Addressing climate change is a key priority for the Obama administration, and so it is no surprise that U.S. global leadership on climate extends to one of the most fragile regions in the world – the Arctic. As the new chair of the Arctic Council, the United States has made cooperation to reduce emissions, protection of communities from the impacts of climate change, and the building of foundational climate science key pillars of its agenda.
“Every nation that cares about the future of the Arctic has to be a leader in taking and urging others to move forward with bold initiatives and immediate, ambitious steps to curb the impact of greenhouse gases,” said Secretary of State John Kerry at a reception for the Arctic Council that he recently hosted in Washington, DC.
The Arctic Council has a responsibility to the people who live in the region. “As beautiful as it is, it is not just a picturesque landscape. It’s a home. It’s a lifestyle,” said Secretary of State Kerry. “Our priorities include Arctic Ocean safety, security, and stewardship.”
This includes improving economic and living conditions of the inhabitants of Arctic communities. “That is a critical concern – indigenous population and what development or changes in the environment might do to those folks,” said Mr. Kerry:
“Over the next years, we’re going to focus on the well-being of the indigenous communities, and we’re going to take into account that the melting of the ice is now opening up the possibilities of a great deal more commercial traffic, a great deal more tourism – eco-tourism or otherwise – and a great deal more shipping, fishing, and commercial operations, particularly possibility of extraction of minerals from the ocean.”
“We want a region where people can live with hope and optimism for the future, where strong measures are being taken to mitigate environmental harm, where natural resources are managed effectively and sustainably, and where the challenges of economic development and social cohesion are being addressed in a creative, sensitive, responsible way,” said Secretary of State Kerry.
“Above all, we want a region where every stakeholder has a voice and a role in making the idea of one Arctic a reality.”