The Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, addressed the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik today where he gave a broad overview of Iceland´s priorities and the future of Arctic cooperation. In his speech he underlined the challenges and opportunities in the Arctic in the coming years and decades.
The minister said that having the front row seat to witnessing climate change places special responsibility on the shoulders of the Arctic States.
Regarding economic development he emphasized that governments apply the highest environmental standards and that the private sector has the clear policy to adhere to those standards. He said that the challenging policy question was to seek balance between conservation and utilization.
The Foreign Minister outlined recent steps taken by the government to enhance the Arctic policy. A Committee of Ministers on Arctic Affairs, which the Prime Minister presides over, ensures a whole-of government approach, focusing on policy coherence, internal coordination and effective participation in international activities. The government will review the feasibility of establishing an international rescue and response center in Iceland, enhancing Iceland's public diplomacy effort concerning the importance of the Arctic and further cooperation with the business community on developing opportunities both in Iceland and abroad.