International scientific co-operation in the Arctic is important to the region, and its importance is reflected in existing robust co-operation. In 2018, the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Co-operation (Science Agreement) came into effect. This Agreement aimed to improve access for scientists to the Arctic region and to promote scientific co-operation. On one hand, this Agreement was ground-breaking, as it was the first agreement ascribing legal obligations onto states to promote scientific co-operation in the entirety of the Arctic region. On the other hand, the text of the Agreement gives significant deference to states to implement their policies. Preliminary efforts at implementing the Agreement reflects a diversity of ambition. As a result, the potential of the Agreement to enhance international scientific co-operation is uncertain as the Agreement depends substantially on individual states’ interest.
Growing interest in the Arctic Council amongst scholars and educators has recently stimulated a number of Model Arctic Councils (MACs). MACs are pedagogical simulations in which participants play the role of delegate to a cycle of Arctic Council meetings. MACs are normally aimed at university students, particularly postgraduates and advanced undergraduates, but since 2016 I have developed and launched two MACs at secondary schools in the UK and Spain: Norwich MAC (NORMAC) and MAC Bilbao. In this paper, I describe how these MACs work, and I discuss challenges to running secondary-school MACs, including attracting participants, assisting with preparatory research and consensus building, balancing realism with creative learning, and sustaining interest in the Arctic. I highlight differences with university MACs, as well as deviations from actual Arctic Council procedures designed to accommodate secondary-school pupils. I also evaluate data from surveys of delegates to four MAC conferences over two years: NORMAC 2018 and 2019, and MAC Bilbao 2018 and 2019. These data show that both MACs are meeting their educational objectives of raising awareness and understanding of the Arctic amongst secondary-school pupils; inspiring them to learn more about the region, its peoples and its challenges; and helping develop their skills in public speaking, negotiation and consensus building. I conclude with a brief discussion of future plans for secondary-school MACs.
The University of Lapland Model Arctic Council was held from 29 October to 2 November 2018 in Rovaniemi, Finland, during the second rotating Finnish Arctic Council Chairmanship. Fifty-one students from 13 countries and 32 universities took part in this international Arctic Council simulation. The MAC was hosted by the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi and led by Professor Lassi Heininen. The simulation was an official activity of the Finnish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council 2017−2019 run by the Finnish Foreign Ministry. The event was financially supported by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. It was a collaborative effort continuing the work of the Thematic Network on Model Arctic Council led by Professors Mary Ehrlander and Brandon Boylan of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UArctic, n.d.).
May 2019 witnessed a ‘super week’ in the Arctic. I name it a super week on Arctic affairs (or the Arctic Super Week) due to the intensity of several international meetings and gatherings on the Arctic in Finland and China, and big interest towards the Arctic, in particular the Arctic Council, by international media, which was revealed during the week. It started by the Welcome Reception on the occasion of the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting (hosted by Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini and the Mayor of the City of Rovaniemi Mr. Esko Lotvonen) at 6 pm on 6 May 2019 at Lappia Hall in Rovaniemi, Finland; or, actually two hours before the speech of US State Secretary Michael R. Pompeo in Rovaniemi. The Arctic Super Week ended by the Closing Plenary Session at Arctic Circle China Forum at 6 pm on 11 May in Shanghai, China. In between, there were the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting on 7 May in Rovaniemi, and two international conferences on the Arctic in Shanghai: 7th China – Nordic Arctic Cooperation Symposium (7-9 May) and the Arctic Circle China Forum (10-11 May).
Tahseen Jafry, Michael Mikulewicz & Sennan Mattar
Historically, Scotland and the Arctic have been connected by social and cultural ties. More recently, mainly through trade and tourism, economic links have flourished. Some of this is underpinned by the expanding number of scientific and academic partnerships that have developed between Scotland and its Arctic neighbours. Scotland is also excelling in technological innovation to tackle climate change and in environmental protection. There is no doubt that Scotland has considerable expertise across many sectors and is well placed as a valuable partner in Arctic matters. The development of Arctic Connections - Scottish Government’s Arctic Policy Framework is demonstration of the significance placed on Scottish-Arctic issues in Scotland. This briefing note provides an insight into the mapping exercise carried out for the purposes of the Scottish Government’s Arctic Policy Framework, highlighting key Scottish Arctic relationships, pointing to Scottish strengths across sectors and exploring avenues for even closer cooperation.