Aglukkaq delivers farewell speech to Arctic Council, says people come first
“We must continue to support the economic and social development and environmental protection of our Arctic peoples”
“I am proud Canada has advocated putting Northerners at the forefront of the Arctic Council agenda.”
That’s how Leona Aglukkaq, Nunavut MP and Canada’s minister for the Arctic Council, started off her address to ministers gathered in the Nunavut legislature in Iqaluit April 24.
“No one knows better than the people who live here how to survive and thrive in the Arctic environment — this land of intense cold, strong winds, and darkness we face much of the year,” said Aglukkaq, mentioning what an honour it was “as an Inuk, to be the first Arctic indigenous person to serve as Chair of the Arctic Council.”
That’s why the Arctic Council’s theme under Canada’s chairmanship was “Development for the People of the North,” she said.
Under Canada’s two-year chairmanship, which started in Kiruna, Sweden in 2013, the eight member states developed recommendations to use more consistently traditional and local knowledge in the work of the Arctic Council, she said.
Canada had increased the capacity of the permanent participant organizations to contribute to the Council, engaged youth, and helped to get the Arctic Council Secretariat up and running.
She said the Arctic Council has also strengthened transparency and accountability by creating the Amarok: Arctic Council Tracker, to be launched April 24.
“This will allow Northerners to better understand what the Arctic Council is doing and hold it accountable for its commitments,” she said.
Aglukkaq also mentioned the Arctic Economic Council, launched in Iqaluit in September 2014.
The Arctic Economic Counci; provides a mechanism for businesses to learn from each other and share best practices, standards and innovative solutions to promote responsible development in the Arctic, she said.
“Additionally — and this will be key to its success Arctic indigenous peoples are well represented on the AEC. This will ensure that those living in the Arctic will have control over decisions affecting their communities and their future.”
Aglukkaq also said that under the Canadian chairmanship, the Arctic Council worked with Arctic communities and health professionals to identify successful approaches that can be shared across the region to improve mental wellness.
“And we’ve ensured that these approaches reflect indigenous cultures, values and realities.”
During Canada’s chairmanship, the Council has also shown leadership by addressing short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon (soot) and methane.
“Taking action on this will see both important health and climate outcomes. The outcome is a Framework for Action, which will support all Arctic states as we move to reduce these pollutants,” she said.
The agreement is a non-binding arrangement, but includes reporting requirements and the formation of an expert group.
Aglukkaq also mentioned an online portal on climate change adaptation so that Arctic residents can share information and best practices on how to respond to a changing climate.
“We must continue to support the economic and social development and environmental protection of our Arctic peoples. By balancing these pillars we will be able to improve the lives of Northerners — their interests, their well-being and their prosperity,” she said.
Among the actions ahead the Arctic Council plans to :
• update the 2011 report on snow, water, ice and permafrost;
• act on the 2013 assessment of ocean acidification; and,
• protect Arctic biodiversity, looking ahead to 2021.
If you’re interested on seeing some of the many documents that were approved April 24, look here.