On May 11 and 12, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton participated in the Seventh Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council, in Nuuk, Greenland. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Kerri-Ann Jones accompanied Secretary Clinton to the meeting.
The United States recognizes and values the Arctic Council as the preeminent forum for international cooperation in the Arctic. Reflecting the importance of Arctic issues, Secretary Clinton’s participation in Nuuk marked the first time that a Secretary of State has attended an Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting.
This historic meeting achieved several important outcomes:
First, Arctic Council members signed a Search and Rescue Agreement, the first legally-binding instrument negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council. A Fact Sheet on the Agreement is forthcoming.
Second, the Arctic Council augmented its organizational structure by forming a standing Secretariat, to be based in Tromsø, Norway, and by establishing criteria for the admission of new observers to the Council.
Third, the Arctic Council announced the results of two important scientific studies: an assessment on Snow, Water, Ice, and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA), and a report on the warming effects on the Arctic climate of Short-Lived Climate Forcers (SLCFs) like soot (black carbon) and methane. The latter report proposes measures the eight Arctic countries can take to limit their emissions. The United States recognizes that robust polar science cooperation is crucial to our ability to formulate useful policies for the region, and encourages the Arctic countries to take steps commensurate with the gravity of the reports’ findings. Two Fact Sheets on the studies are forthcoming.
Finally, the Council also announced the formation of a new task force that will negotiate measures for oil spill preparedness and response throughout the region. The decision to launch these negotiations is evidence of our commitment to proactively address emerging issues in the region.
The United States’ cooperation through the Arctic Council is a key to responding to the climate, societal and economic changes occurring in the Arctic today.
For a full set of transcripts from the trip, click here.