Rising temperature is the main driver of change in the Arctic. It means that areas of the Arctic Ocean that were formerly inaccessible to humans are opening for increased traffic. This endangers the Arctic’s fragile land and marine ecosystems and threatens the way of life of the indigenous people living there. At the same time, as the ice melts, interest in the Arctic’s fossil fuel and mineral deposits is increasing pressure on the Arctic states that control these resources to allow access to them.
On May 19, members of the Arctic Council, a high-level forum of the eight nations that border the Arctic, and representatives of indigenous peoples who live in the region, met and approved a joint declaration, and the Council’s first-ever strategic plan for the Arctic.
The Document’s emphasis on maintaining peace, stability, and constructive cooperation in the Arctic region dovetails with United States’ priorities in the Arctic, said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
"We’re committed to advancing a peaceful Arctic region where cooperation prevails on climate, the environment, science and safety, and where sustainable economic development benefits the people of the region themselves.”
Indeed, the United States has a number of priorities when it comes to the Arctic region.
One is effective governance and the rule of law to ensure that the Arctic remains a region free of conflict, where countries act responsibly. Another is stopping COVID-19 and making sure that we’re better prepared for future global health emergencies.”
" Another priority, of course, … is the climate crisis,” said Secretary Blinken.
“The Arctic, as others have noted, is warming at three times the global average, which adds even greater urgency to our efforts. Reducing emissions of black carbon and methane is particularly important.”
“In addition to climate, we need to protect the environment of the Arctic.”
“The United States intends to provide up to a million dollars to support the council’s climate environmental protection work, and we’ll work with and notify Congress of our intent.”
“The Arctic as a region for strategic competition has seized the world’s attention, but the Arctic is more than a strategically or economically significant region,” said Secretary Blinken. “It’s home to our people. Its hallmark has been and must remain peaceful cooperation. It’s our responsibility to protect that peaceful cooperation and to build on it as neighbors and as partners.”