The Arctic Futures Symposium is an annual meeting organized by the International Polar Foundation and held in Brussels with the overall aim to connect and engage Arctic stakeholders in a public discourse with the EU and other Brussels-based organizations.
Opening statements included those by Marie-Anne Coninsx, Ambassador at Large for the Arctic for the EU, Elle Merete Omma, EU Coordinator for the Sámi Council, and Erik Sivertsenm, chair of the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region. The one-day event was then structured in four distinct roundtable discussions, focusing on “How Well Are the Arctic Institutions Serving the Needs of the Arctic and Its People?”, “Connecting the Arctic: Transport and Logistics”, “Culture, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship in the Arctic, and “Blue Growth in the Arctic: Prospects and Challenges”, with a fairly balanced participation of EU functionaries, representatives from Arctic countries — including Bryndís Kjartansdóttir (Senior Arctic Official of Iceland) and René Söderman (Senior Arctic Official of Finland) — as well as Indigenous peoples’ representatives. Live Tweeting was provided during the seminar (#ArcticFutures).
The following day, the EU-Circumpolar Arctic Dialogue Seminar (EUAPA) was held. It was organized under the EU- funded project, “EU Arctic Policy Assessment”, and convened by the European External Action Service and the European Commission, with the support of the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland (Finland) together with project partners (Alfred-Wegener-Institute, Germany and Arctic Portal, Iceland). The overall objective of the project is to provide technical support to the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission (EC) in strengthening the EU’s Arctic Policy, by bringing together stakeholders and EU policy-makers (read more about the project here).
IASC was asked to participate in a panel on “Arctic Maritime Transport” and to contribute inputs and suggestions for policymakers in the form of semi-structured discussions with the other participants. Before this year, IASC representatives and experts have attended and contributed to other Arctic shipping and maritime fora, as for example, the PAME Marine Litter Study, or the “Arctic Shipping Best Practices Information Forum”. This event brought together Arctic stakeholders and EU officials in the same room, and attendees were asked to answer some key-questions, to introduce a challenge within the theme of the workshop, and to discuss possible policy actions that could be taken.
Results and suggestion stemming from these discussions will be compiled together for a report that will be handed over to the European Commission.