Statsministerns inledning vid konferensen Arctic Frontiers 4 februari 2021
Dear Prime Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We leave a dark year behind us.
2020 will be remembered as a year of sickness and death,
of cancelled plans, of lost jobs and uncertainty,
all because of the pandemic.
A new year has now begun. Times are still difficult, but there is a spark of optimism because of the vaccines, like the northern lights when the winter night is at its darkest.
The pandemic is a brutal reminder of two things that are relevant for us in the Arctic countries.
First, the structural vulnerabilities of Arctic communities. Access to health care and digitalisation have proven to be essential for managing life during the pandemic. These two things are a weak point in many parts of the Arctic region. I hope that the pandemic will be a catalyst for new development in those areas.
Second, the pandemic has shown the importance of international cooperation. The Arctic countries cooperate for peaceful and sustainable development in the region.
We know that there are challenges facing the region.
And the eight member countries of the Arctic Council
have decided that we will meet these challenges together.
We have a shared responsibility for this region.
No one can say: “the Arctic region belongs to me.”
I hope that this new year will be a bright year for the Arctic region: for the people, for peace and for the climate.
We have presented a new Swedish Arctic strategy with those priorities: people, peace and climate. We have a broad approach and want to strengthen our long-term engagement for the region. The region’s major challenges are our shared burden: whether the climate crisis, sustainable development or regional security.
We must solve them together.
The consequences of climate change, especially the rising average temperature on the Arctic region are more severe than the on rest of the world.
Climate change is a global responsibility.
But it is the Arctic countries that must lead the way,
act faster and work towards carbon neutrality to ensure our region’s survival. The EU can also make significant contribution to Arctic cooperation. Especially on climate action.
United States President Joe Biden’s decision to re-join the Paris Agreement, and to re-engage on broader climate and Arctic issues, is a welcome development.
I hope to cooperate closely with the new US administration on Arctic issues.
Russia takes over as Chair of the Arctic Council later this year. I welcome this and hope that under the Russian chairmanship, we can continue to push for more sustainable economic recovery and a safer Arctic region in accordance with international law. We enjoy the constructive cooperation with Russia in the Arctic Council.
We see great possibilities for close Arctic cooperation with the new US administration, and between the United States and Russia, to the benefit of all Arctic countries and for security and stability in our region.
We must focus on the main objective of our cooperation: to keep the Arctic region a peaceful place, without tension between its members.
In a world that continues to change and surprise,
the Arctic region must remain a region of peace and stability, where international law is respected by all countries - at all times.
I hope for a bright year for the four million people living in the Arctic, and for the indigenous peoples’ interests and culture. This too, is our shared responsibility.
On behalf of Sweden, I would like to warmly thank Iceland for the successful chairmanship of the Arctic Council under very difficult circumstances.
I would like to thank Norway and Arctic Frontiers for organising this Conference.
Whatever this year may bring, our cooperation must continue to work for the people, peace and the climate of our great Arctic region.