Arctic Council adopts first strategic plan for next 10 years
 updatetime:2021-05-21 10:58:08   Views:0 Source:xinhua

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Representatives pose for a group photo after the 12th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, on May 20, 2021. Foreign ministers of the eight-member Arctic Council adopted on Thursday a first 10-year strategic plan for the region, in addition to the signing of a Reykjavik Declaration, to mark the Council's 25th anniversary. (Gunnar Vigfusson/Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs/Handout via Xinhua)

HELSINKI, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Foreign ministers of the eight-member Arctic Council adopted on Thursday a first 10-year strategic plan for the region, in addition to the signing of a Reykjavik Declaration, to mark the Council's 25th anniversary.

The plan reflects the shared values and joint aspirations of the Arctic States and the Permanent Participants, to advance sustainable development, environmental protection, and good governance in the Arctic, said the Council.

The declaration, which was another major outcome of the 12th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, restored the position of climate change concerns in the agenda of the Council.

This year's meeting saw a return to the commitment of sustainable development and to the necessity of cooperation between the states and peoples of the region, said Finnish analyst Markku Siira.

The 11th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting held in Rovaniemi of northern Finland, in 2019, failed to formulate a customary joint declaration due to disparities over climate change between the United States and other Arctic Council member countries.

Thursday's meeting was the first to be hosted in-person, under the auspices of the Arctic Council, since the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to gatherings in early 2020.

Owing to the situation, the meeting was held in reduced format, with foreign ministers from the eight Arctic States and representatives of the Indigenous Permanent Participants on-site in Reykjavik and the majority of delegates joining the meeting through an online platform.

It also marked the end of the two-year Icelandic chairmanship of the Arctic Council and the beginning of the Russian chairmanship for the 2021-2023 period.

Describing the results, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the participants have all repeated "their commitment to peace, stability, and co-operation in high latitudes, and defined the main areas of promotion of international co-operation in the Arctic region."

As the new chair, Russia will highlight sustainable development throughout its chairmanship. Russia planned to maintain a strong focus on the people of the Arctic - including enhanced efforts towards promoting indigenous cultures and languages, the Arctic environment and sustainable economic development, according to the Council's press release.

A high degree of multilateral activity is needed to safeguard the environment and promote sustainable development in the Arctic region. Such cooperation can also keep this geopolitically and geo-economically important region secure and stable, said Siira.

Also, permanent members and participants of the Council should find ways to engage more productively with the observer states, such as China, which is a "near-Arctic state" in its own right, he added.

The Arctic Council is the pre-eminent intergovernmental forum for cooperation on Arctic affairs. The Council's Ministerial meeting is held every two years, giving the foreign ministers of the eight Arctic States and the political leadership of the six Indigenous Permanent Participants the opportunity to strengthen international cooperation in the region.

The Council includes Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. China gained observer status to the Council in 2013.

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