France at the Arctic Circle Assembly | Polarjournal
The Arctic Circle Assemblies are held in Reykjavik, but other forums are organised every year in different parts of the world. The next one will take place in Berlin. Image: The Arctic Circle

Erratum: Jérôme Chappellaz’s presence at the Arctic Circle Assembly is not due to his expertise in climate and glaciology, but rather to his knowledge of polar logistics and his thoughts on improving the environmental impact of research.

The Arctic Circle Assembly opens in Reykjavik for three days of discussions between those involved in sustainable development in the Arctic Circle. The presence of the French ambassador for the poles reinforces the launch of the One Polar Summit in Paris in November.

The Arctic Circle Assembly has just opened in Reykjavik and will end on Saturday. As every year since 2013, there will be one or two thousand participants from over sixty countries, and France will be represented by researchers, explorers and political figures.

France’s presence at this international forum is fairly small in relation to its polar ambitions. It will appear at five of the 200 or so meetings, conferences, round tables and plenary sessions. But the presence of the French ambassador for the poles reaffirms the commitment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Arctic and the poles.

This return follows the presentation of the French Polar Strategy by the current Ambassador for the Poles, Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, at the Arctic Forum in Brussels in 2021. It also follows the visit of former French President François Hollande in 2015 and the visit of former Polar Ambassador Ségolène Royale to the Arctic Circle Assembly in 2018.

Ségolène Royale, ex French ambassador to the poles, at the 2018 assembly. Image: The Arctic Circle

“It is interesting to see the presence of the French polar ambassador and to see what the political announcements will be,” notes Émilie Canova, a researcher at the University of Cambridge and a member of CNFRAA, the French polar knowledge society.

This morning she will be presenting the links between the European Union’s polar policy and that of France. She has been involved in polar affairs at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2015, and among other things she is studying the differences and connections between the various levels of European polar policy.

Emilie Canova attended the Arctic Circle Assembly as an auditor in 2021. Image: The Arctic Circle

On Saturday, Ambassador for the Poles Olivier Poivre d’Arvor will present the One Planet – Polar Summit, which will take place in Paris in November. He will be joined by Antje Boetius from the Alfred Wegener Institute for a plenary session. The aim of the summit is to bring the scientific findings on the collapse of the cryosphere to the attention of policy-makers and the general public.

The subject will also be addressed at the forum, but to a lesser extent as it is dedicated to the Arctic. Jérôme Chappellaz, glaciologist and climatologist at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne and director of research at the CNRS, will present the logistics of polar research and how to reduce its environmental footprint. He will be joined by political science experts from China, Japan and Sweden, to discuss the governance of the climate crisis.

The Arctic is also attracting attention for its resources. The development of the Arctic is at the heart of the discussions, and not without losing sight of the United Nations’ objectives, such as gender equality. Laurent Mayet, a high official in the French administration, will be presenting the Women of the Poles project with women explorers from the NGO Le Cercle Polaire.

“The history of exploration of the poles does not give prominence to women explorers, even today, despite the fact that there are many of them taking part”, he explains. Sailor Anne Quéméré will be among them, presenting her attempt to cross the North-West Passage in a kayak alone.

The forum brings together all the polar actors to discuss a wide range of issues, including energy, Indigenous issues and sustainable development. It also provides a means of expression for young people who are looking to this part of the world.

Camille Lin, PolarJournal

We’ll keep you informed during the event on our social networks and in a future article. If you’re particularly interested in a particular topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Here’s the full program for the Cercle Arctique Assembly.

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