"Together towards a sustainable Arctic"

                  Iceland´s Chairmanship
           of the Arctic Council 2019-2021

                                           5 June 2019
                                       Berlin, Germany



Passing of the Presidency of the Arctic Council to Iceland

In May 2019, the Chair of the Arctic Council was transferred from Finland to Iceland. To inform the German Arctic interested parties, the Arctic Office of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, has organized a symposium with the Finnish and Icelandic embassies and the Foreign Office.

The special seminar dealt with the handover of the Chairmanship, the continuity between the two Chairmen and the priorities of the Icelandic Chairmanship Program of the Arctic Council "Together Towards a Sustainable Arctic". Iceland will chair the Arctic Council of Finland for a term of two years from 2019 to 2021.

The event was organized by Dr. Volker Rachold, head of the German Arctic Offices at AWI and Icelandic Ambassador Martin Eyjólfsson in front of about 80 invited guests. Following speeches by Finnish Arctic Commissioner René Söderman and acting Chairman of the Arctic Council, Einar Gunnarsson, a panel discussion on sustainability in the Arctic, youth participation in Arctic activities and the current presidency program were discussed with the audience. It was also emphasized the importance that the Arctic must be preserved as a "low-retention area".

AWI Director Prof. Antje Boetius, Einar Gunnarsson, René Söderman, Carsten Rüpke of the Federal Foreign Office, and Julia Wright, Arctic Youth Ambassador, were involved in the discussion. The seminar ended with concluding remarks by Finnish Ambassador Anne Sipiläinen.

Arctic Council

The Arctic Council was established in 1996. Members are the eight Arctic States Canada, Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States of America. The Arctic Council is the leading inter-state forum for the Arctic and promotes cooperation between riparian, indigenous and other Arctic communities, particularly with regard to sustainable development and environmental protection in the region. The chairmanship of the Arctic Council changes every two years within the riparian states.

Further information on the Arctic Council can be found on the related Fact Sheet.

The overarching theme of the recent Icelandic Chairmanship of the Arctic Council is sustainable development and the priority areas include:

  • Arctic Marine Environment
  • Climate and Green Energy Solutions
  • People in the Arctic
  • Stronger Arctic Council