White Space, Blue Future. Arctic Frontiers Conference in Tromsø 22 – 27 January 2017

The annual Arctic Frontiers conference took place in Tromsø for the 11th time this January. A key topic this year was sustainable management of the vast Arctic oceans. Chinese high-level officials, researchers, businesspeople and media representatives took part in the conference.

 

Arctic Frontiers is an international arena on sustainable development in the Arctic. The conference addresses the management of opportunities and challenges to achieve viable economic growth with societal and environmental sustainability. It brings academia, government and business together to create a firmer foundation for decision-making and sustainable economic development in the Arctic.

The title of the 2017 edition was White Space – Blue Future. As the climate gets warmer, new areas of ocean in the Arctic become accessible. This has resulted in an increased attention from scientists, businesses and states, both arctic and non-arctic. The conference discussed gaps in our knowledge about the Arctic oceans and the role these will play in the future.

As Prime Minister Erna Solberg pointed out in her opening speech, we must seek a balance between protecting the vulnerable Arctic environment and making use of the economic opportunities that are opening up, to the benefit of the 4 million people living there. The oceans is a keyword here: in order to feed the rising world population, we will need healthy and productive oceans. This requires that we find a balance between sustainable use and the protection of living marine resources.

Over 2000 delegates from more than 30 countries attended the conference, which is a record number. The delegates came from governments, academia, businesses and NGOs as well as media.

Global interest in the Arctic

The Arctic is not only a matter of concern for the Arctic states. A sentence often repeated at the conference was; “what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic”. This refers to, among others, that the climate changes taking place in the Arctic will affect the whole world. It also refers to the need for peaceful cooperation, as stability in the Arctic can be a major contribution to global peace. In a conference session titled The Arctic in a global context, Foreign Minister Børge Brende shared his hope for making the Arctic a global model for sustainable growth - based on knowledge, cooperation and respect for international law.

China is among the countries showing increased interest in the Arctic, and a high number of Chinese delegates attended the Arctic Frontiers this year. The Norwegian Embassy in Beijing and the Consulates General in Shanghai and Guangzhou invited scholars on Arctic studies as well as journalists from The Paper, CBN, Sanlian Life Weekly, Business Ecology and Shenzhen TV to join the conference and attend discussions and meetings together with participants from all over the world.

Chinese scholars and media representatives met with Ms Anniken Krutnes, Norway’s Arctic Ambassador, and Jan Gunnar Winther, director of the Norwegian Polar Institute (see picture), for a discussion on Norway’s arctic policies and other matters of common interest.

Links

For more information, see http://www.arcticfrontiers.com

For a list of keynote speakers at the conference, see http://www.arcticfrontiers.com/speaker/

Click here to read Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s speech.

Click here to read Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende’s speech.

Chinese media coverage

 


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