Future of the Arctic; Observer engagement and contribution

Organizing body: Korea Arctic Research Consortium (KoARC) 5. September 2017

The rapid melting of the perennially ice-covered Arctic means not only an increase in its accessibility but the opening of a new space where cooperation, rather than competition, becomes essential. With the Arctic experiencing unprecedented, high-paced changes, the challenges that accompany such transitions require not simply a regional response but a global one. A recognition of this need was also demonstrated by the Arctic Council when it granted a number of non-Arctic states observer status in 2013.

Saturday, October 14, 16:00 - 17:30
Location: Flói, Ground Level

In the last four years since then, involvement of non-traditional actors, particularly from observer states, has become substantial, which has growingly attracted interest and discussion. Some of the recent initiatives by the Arctic Council can be platforms where the efforts of observer states can be incorporated, such as the ‘Scientific Cooperation Agreement’ that was signed at the time of writing this proposal. Further systematic ways, however, to assimilate the interests and endeavors of observers in and for the Arctic deserve serious consideration.
We hope this break-out session will be an opportunity for stakeholders with different perspectives to examine the current status of the integration of observers and to put up a table for an exchange of ideas further onwards.
The session will begin with brief presentations on ‘outlining ongoing, mostly research, activities by observer states, with perspectives and suggestions from long-established Arctic players’.
Afterwards, a discussion will follow on how to ‘improve observer contribution in a more structured fashion and to explore possible projects for easier participation and greater output’.
The breakout session is proposed by Korea Arctic Research Consortium and organized with contributions from many more partners.


  • Hyoung Chul Shin, Director, Division of Strategy and Cooperation, Korean Arctic Research Consortium: Opportunities for observer contribution to the Arctic Community with a sample case of the Korean road map
  • Nicole Biebow, EU-Polar Net; International Cooperation Unit, Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI): Arctic science cooperation and recent moves; European perspective
  • Timo Koivurova, Director and Research Professor, Arctic Center, University of Lapland: How to improve the observer participation system in the Arctic Council
  • Jan Rene Larsen, Secretary, Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON); Deputy Executive Secretary, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP): Observer cooperation and contribution; AMAP and SAON viewpoint