Representatives of the eight Arctic States and six indigenous Permanent Participant organizations, as well as the Arctic Council’s six Working Groups and more than thirty Observers, met in Rovaniemi, Finland on November 1-2, 2018. This was the third Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting held during the Chairmanship of Finland (2017-2019).
The Council focused its thematic discussion on biodiversity in the Arctic and welcomed updates from the six Working Groups, two Task Forces, and one Expert Group, as well as interventions from Observers. During the biodiversity discussion Working Groups presented their ongoing efforts to advance biodiversity conservation, inform policy, and engage the public.
In addition, Iceland presented a preliminary plan for their upcoming Chairmanship program (2019-2021).
Ambassador Aleksi Härkönen, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials, said of the meeting: “We were pleased to bring the Arctic Council SAO meeting to Rovaniemi, where circumpolar Arctic cooperation started over 25 years ago. Enjoying the hospitality of the city of Rovaniemi and the University of Lapland, we conducted a meeting which gave us a comprehensive picture of the forward-looking work of the Arctic Council subsidiary bodies, including deliverables to the Ministerial meeting in May 2019.”
The Council also received progress reports from the six Working Groups and updates on the following:
- the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development held in New York in July 2018;
- the UArctic Congress held in Oulu and Helsinki in September 2018;
- the Arctic Resilience Forum held in Rovaniemi in September 2018;
- the Arctic Environment Ministers’ meeting held in Rovaniemi in October 2018;
- the Arctic Biodiversity Congress held in Rovaniemi in October 2018;
- the Second Arctic Science Ministerial meeting held in Berlin in October 2018; and
- the status of implementation of the scientific cooperation agreement signed in 2017.
On the second day of the meeting, the Council’s Observer States informed delegates on the Warsaw format meetings and a briefing was given by the Arctic Economic Council.
A Model Arctic Council event hosted by the University of Lapland also took place in Rovaniemi during the week of the SAO meeting.
The next Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting will take place in Ruka, Finland in March 2019. This meeting will be the last SAO Plenary meeting of the Finnish Chairmanship before the Chairmanship concludes with the high-level Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in May 2019.