Magnús Jóhannesson was appointed as the first Director of the Arctic Council's Secretariat, at today's meeting of Senior Arctic Officials in Haparanda, Sweden. The Council's Secretariat is to be set up in Tromsø, Norway, next year. Jóhannesson, who was selected from a group of 36 candidates from seven out of eight member states of the Arctic Council, is expected to take up his duties in February next year. The role of the Secretariat, which will be formally opened following the Council's Ministerial Meeting next spring, is to strengthen the work of the Council and communication on Arctic issues.
Magnús Jóhannsson has been the Secretary General of the Ministry for the Environment since 1992 and was previously the Director of the Icelandic Maritime Administration from 1985.
In March 2011, the Icelandic Parliament, Alþingi, unanimously approved a motion by Minister for Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphéðinsson on Iceland's policy on Arctic affairs, which emphasizes strengthening the work of the Arctic Council. The Icelandic government has resolutely worked towards the implementation of its Arctic policy; i.e. contributing to a binding agreement on Arctic marine oil pollution preparedness and response, the establishment of a position of Professor of Arctic Studies at the University of Akureyri and increased cooperation with the economic sector on Icelandic interests in the High North.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphéðinsson: “This is good news. Jóhannesson has extensive experience working with the Arctic Council and I am positive that he will do an outstanding job building up the Council's new Secretariat. His appointment is also a recognition of Iceland's good work regarding Arctic affairs in recent years.”