Three Arctic countries ministers will meet in Tromsoe, Norway, today to officially open the new Arctic Council Secretariat: Norwegian and Swedish Foreign Affairs Ministers Espen Barth Eide and Carl Bildt, respectively, and Leona Aglukkaq who is Canadian Minister of Health and newly appointed Minister of the Arctic Council.
The Tromsoe visit marks the culmination of Ms. Aglukkaq’s tour of the Nordic countries initiated last week with her visit to Iceland on Tuesday, followed by visits to Denmark, Finland and Sweden.
Ms. Aglukkaq is introducing herself as the head of the incoming Canadian Chairmanship and outlining the policy that Canada will strive to implement during its 2 year-term.
Resources and Sustainable Developments in the Arctic (ReSDA) is the name of a Canadian project aimed at helping Northern communities get more out of their natural resources. The project coordinators point to historical precedents like the Klondyke gold rush in the 1890’s.
The sudden influx of some 100,000 people had devastating impacts on the indigenous population in the Yukon areas as had the Arctic whaling industry in the beginning of the 20th century.
The ReSDA coordinators could also point to current or impending scrambles for oil, gas and minerals in almost every part of the Arctic region, in Greenland, Alaska, Arctic Russia, and Scandinavia. Everywhere there’s a need for finding ways to ensure that more benefits of resource development stay in the local communities.
Member of the Canadian Parliament for Nunavut Leona Aglukkaq will be chairing the Arctic Council when chairmanship passes from Sweden to Canada in May 2013. The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday announced the appointment of Ms. Aglukkaq.
As chair of the Arctic Council – or chair of the Arctic countries’ Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) – she will not only act as Canada’s ambassador to the Arctic.