Denmark Assumes Chairmanship of Arctic Council

Denmark assumed chairmanship of the Arctic Council (AC) at the sixth Ministerial Meeting in Tromsø, Norway, in April 2009. More than 300 participants attended, including delegates from the eight arctic nations, observer states, and indigenous peoples' organizations.

Following on two years of Norwegian leadership, Denmark's program for 2009–2011 prioritizes peoples of the Arctic, the International Polar Year (IPY) legacy, climate change, biodiversity, megatrends in the Arctic, integrated resource management, operational cooperation, and the AC in a new geopolitical framework. Per Stig Møller, Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, will serve as chair—he replaces Jonas Gahr Støre.

The Tromsø Declaration was also endorsed and signed at the meeting and provides guidance on the work of the Arctic Council under Danish leadership. Recommendations adopted by the AC encompass search and rescue, arctic shipping guidelines, infrastructure safety, oil and gas exploration, non-CO2 drivers of climate change, ocean management, and melting ice. The declaration also says that the AC is "deeply concerned by the escalating rate of warming of the arctic climate, which will likely also affect the rest of the world."

The 6th Ministerial Meeting was scheduled in conjunction with a meeting entitled Melting Ice: Regional Dramas, Global Wake-Up Call between former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, foreign ministers, and climate change scientists.

The chair of the AC rotates among member states every two years. Sweden is set to assume leadership in 2011. Norway, Denmark, and Sweden identified a common set of priorities for their successive chairmanships: climate change, integrated management of resources, IPY, indigenous peoples and local living conditions, and AC management issues. To continue the focus on common priorities and foster development of institutional memory, the AC Secretariat will remain in Tromsø for the duration of the three Nordic chairmanships.

Due to the increased activity and interest in the Arctic, the established schedule of biannual Senior Arctic Officials meetings and biennial ministerial meetings will be supplemented with meetings in alternate years on the political (deputy foreign minister or equivalent) level. The next ministerial meeting is scheduled for April 2011 in Greenland.

For more information, see the AC website, or contact the Secretariat (ac-chair [at] arctic-council [dot] org).