“Canada has put Northerners at the forefront of the Arctic Council’s agenda”, said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Chair of the Arctic Council and Canada’s Minister for the Arctic Council, Minister of the Environment and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency. “Under our chairmanship, the Council has prioritized actions that will better the lives of Arctic residents”.

In Whitehorse, Senior Arctic Officials and Permanent Participants heard from the Arctic Council’s working groups and task forces on the progress being made on the Arctic Council’s ambitious program of work, including the priority initiatives under the Canadian chairmanship theme ‘Development for the People of the North’. These priorities include: ensuring responsible economic development in the Arctic; promoting circumpolar mental wellness; incorporating traditional and local knowledge into the work of the Council; and developing actions on marine oil pollution prevention and on short-lived climate pollutants – in particular, black carbon and methane.

Many projects and deliverables were approved for delivery to the April 24-25, 2015 Iqaluit Ministerial, including projects that promote sustainable development, protect biodiversity, enhance emergency preparedness and response, protect the marine environment, and assess and address pollutants in the Arctic.

“This meeting was particularly important as it was the final Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting during Canada’s chairmanship,” said Vincent Rigby, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials. “We are now in an excellent position to deliver ambitious results in Iqaluit. As always, I am pleased with the high level of cooperation shown by all of our Arctic Council partners.”

The Iqaluit 2015 Ministerial Meeting will mark the conclusion of Canada’s second chairmanship of the Arctic Council and the beginning of the second US chairmanship. The first Ministerial Meeting was also held in Iqaluit at the conclusion of Canada’s first Chairmanship (1996-1998).

While in Whitehorse, the Arctic Council also presented a public outreach event at Yukon College focusing on the Council’s work to address black carbon and methane emissions in the Arctic and to develop an online climate change adaptation portal.

The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum for cooperation on Arctic issues, bringing together representatives from the eight Arctic States and six Permanent Participant organizations to discuss important issues related to sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. 

[To see a backgrounder on the Arctic Council, click here.]