Marc Jacobson will be attending the Fairbanks Ministerial Meeting, firstname.lastname@example.org, +45 535.680.66
Victoria Herrmann, Washington, D.C, email@example.com, +1 201.247.9352
Ryan Uljua, Boston, MA, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 203.586.8456
Washington D.C., May 10, 2017 – Tomorrow, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will hand over the Arctic Council Chairmanship to Finland in Fairbanks, Alaska. The meeting marks the end of two years of American leadership in the Arctic and uncertainty for what comes next under the Trump Administration in a rapidly melting region.
To mark the event, The Arctic Institute released a new policy brief on the handover of the Arctic Council Chairmanship. The report finds that it will be difficult to foster transatlantic cooperation between the United States under President Trump and other Arctic States around the stated Finnish focus of the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals. The brief also encourages the Arctic Council to consider increasing the involvement of subnational governments, like Alaska, in the Council’s work.
Victoria Herrmann, President and Managing Director of the Institute, stated: “With the effects of climate change becoming increasingly dramatic in the region, the US Chairmanship of the Arctic Council came at a crucial moment — and the Obama Administration’s ambitious efforts largely rose to meet that challenge. Their achievements, most notably the GLACIER Conference and the initiatives that followed, constituted a considerable leap forward in America’s commitments to Alaska, to the Arctic, and to the Council.”
“However, the US will end its leadership of the Arctic Council without an official statement by the current administration about its national Arctic policy stance, without a plan to engage with the region after the Chairmanship returns to Europe for the next twelve years, and, unfortunately, without an Arctic Special Representative, continued Hermann. (In January 2017, Admiral Papp stepped down from his position to take a Washington-based lobbying job at the Eastern Shipbuilding Group Inc.)
Herrmann further elaborated: “The transition from the Obama Administration’s One Arctic vision to President Trump’s America First agenda has left Arctic states unsure of how, and to what extent, the US will actively contribute to the ambitions of the Finnish Chairmanship and engage in the Council. While Secretary of State Tillerson will participate in the Ministerial Meeting in Fairbanks, there is skepticism that his presence will translate to sustained interest in the region and to Finland’s goal of implementing the Paris Agreement.”
Ryan Uljua, Research Associate at the Institute stated: “Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the US chairmanship was continuing to insulate the work of the Arctic Council from broader tensions between Russia and the West. Furthermore, the agreement on science cooperation signed in Fairbanks will be just the third legally-binding agreement brokered under the auspices of the Arctic Council, which itself marks an important milestone.”
“Anticipating that it could not complete all its goals during its two-year chairmanship, the US focused early on preparing for a smooth transition to the Finnish Chairmanship. Given the unique relationship between Finland and Russia, it is highly likely that we’ll see that trend will continue under the Finnish chairmanship.”
Read The Arctic Institute’s Full Report on the changing Arctic Council.
About The Arctic Institute
The Arctic Institute is an interdisciplinary, independent think tank focused on Arctic policy issues. We are a think tank for the 21st century – a network of young professionals who work from locations around the globe and who represent expertise in many different disciplines. Collaboration, creativity and independence are all critical to our success. We strive to provide the most nuanced, objective, clear and candid analysis possible. In general, we see the Arctic as a fast-evolving region characterized by international and inter-sectoral cooperation rather than a region in which Cold-War mentality and behavior still dominate. Located in Washington, D.C. The Arctic Institute comprises of scholars across the continents and speak multiple languages: www.thearcticinstitute.org.