The Arctic – a hot issue in Beijing

To celebrate the Arctic Council’s 20-year jubilee this year the Royal Norwegian embassy in Beijing arranged an Arctic Seminar event in Beijing on December 6. The seminar, titled «Arctic Explorers of Today», featured three prominent polar experts from Norway and USA and marked the launch of the Chinese translation of Norway’s Arctic Strategy policy paper.Crowd participation was both great and varied with more than 120 audience members.

Ambassador Svein Ole Sæther opened the evening’s event with a welcome speech on Norway’s role in the polar areas and the importance of international collaboration on climate change. The main speakers were Jan-Gunner Winther from the Norwegian Polar Institute, the China Council and the Arctic Council, and the two polar explorers Liv Arnesen from Norway and Ann Bancroft from the USA.

Jan-Gunnar Winther gave a talk about Norway’s polar history and explorers Nansen and Amundsen. He also shared the incredible story of Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole in 1911, drawing parallels to his own Antarctic expedition in 2011. The crew followed in Amundsen’s “ski trails”, heading north from the Bay of Whales, arriving at the South Pole at ten minutes to midnight on the 14th of December, exactly 100 years after Amundsen.

The talk by Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen put climate change on the agenda. They held a joint presentation on their own abundant experiences as guides and polar explorers to both the South- and North Pole, among which includes their joint, first-ever female transcontinental crossing of the Antarctic, completed in 2001. Using pictures from their own expeditions they were able to show how they have themselves experienced the natural environment of the poles change drastically over the course of the last few years. The talk concluded with a presentation on their worldwide education initiative «Access Water», which aims to increase environmental awareness among youths through water-borne projects.

After the talks followed a Q&A, with very enthusiastic crowd participation. Upon addressing the panel, one audience member gave the following feedback on the seminar:

« Events like these make Norway stand out amongst the Nordic countries. »

The event unveiled that there is widespread enthusiasm in China for the Arctic and Antarctic topics. 

 


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