Arctic Council and Northern Forum Chairs
August 16, 2003
Governor Frank H. Murkowski said, "Both the Institute of the North and Commonwealth North have invited President Grimsson to address Alaska. I welcome him to our state and commend him for his leadership in the Arctic, especially with the Northern Research Forum. I see strong potential cooperation between Iceland and Alaska in areas as diverse as energy and fisheries development."
While in Anchorage, the President will meet with the Alaska Congressional Delegation, Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, legislators and members of Governor Murkowski's cabinet to discuss cooperation in the Arctic. He will be joined by Finland's Governor of Lapland, Hannele Pokka, who is chairman of the Northern Forum, an organization of regional governments in the North with Secretariat based in Anchorage, and Ambassador Gunnar Pálsson, Icelandic Chairman of the eight-nation Arctic Council. Former Alaska Governor and Northern Forum Secretary-General Walter J. Hickel is also hosting the visit.
President Grímsson will address a conference on management of commonly owned resources in the Arctic on Monday August 18, sponsored by the International Association for the Study of Common Property, Alaska Pacific University's Institute of the North, and the Northern Forum. That day, he and his wife, Dorrit Moussaieff will attend a gala dinner hosted by the Institute of the North where former Governor Wally Hickel's 84th birthday will be celebrated and authors of Alaska's constitution will be recognized. He will address Commonwealth North on Tuesday morning, August 19. Meetings arranged by the State of Alaska with Alaska native and other Arctic leaders, fishing, energy and transportation interests will also take place during the President's visit.
During a two-year period, which ends in 2004, Iceland holds the chairmanship of the eight-nation Arctic Council. Through this body and the Northern Forum, the State of Alaska and the U.S. have pursued a reduction of contaminants in the Arctic, increased cooperation in wildlife management, coastal protection, and emergency prevention and response. New efforts on sustainable development in the Arctic focus on tourism, telemedicine, reindeer husbandry, and expanding circumpolar air and sea routes, including the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage. Both the Northern Forum and the Arctic Council have sought further research on the Arctic and global climate change, with efforts based at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Three international indigenous groups represent Alaska Natives as Permanent Participants in the Arctic Council.
President Grímsson's delegation includes business leaders representing Icelandic international cargo and passenger airlines, shipping companies, banks and geothermal energy. The group plans to cross the Bering Strait to visit the closest Russian region to Alaska, Northern Forum member Chukotka as guests of Governor Roman Abramovich. They will return through Alaska to Iceland next weekend.
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