Coming at the end of the Week of the Arctic in Alaska, which concludes the US Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, the Declaration has particular relevance for the circumpolar research and higher education communities. These elements are particularly significant as Finland, the incoming Arctic Council chair country, has chosen education as one of its key priorities.
The Declaration names UArctic as key actor in education in section 21, where the Ministers of the Arctic, "Recognize the importance of education in fostering sustainable development and building resilience in Arctic communities, encourage the advancement of equal access to good education at all levels, from early childhood to post-secondary, to all Arctic residents, paying particular attention to empowerment and capacity-building of indigenous youth and involving the University of the Arctic where appropriate, and encourage international co-operation in developing culturally appropriate teacher competencies."
Cooperation in Arctic science has been an ongoing focus of the Arctic Council, and the Fairbanks Declaration further strengthens the basis for this cooperation through a legally-binding agreement among the Arctic states. In section 33, the Ministers, "Announce the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation, the third legally binding agreement negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council, which will help increase effectiveness and efficiency in the development of scientific knowledge about the region as well as strengthen scientific cooperation in the Arctic region, and encourage its implementation by all parties following its entry into force."
No less significant to the future of scientific activities in the Arctic are the states' commitments to climate change research and action under the Paris Agreement, "Noting with concern that the Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate of the global average, resulting in widespread social, environmental, and economic impacts in the Arctic and worldwide, and the pressing and increasing need for mitigation and adaptation actions and to strengthen resilience". The Ministers also reaffirm the need to realize the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
According to the newly-signed Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation, the governments are to facilitate entry and exit of persons, equipment and material; facilitate access to research infrastructure, facilities and data as well as research areas; encourage the use of traditional and local knowledge; and promote education, career development, and training opportunities for students and early-career scientists.