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AAPC Leaders Applaud Formation of Arctic Economic Council

JUNEAU-On March 26, at the Senior Arctic Officials meeting in Yellowknife, the Arctic Council agreed to the creation of the Arctic Economic Council (AEC).

The AEC will strive to foster sustainable economic development (with an emphasis on participation from indigenous businesses) while protecting the Arctic environment; engage in more robust circumpolar cooperation; and, through periodic reports and proposals, provide a business perspective to the Arctic Council’s work.

The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission (AAPC) Co-Chairs Senator Lesil McGuire and Representative Bob Herron are supportive of the AEC’s creation.

“We congratulate Canada, and in particular Minister Leona Aglukkaq, as Chair of the Arctic Council, for achieving one of Canada’s key priorities during its Chairmanship: the creation of this Arctic Economic Council,” said Representative Bob Herron.

“We appreciate Canada’s efforts spearheading the creation of the AEC and look forward to working with the Council on economic development in Alaska and across the Arctic,” said Senator McGuire. “The perspectives from Industry and business are a valuable component to the tough policy decisions facing lawmakers regarding the Arctic. We will work with the federal government and Governor Parnell’s office to make sure that the state of Alaska is a full participant in the workings of the Council.”

The Kiruna Declaration, signed at the Arctic Council Meeting in May, 2013, stated that the Ministers representing the eight Arctic States: “recognize that Arctic economic endeavors are integral to sustainable development for peoples and communities in the region, desire to further enhance the work of the Arctic Council to promote dynamic and sustainable Arctic economies and best practices, and decide to establish a Task Force to facilitate the creation of a circumpolar business forum.” Since the Kiruna meeting, the Task Force to Facilitate the Circumpolar Business Forum (co-chaired by Canada, Finland, Iceland and Russia) held three in-person meetings (Sept 2013 Reykjavik, Iceland; October 2013 St Petersburg, Russia; and December 2013 Helsinki, Finland) to discuss the details of creating the AEC and agree on a framework document. Permanent Participant organizations, observer states and organizations have in the past voiced their support of the formation of the AEC.

“This could be an important milestone in the cooperative international efforts to sustainably development the pan-Arctic region”, said Rep. Bob Herron. “The AAPC will be paying close attention to the AEC as they pursue their mission – we’ll work with them and our U.S. Arctic Council Delegation to maximize the benefits to, and for, Alaskans.”

“I’m excited to see what proposals the AEC develops – we look forward to helping the AEC identify the best ways to foster economic development in Alaska’s Arctic,” said Senator McGuire.

Arctic States and Permanent Participant (PP) organizations can nominate up to three representatives to attend the AEC’s founding meeting. Alaska has strong leadership from the 4 PPs with membership in the state, so there will be a great opportunity for Alaskan representation.

The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission is tasked with creating an Arctic Policy for Alaska and will work toward this goal through January 2015. The AAPC's preliminary report is available for public comment at www.akarctic.com. The commission will meet next in Anchorage on May 6 to 7, 2014.

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