In April 2015, the United States will assume the chairmanship of the Arctic Council, and its focus on climate change must be complemented by efforts to further advance sustainable economic development. The credibility and relevance of the Arctic Council is at stake — leadership is needed to establish a long-term vision, strengthen the council’s governance model and work with all stakeholders to tackle the substantial policy challenges that the region faces. This policy brief suggests that as the United States works with members, permanent participants and others to finalize its chairmanship program, it is important to emphasize that the choices made now will have an impact on the future direction of the Arctic Council and the role that it is positioned to play. If the Arctic Council is truly going to fulfill the leadership role that it has been assigned in the court of public opinion, serious effort must be placed in advancing a strategic discussion about a vision for the Arctic region and the role that the council can play to achieve it.
Jennifer Spence is a CIGI fellow since 2017. An expert in Arctic and international governance and public policy, Jennifer will focus on the Arctic program at CIGI with a particular focus on infrastructure, transportation, local and regional development, and strengthened domestic and regional governance.