Largest Arctic assembly returns to the stage | Polarjournal
The largest global meeting of Arctic stakeholders from all sectors will finally take place as a real meeting again. Over the course of three days, there will be talks and lectures on all things Arctic. Video: Arctic Circle via Youtube

The pandemic of the past 18 months has not only brought life to a standstill economically or socially. The most important and largest meeting of Arctic stakeholders, the Arctic Circle Assembly, also fell victim to the pandemic last year. But this year, the meeting is making a comeback, albeit under the impact of major health measures, but still as a direct meeting again. And PolarJournal will be there again.

More than 400 speakers and presenters will address more than 1,000 guests from 40 countries over three days, according to the organizers. Thus, the largest global gathering of Arctic representatives returns to the stage somewhat smaller than before the pandemic, but no less glorious. In addition to numerous experts from various fields, high-ranking guests are also expected. They include US Senator Lisa Murkowski, EU Fisheries and Oceans Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Once again, the former Icelandic president and chairman of the Arctic Circle, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, has invited the participants.

The meeting will be held as a real meeting again this year, after being an online-only event last year due to the pandemic. At that time, it was again possible to attract top-class speakers who had spoken on a wide range of topics in the Arctic. But the many missing aspects of the normal Arctic Circle meetings, such as the informal exchanges on the sidelines of the numerous sessions and the cultural performances, could not outweigh the real meeting. That’s why everyone is all the happier now to be able to meet properly again. A safety concept with a compulsory COVID test regime, compulsory certification and compulsory masks in various parts, which was drawn up in cooperation with the Icelandic measures, is intended to protect the participants from the virus.

For the first time, the Frederik Paulsen Arctic Academic Action Award will be presented this year. This is to give special recognition to research in the context of climate change impacts.

At the last edition of the Arctic Circle Assembly, Switzerland’s long-awaited Arctic strategy attracted much praise and attention. This year, from a Swiss perspective, the first “Frederik Paulsen Arctic Academic Action Award” (FP4A) will be of particular interest. The philanthropist and patron of numerous polar projects, Dr. Frederik Paulsen, is also very active in the Swiss polar scene and lives there. In future, the prize will be awarded to outstanding action projects that counteract the effects of climate change. The prize is endowed with 100’000 Euro and the winner will receive a cooperation with the University of the Arctic – Network.

Iceland’s president from 1996 to 2016, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, had held the Arctic Circle meeting for the first time in 2013. The aim is to create a platform that brings together all Arctic interests and where strategies and solutions for Arctic problems can be developed in a targeted and interdisciplinary manner. Picture: Michael Wenger

The Arctic Circle itself is a platform created since 2013 around the future of the Arctic. Through democratic discussion and collaboration, the challenges the Arctic and its inhabitants are facing, should be addressed and resolved. The network was founded on the initiative of the then President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Annually since 2013, the various organizations, partners, countries and other stakeholders now meet in Reykjavik for this largest meeting for Arctic issues. Up to 2,000 participants from more than 60 countries came together for this event before the pandemic. With the meeting officially starting tomorrow, hopefully this will be achieved again soon. PolarJournal will definitely be there and will report about the meeting via its social media channels.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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