Science holds the solutions: Ministers of Science meet on Arctic cooperation
"Cooperation in Arctic science is required to meet the complex challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss," said Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, Minister of Education, Science and Culture, in her opening speech at an international meeting of 28 ministers of science over the weekend.
This is the third Arctic Science Ministerial meeting, co-hosted by Iceland and Japan. The first ministerial meeting was initiated by the United States in 2016 in Washington.
In addition to the 28 countries, representatives of six Indigenous peoples' organizations took part in the meeting over the weekend. A focus on people who live in the Arctic is one of the guiding principles of the Icelandic chairmanship of the Arctic Council, which ends this month. In the Arctic, 4 million people live in the Arctic, spread across 8 states, of which 10% of which are Indigenous.
Lilja Alfreðsdóttir Minister of Education and Culture:
"The impetus behind these meetings is to strengthen international cooperation around common priorities of countries who are engaged in Arctic research. The benefits of these meetings have already resulted in increased research collaboration, shared knowledge and closer dialogue between all stakeholders. Emphasis on the Arctic now at the forefront of international policy where much is at stake. We all have our role to play in science and research. Where some may have the resources to implement large scientific infrastructure, others may offer deep knowledge and understanding of their local ecosystem. I believe we are stronger together. The threat of climate change is grave and immediate, our collective efforts to both adapt to and reverse this threat must be quick and buoyant with the spirit of cooperation."
Embla Eir Oddsdóttir, Executive Director of the Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network participated in the preparation of the meeting as Iceland's representative in the ASM3 Scientific Advisory Board. Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson, Iceland's Ambassador to Japan, chaired the second day of the meeting from Tokyo.
The keynote speaker on behalf of Iceland at the meeting was the economist Dr. Joan Nymand Larsen, a researcher at the Stefánsson Institute and a professor at the University of Akureyri. Her focus is on economic and sustainable development in the Arctic, utilization and management of natural resources and the social and economic impact of climate change.
Dr. Joan Nymand Larsen, Economist:
"The future of the Arctic will be determined to a great extend by today’s youth, as they make choices around the opportunities and challenges they face. That's why it's important that we listen to their views, hear their voices—so we have a better understanding of that future. It is clear that many young people are very concerned about climate change. They often feel too ineffective to change things—and that politicians do not listen to them. ”
Preparations for the ministerial began in 2018 and Iceland and Japan have worked closely together to shape its priorities, both of which take into account previous ministerial meetings, ASM1 and ASM2 as well as an expanded consultation process with the wider Arctic research community. The results of Iceland's preparations include the report Mapping of Arctic research in Iceland , AM3 database on Arctic projects, an ambitious Joint Statement of Ministers, and a comprehensive Science Report of the meeting, Knowledge for a sustainable Arctic, where you can find an overview and information from all participating countries and organizations about their contribution to international scientific cooperation and priorities.