Last week EPRC researcher Rachel Maguire travelled to Reykjavik, Iceland to participate in the 2023 Arctic Circle Assembly. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the conferences creation, established to bring together academics, industry experts, indigenous groups, and the many other people who live and are interested in the Arctic region.
The 2023 conference hosted over 200 sessions with 700 speakers covering a wide array of topics, including energy, the environment, regional security, and social and cultural subjects.
The conference promotes dialogue between all participants through an open Q&A format and multiple networking events.
This year’s notable attendees included Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Admiral Rob Bauer of NATO, a plethora of national climate and environment ministers, and significant representation from Arctic indigenous groups and fora. The attendees are not restricted to the Arctic region, traveling from as far away as the Polynesian triangle, the Middle East, and South America to participate in the dialogue.
The 3-day conference was a hive of activity with packed plenary sessions interluded by breakout sessions and other engaging events. At all times side meetings are taking place in the never-ending rooms of the Harpa conference centre, forging new connections and reaffirming old.
The 10th anniversary of the conference also marks the 10-year ascension of 5 Asian states to observer status on the Arctic Council. An event that has been characterised by continued interest and involvement in Arctic affairs from South Korea, China, Japan, India, and Singapore.
A point of celebration this year is the continuation of the Arctic Council under Norwegian chairship, with support from all permanent participants, following a long and difficult diplomatic process. An achievement that’s possibility was highly debated at last year’s conference, with some claiming that the run of the Arctic Council had come to an end. The working groups are beginning to recommence crucial research which helped to fuel a reoccurring discussion over the conference about the role of scientific diplomacy.
Scotland was well represented in speakers and participants with Minister of energy Gillian Martin contributing to multiple plenary and breakout sessions on energy and the environment. The University of Strathclyde was represented in session by the presentation of Cameron Johnstone on microgrid energy infrastructure, as part of a collaborative project with researchers in Nunavut, Canada.
On day 2, the Fredirick Paulsen Academic Action award was presented to Professor Minik Rosing for his initiative on the use of glacial rock flour to reduce atmospheric CO2. The initiative received 100,000€ in funding to be implemented through the UArctic network.
Tributes were paid to the life of businessman Scott Minard who had been a staunch supporter of the Arctic Circle and the promotion of sustainable economic development via the Arctic Investment Protocol (AIP).
A standout session was the Arctic Economic Council’s closing session which showcased the variety and quality of Arctic art and design from biotech to indigenous led fashion and the film industry etc. The engaging showcase was followed by a ‘Isafjordur’ reception hosted by biotech company Keracis which brought to a close an incredible few days.
The Arctic Circle returns with a side forum held in May 2024 in Berlin; session proposal submissions are now open until February 1st 2024.
Some photographs from Rachel’s trip..