On May 21, Russia celebrates Polar Explorer's Day. It is symbolic that on its eve Russia, for two years, became the Chairman of the Arctic Council – the most authoritative international organization coordinating cooperation in the northern circumpolar region.
The Chairmanship of the AC passed to Russia from Iceland. On this occasion, a ministerial meeting of the countries of the Arctic Council was held in Reykjavik on 20 May. Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, received a ceremonial hammer from his Icelandic counterpart, Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson.
In his speech, Sergey Lavrov stated that the cross-cutting priority of the Russian Chairmanship in the Arctic Council would be the topic of responsible governance for sustainable Arctic.
“We intend to promote collective approaches to ensuring sustainable development of the Arctic region while maintaining a balance in its social, economic and environmental sectors, increasing synergy, constructive cooperation and coordination of the Arctic Council with other regional organizations, implementing the Strategic Plan of the Arctic Council based on respect for the rule of law,” said Russian Foreign Minister.
Earlier, our country presented the Comprehensive Program of its Chairmanship. It has four priority areas.
1.People of the Arctic, including indigenous peoples
It is planned to focus on maintaining the stability and vitality of the peoples of the North, to promote measures to adapt them to climate change, to improve the welfare, health, education and quality of life of people, to ensure progressive socio-economic development in the entire region.
2. Environmental protection
Russia considers the tasks of mitigating the negative consequences of climate change as paramount. This takes into account not only the vulnerability of the Arctic to climate change, but also its promising contribution – thanks to natural, energy and transport resources – to facilitating the transition to a low-emission economy and, accordingly, to fulfilling the goals and objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate. This should also be facilitated by the introduction of advanced innovative technologies in the region.
3. Socio-economic development
The focus of our Chairmanship will be on issues of further promoting economic cooperation in the region. It is sustainable economic development that is the key condition for the well-being and prosperity of the Arctic.
4. Strengthening the Arctic Council
Russia considers the AC format to be extremely successful in international cooperation in the Arctic. Its working and expert groups should become even more effective, decisions and recommendations should be implemented as much as possible. Among the priorities of the Chairmanship is the promotion of international scientific cooperation, in particular, the discussion of possibility of conducting Arctic Council scientific expedition to the Arctic Ocean.
For more information on the Arctic Council, see “No slamming the doors here”.