The Arctic's future is both bright and sustainable

Canada is fully committed to working with the Arctic Council to ensure a better future for all Arctic states, writes Dan Costello.

By Dan Costello

11 May 2016

The sustainable development of the north remains a priority for Canada's Arctic policy. Canada is working to develop and diversify the northern economy, investing in resource development, fisheries, community business development, tourism, and cultural industries.

It is in this spirit that Canada's Minister of fisheries, oceans and the coastguard, Hunter Tootoo, visited Brussels last week, attending the annual Seafood Show and meeting with Commission and Council officials, as well as members of the European Parliament.

Canada's emphasis on the social and economic well-being of northerners is underpinned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's commitment to a renewed nation-to-nation relationship between the government of Canada and indigenous peoples. 


This relationship must be built on a foundation of mutual recognition, rights, respect, cooperation and partnership and informed by a spirit of reconciliation. Indigenous and northern partnerships will be crucial for the sustainable development of the Canadian Arctic region.

Climate change poses significant challenges in the Arctic. Canada's new government recognises this and is now redefining its Arctic policy priorities to address both these serious challenges and the new opportunities that climate change may present. 

This is made clear in Canada's most recent policy statement on the Arctic; Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama's March 2016 joint statement on climate, energy and Arctic leadership. In this statement, Canada and the United States commit to advancing climate action globally and to working to implement the Paris agreement. 

The two leaders call on Arctic nations and those with Arctic interests to embrace a new future for Arctic leadership, focused on four objectives; conserving Arctic biodiversity through science-based decision-making, building a sustainable Arctic economy, supporting strong Arctic communities and incorporating indigenous science and traditional knowledge into decision-making.

Canada is deeply committed to the Arctic Council, the primary forum for international cooperation on Arctic issues. This body stands apart from other regional cooperation organisations because the six permanent participants, representing Arctic indigenous groups, are at the table alongside the eight Arctic states. 

With science at the core of its work, the Arctic Council complements Canada's commitment to science-based decision making. Canada will continue to work with Arctic Council states, permanent participants and observers to shape a better future for the Arctic through sound, science-based decision-making informed by traditional knowledge.

Canada is also investing in partnerships that will enhance Arctic scientific knowledge. Polar Knowledge Canada is building bridges between Canadian and international researchers, including many in Europe. The unique facilities of the Canadian high Arctic research station (CHARS) that will open in

Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, in 2017 will allow international researchers to conduct Arctic research year-round. 

This work will supplement our increased cooperation and collaboration in Arctic science, technology and innovation with the EU and the United States in the framework of the transatlantic ocean research alliance.

As the EU releases its joint communication this week, Canada looks forward to new opportunities for cooperation in the Arctic with the European Union and its member states.


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