Washington, DC (STL.News) Today, at the 12th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, foreign ministers from all eight Arctic States signed onto the 2021 joint declaration reaffirming the Council’s commitment to maintain peace, stability, and constructive cooperation in the Arctic region, emphasizing Arctic States’ unique position to promote responsible governance in the region, and asserting the importance of immediately addressing the climate crisis in the Arctic. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s participation in the Arctic Council ministerial and signing of the joint declaration reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable Arctic region. In recognition of the Council’s 25th anniversary, the ministers approved the Council’s first ever strategic plan that reflects the shared values and joint aspirations of the eight Arctic States and six indigenous Permanent Participant organization. It will guide the Council’s work for the next decade.
Members also recognized the Arctic Council’s 25th anniversary and marked the passing of the two-year chair from Iceland to the Russian Federation (2021 to 2023). During its time as Arctic Council chair, Iceland emphasized work on the Arctic marine environment, climate and clean energy solutions, people and communities in the Arctic, and strengthening the Arctic Council. Iceland’s leadership and adaptability these past two years have strengthened the Arctic Council and allowed its work not only to continue, but flourish under challenging conditions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council’s accomplishments during Iceland’s time as chair include deliverables that strengthen the knowledge base on Arctic shipping, enhance emergency response in Arctic waters, assess climate impacts on Arctic ecosystems, reduce pollution, promote the well-being of Arctic inhabitants, and much more. Major reports adopted at the Ministerial meeting include the Arctic Climate Change Update 2021, the State of the Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Report, a Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter in the Arctic, Gender Equality in the Arctic report, and the Summary of Progress and Recommendations from the Council’s Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane.