Arctic Council: Sweden's Chairmanship 2011-2013
The Arctic Council is the cooperation forum of the Arctic states, in which they can work together for responsible development of the region. From 2011 until 2013, Sweden is chairing the Arctic Council and leading its work.
On 15 May 2013 approximately 300 people - ministers, delegates from the eight Arctic states, representatives of indigenous peoples, scientists and observers - will gather in Kiruna in the north of Sweden to mark the end of the two-year Swedish chairmanship and the beginning of the Canadian chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
About the Arctic Council
The participants are the five Nordic countries plus Canada, Russia and the United States, as well as representatives of the six organisations of indigenous peoples in the Arctic.
Interest in the Arctic has grown in recent years. The Arctic environment is unique and highly sensitive to disturbances. The region is heavily affected by ongoing climate change, technological development and increasing commercial activities.
Temperatures have already risen twice as quickly in the Arctic as elsewhere on Earth. Glaciers and sea ice are melting more extensively than in the past. While efforts must be made to slow the rapid changes, plant and animal life will have to adapt to new conditions.
As the ice withdraws, technological advances are creating opportunities to open transport routes across the Arctic Ocean and exploit the natural resources of the Arctic. These developments must be managed in a responsible and sustainable manner so that they benefit the region and do not lead to undesired side effects.
For the region's inhabitants, developments in the Arctic are a source of both challenges and opportunities. Climate change affects the cultures of the indigenous peoples and their traditional activities, such as reindeer husbandry, hunting and fishing. At the same time, the business community's increasing interest in Arctic areas is creating opportunities for economically more advantageous living conditions.
Despite substantial challenges, cooperation in the Arctic is characterised by a low level of conflict and broad consensus. As the country holding the chairmanship, Sweden wants to give priority to issues that will promote environmentally sustainable development of the Arctic, while making it possible to maintain positive cooperation between the Arctic states and with the indigenous peoples of the region. Activities and cooperation in the Arctic must be based on the rules of international law, including UN conventions and other international agreements.
The Arctic Council and its working groups should link their scientifically based reports to practical decision-making and policies. Sweden will also work to ensure that previously adopted recommendations are followed up. The Arctic Council should display the shared future vision of the Arctic states so as to consolidate the good cooperation in the region. Its work should be guided by openness and flexibility to enable it to address topical issues.
The Arctic Council web site
News about the Arctic Council
Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 15 May 2013Carl Bildt hosted Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna
Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 15 May 2013Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt hosts Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna
Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 15 May 2013Carl Bildt hosts Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna