GLACIER conference calls for Arctic protection

The US State Department-sponsored GLACIER conference (Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience) closed on Monday (Aug. 31) at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska.

The aim of the meeting, led by US Secretary of State John Kerry, was to bring global attention to the most urgent issues facing the artic today, and to highlight international and domestic priorities in the area. Issues on the agenda included resilience building for coastal communities, strengthening international preparedness and cooperation for emergency response, protecting communities and the environment via climate and air quality projects, preventing unregulated fishing, innovative housing technology for cold climates, and strengthening observation networks.

Over 400 delegates from 20 countries attended the event, including foreign ministers and high-level leaders from the 8 Arctic nations, as well as countries and intergovernmental bodies with strong interests in the Arctic, including Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the EU. The group in attendance comprised a majority of the global GHG emitters.

Held in the lead up to COP21 in Paris, and at the same time as the opening of the August round of interim negotiations in Bonn, US President Barack Obama took the opportunity to deliver an urgent warning to foreign ministers and delegates in attendance on the need to address climate change, stating that “climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it” and “none of the countries represented here are moving fast enough.” All representatives in attendance at GLACIER recognized the need to protect the unique region, and affirmed strong determination to work together and with others to achieve a successful outcome at the international climate negotiations in Paris later this year.

Accordingly, the main outcome of the event is a Joint Statement on Climate Change and the Arctic, where representatives from the Arctic States and several other nations reaffirmed their commitment to take urgent action to slow the pace of warming in the Arctic.

Additionally, during the conference, the EU announced plans to dedicate €200 million to Arctic research over the next 5 years to help the international community better understand the changes occurring in the region. Furthermore, the EU announced plans to commit €40 million to initiatives focused on cooperative scientific research on Arctic climate change and its global impacts next year.

Although not officially an Artic Council event, GLACIER was organized by the US during its chairmanship of the forum, which began in April and will last until 2017.


(Image: President Barack Obama addresses foreign ministers and local leaders at GLACIER conference, August 31, 2015. Photo credit: GLACIER/Flickr)