Canada's Arctic Council Chairmanship 2013-2015

Canada's Arctic Council Chairmanship

Welcome to Canada’s North

Canadians were pleased to welcome meetings of the Arctic Council to our North over the course of our two year Chairmanship.

We highlighted Canada’s dynamic and vibrant North and showcased its peoples, cultures and stories.

To read more about the start of Canada’s Arctic Council Chairmanship, please see: Development for the People of the North: The Arctic Council Program during Canada’s Chairmanship (2013-15) - PDF 1.25 MB

Canada's chairmanship

The Arctic Council was established in 1996, with Canada serving as its first chair. Canada assumed its second term as chair from 2013 to 2015.

Development for the people of the North

More than four million people, living in the eight Arctic states that make up the Arctic Council, call the Arctic region home.

Canada’s chairmanship will put Northerners first.

The theme of Canada’s chairmanship is “development for the people of the North,” with a focus on responsible Arctic resource development, safe Arctic shipping and sustainable circumpolar communities.

Strengthening the Arctic Council

Since its inception, the Council has undertaken important work to address the unique challenges and opportunities facing the Arctic region. As these challenges evolve, so must the Arctic Council.

Canada will work collaboratively with its Arctic Council partners to strengthen the Council. The aim is to enhance the capacity of the Permanent Participant organizations, improve the Council’s coordination and maximize efficiencies.

Highlights of the Arctic Council Program (2013-15)

Canada’s commitment to the North and its people is part of our national identity. Canada played a key role in the origin of the Arctic Council, which was established by the 1996 Ottawa Declaration. Canada was the first Chair of the Arctic Council, and hosted the first Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Iqaluit in 1998. Arctic Council Ministers returned to Iqaluit in April 2015, marking the conclusion of Canada’s second term as Chair.

Under Canada’s Chairmanship (2013-2015), the Council has focused on making a difference in the lives of the people of the North, reflecting the Ottawa Declaration’s commitment to economic and social development and environmental protection.

The Council’s key outcomes during Canada’s two-year term as Chair included:

  • Setting a course to more consistently use traditional and local knowledge of Arctic communities in the work of the Council;
  • Sharing best practices to improve mental wellness, particularly among youth, for the benefit of Arctic communities;
  • Creating the Arctic Economic Council to promote business, trade and investment opportunities in the region;
  • Developing a framework for action to help reduce climate pollutants, such as black carbon and methane; and,
  • Developing an action plan to prevent marine-oil pollution in the Arctic.

Promoting Economic and Social Development

Canada’s Chairmanship has worked to support economic prosperity in the region, recognizing that business is essential to support residents and create sustainable communities. It has also supported Arctic indigenous peoples as they continue to adapt to changing social, economic, cultural and environmental conditions.

Accomplishments in this area include:

  • The Arctic Council worked with indigenous communities and health professionals to identify successful approaches to improve mental wellness. Results of this project were shared at the Circumpolar Mental Wellness Symposium held in Iqaluit in March, 2015. By promoting mental wellness under Canada’s Chairmanship, the Council has helped Arctic residents to adapt and thrive and find solutions that reflect indigenous cultures and values.
  • The Arctic Council has created a collection of written and visual examples showcasing how the traditional ways of life of Arctic indigenous peoples can co-exist with modern ways to support healthy communities. Promoting these traditional ways of life will help encourage better decision-making by those outside the region and support resilient, rich and vibrant cultures.
  • The Arctic Council developed recommendations to more consistently use traditional and local knowledge in the work of the Council. Including such knowledge leads to better results in the Council’s important development and environment-related initiatives.
  • The Arctic Council created the Arctic Economic Council (AEC), an independent Arctic-to-Arctic business forum promoting business opportunities, trade and investment, to help develop an economically vibrant future for the region. The AEC was launched in September 2014 in Iqaluit and will bring a circumpolar business perspective to the work of the Arctic Council.
  • The Arctic Council developed guidelines for sustainable marine-based tourism and safer cruise-ship operations in the Arctic. The Arctic Marine Tourism Project (AMTP) - Best Practice Guidelines encourage the benefits that tourism brings to Arctic communities while mitigating the risks associated with increased activity.

Protecting the Environment

During Canada’s Chairmanship, progress has been made to protect the environment and help Arctic peoples and communities adapt to a changing climate.

Achievements include:

  • The Arctic Council developed a results-oriented Framework for Action on black carbon and methane emissions in the Arctic. This achievement shows leadership nationally, regionally and globally by addressing short-lived climate pollutants that warm the Arctic and harm the air quality and the health of Arctic residents. The Framework for Action on Enhanced Black Carbon and Methane Emissions Reductions builds on the Council’s ongoing scientific assessment work in this area.
  • The Arctic Council launched an interactive website on climate change adaptation to make it easier for Arctic residents, researchers and decision-makers to share information, develop tools and exchange best practices on what Arctic communities are doing to adapt to a changing climate.
  • The Arctic Council developed a Framework Plan for regulatory cooperation in the petroleum and shipping industries to prevent marine oil pollution that could arise as a result of increased activity in Arctic waters.
  • The Framework Plan for Cooperation on Prevention of Oil Pollution from Petroleum and Maritime Activities in the Marine Areas of the Arctic helps protect the environment and the local economy, and safeguards traditional livelihoods and ways of life.
  • The Arctic Council developed an Action Plan with Arctic and non-Arctic countries to protect migratory birds along key flight paths. The Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative is a long-term Arctic biodiversity conservation project that recognizes the importance of migratory birds to the ecosystem, as well as to the traditional ways of life of many indigenous communities.
  • Since its inception, the Arctic Council has sought to expand scientific c understanding and cooperation to improve environmental protection, and promote sustainable development and good governance in the Arctic. Over the past two years, several key areas of cooperation were identified to enhance scientific c cooperation among the Arctic states, including data sharing and facilitating the movement of people and equipment across borders. The important role of traditional knowledge in scientific research was also re-affirmed.

Download a brochure version of this page:

Iqaluit 2015: Development for the People of the North. Results achieved during Canada’s Arctic Council Chairmanship (2013-15) - PDF 6 MB