The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses primarily environmental protection and sustainable development issues in the Arctic region. The eight founding nations (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States) of the 1991 Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy comprise the Member States of the Arctic Council. Six Arctic indigenous groups hold Permanent Participant status, and a number of other countries and organizations are accredited observers. The Council meets every two years at the Ministerial level to coordinate Council activities and oversee the work of the six working groups. Senior Arctic Officials from each member state meet more frequently to oversee Council operations between Ministerial meetings. The Arctic Council website includes general information about the Council and its activities, projects, and upcoming events, as well as archives of Council documents and links to the working group websites.
The United States participates in the Arctic Council under the leadership of the Department of State. Many other agencies, including the Departments of Interior, Energy, Commerce (NOAA), Transportation (FAA), and Homeland Security (Coast Guard), the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Arctic Research Commission, and the State of Alaska support or actively participate in the Arctic Council’s work.
The United States actively seeks to promote the viability and socioeconomic well being of Arctic communities and supports scientific research and international cooperation in achieving these goals. The United States is committed to working with its partners in the Arctic Council to advance shared objectives and looks forward to its 2015-17 Chairmanship.