April 24, 2015
IQALUIT, CANADA – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a founding member of the Senate Arctic Caucus, attended the 2015 Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in Iqaluit, Canada where the United States formally assumed its two-year tenure as Chair of the Arctic Council. Chairmanship of the Council presents the United States with the opportunity to demonstrate greater leadership within the region.
“The Arctic is a new frontier, and as the leading nation on the Arctic Council, the United States now has the opportunity to help build a future defined by cooperation and collaboration within the region,” Senator King said. “And as one of the closest American trade hubs, Maine will play a central role in those opportunities as commercial, cultural, and educational exchanges increase in the coming years. Undoubtedly there are many challenges ahead, but I hope the United States and its Arctic neighbors will seize this chance to usher in a new era of forward-looking leadership that will foster peace and prosperity in the Arctic for decades to come.”
During the meeting, Secretary Kerry presented the 2015-2017 U.S. Arctic Council chairmanship program, “One Arctic: Shared Opportunities, Challenges, and Responsibilities,” which highlighted U.S. chairmanship priorities, including addressing the impacts of climate change; Arctic Ocean safety, security and stewardship; and improving economic and living conditions for people in the Arctic.
Since visiting the Arctic last year, Senator King has called for greater U.S. leadership in the region and has also said the U.S. must recalibrate its national security and economic strategies to better address the changing Arctic environment. To spotlight the region and open up a wider conversation about the nation’s future in the Arctic, he and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Chair of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, launched the Senate Arctic Caucus last month.
The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum that provides a means to promote cooperation, coordination, and interaction among the Arctic States, with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues. It consists of the eight Arctic States: Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. Six international organizations representing Arctic Indigenous Peoples have permanent participant status and twelve non-Arctic countries have been admitted as observers.
The meeting, which takes place every two years, brought together ministers of the Arctic states and representatives of the Indigenous Permanent Participant organizations to set the Council’s objectives for the coming two years.