The North American Arctic (NAA) is a distinct subregion of the Arctic, with vast territories, extreme environmental conditions, small and remote communities, complex governance and significant resource constraints. There is an urgent need for stronger east-to-west cooperation among regional and national governments, Indigenous organizations, business, academia and other stakeholders to build the region’s prosperity.

In February 2018, working closely with the Labrador North and Baffin Regional Chambers of Commerce, the Centre for International Governance Innovation hosted the “CIGI Summit of North American Arctic Leaders” — two special panel discussions exploring ways to foster this cooperation and strengthen dialogue among stakeholders. These panels occurred during the Northern Lights 2018 Business and Cultural Showcase, a four-day event in Ottawa bringing together more than 1,200 participants from across the country and around the world. The first panel featured the political leadership of the NAA; the second brought together experts in marine development and infrastructure.

This conference report describes the summit’s key themes, priorities and takeaways.

  • John Higginbotham is a senior fellow at CIGI and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa. John’s research focuses on Arctic economic and governance development and international relations, Canada’s ties with the United States and China in global context and North American Arctic marine transportation as the Arctic Ocean melts.

  • 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.