As previewed by the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, during her speech at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik back in October, Edinburgh has recently followed Singapore, Québec, Nuuk and others in hosting its own Arctic Circle event. ‘Scotland and the New North’ was an Arctic Circle Forum in cooperation with the Scottish Government. Held over three days in the grand setting of the city’s historic Assembly Rooms it was a showcase for a wide range of themes with Arctic research relevance.

With opening speeches from the First Minister, the former President of Iceland, and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs from the Faroe Islands and Iceland, this was an event that was very much about highlighting and maximising opportunities for closer links between neighbours in the ‘New North’. Over 50 speakers across a dozen follow-on sessions gave the 300 diverse attendees a chance to hear from a broad range of researchers, opinion formers, decision-makers, business leaders and many others from across Scotland and other parts of the United Kingdom, as well as international experts.

Sessions ranged from climate change in the Arctic, how to build resilient communities, northern shipping capacity and routes, energy innovation, through to ‘blue growth’ and the potential for the north as a global aviation hub. I was grateful for the opportunity to join Prof. Mark Inall, the Director of the Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society and Prof. Maribeth Murray, Executive Director of the Arctic Institute of North America and colleagues in the session organised by Marine Scotland on ‘Arctic Seas – Environment, Fisheries and Monitoring’, where we took the opportunity to highlight the value of international Arctic science cooperation.

The event was another sign of the ever growing engagement and interest in the Arctic, and the value of ensuring that researchers’ voices are heard in those discussions. Further information and presentations (in due course) are available here: and

Contributed by IASC Council Member Henry Burgess, NERC Arctic Office, United Kingdom.
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