop aimed to set out the challenges that Canada will face during this period and promote this as an opportunity for Canada to create a lasting legacy.

Many thought-provoking speakers provided their insights at the event and the room never lost its enthusiasm for the diverse, challenging topics being discussed by the panellists.

The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, who was a prominent figure in the 1996 founding of the Arctic Council, delivered the keynote address. He echoed the dream of Mikhail Gorbachev that the Arctic should become a “Zone of Peace.” Axworthy stated that the Arctic Council must revisit the basic foundation of the Council and make “Peace First” a priority.

Arctic security was only one of the topics confronted during the workshop. There were two equally compelling panels, one on the environmental challenges being faced and another on the inclusion of further Permanent Observers.

It soon became obvious during the workshop that more dialogue is needed between all actors involved and that the human dimension must never be forgotten. The need for the human dimension was reaffirmed by many of the panellists who participated.

The pre-conference report, written by Dr. Michael Byers, proved to be an excellent springboard for ideas and was discussed in detail by the panellists and attendees. An electronic copy of the report is available here.

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