Hoppa yfir valmynd
Ministry for Foreign Affairs

International Polar Year meeting in St. Petersburg 22 January 2004

IPY Meeting, St. Petersburg

22-23 January 2003

Statement on behalf of the Chairman of Senior Arctic Officials

Allow me, on behalf of the Chair of Senior Arctic Officials, Ambassador Pálsson, to thank Russia for its initiative on the International Polar Year (IPY) in 2007/08 and for the invitation to attend this meeting and to say a few words about the perspective of the Arctic Council.

Let me begin by stating the obvious. The Arctic Council is deeply interested in the IPY. We are committed to taking an active part in developing the concept itself and ensuring that the major stakeholders in the Arctic region can benefit form its implementation.

The great interest the member states and permanent participants are taking in the IPY was reflected, not least, at the last meeting of Senior Arctic Officials in Iceland last October. In general, the IPY is being viewed as a real opportunity to stimulate cooperation and coordination among international research communities, to increase awareness and visibility of the Arctic region and take important steps in furthering Arctic research.

In the view of the Senior Arctic Officials, the Arctic Council should be actively involved in pursuing and preparing the IPY. Nearly all the Council’s working groups deal with issues connected to the IPY concept and will be affected by the results of the IPY. More active cooperation with relevant Arctic Council observers, such as IASC, has also been mentioned in this context.

In particular, the Senior Arctic Officials called for the inclusion of a human dimension in the concept of the IPY and welcomed that social and economic dimensions are included in the programme for the first time. Several relevant Arctic Council projects could be mentioned in this connection; the Arctic Human Development Report, the Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic region (SLICA), the budding sustainable development action plan and the Future of the Children and Youth of the Arctic Initiative.

Environmental work, which has been the main focus of the Arctic Council, in many instances takes into account the effects environmental change can have for Arctic residents, for example, the relationship between contaminants and health and the possible effects of climate change on economic development, resource use and infrastructure.

In light of the main objectives that have been set for the polar year, the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) seems to be an obvious candidate for integration into the long term planning perspective. The ACIA is scheduled to be finalized this year and it is therefore important to note that all the chapter authors involved in the ACIA project have identified research priorities of importance that need to be addressed in the context of climate change in order to answer some of the compelling questions of the future.

Another example of integration possibilities is the monitoring work of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), to be dealt with by the Executive Secretary of AMAP at this meeting.

The Arctic Council offers many opportunities for broadening the appeal of the IPY. The Arctic Science Summit Week to be hosted in Iceland in April is one such opportunity. During that week, a special session will be devoted to the IPY. This could be an excellent opportunity to further define the Arctic Council contribution to the international polar year.

By way of conclusion, let me reiterate that the Arctic Council stands ready to make a substantial contribution to the international polar year, and looks forward to working with the important players that have been convened here in St. Petersburg to that end.


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