Asian cooperation in the Arctic has been on the rise, with China’s new Arctic policy released earlier this year, the announcement of Japan to co-host the next Arctic Science Ministerial in 2020, and Korea heavily investing in Arctic research and research infrastructure – just to name a few examples. To discuss these developments, an Arctic Circle Forum was held in Seoul, South Korea on 7-8 December 2018.
Convened by former President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson, keynote speakers included former Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon and Ambassador of Arctic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iceland Einar Gunnarsson. Speakers and discussion panels focused on “Arctic Science: Serving Arctic and Global Needs”, “Arctic Innovation: Connectivity, Energy, Shipping, and Infrastructure”, “The Future of the Arctic: Asian Perspectives”, and “The Future of the Arctic: Arctic States – International Cooperation.” The meeting concluded with a tour of KOPRI (the Korea Polar Research Institute) and is followed by Korea Arctic Partnership Week hosted by the Korea Maritime Institute in Busan, South Korea. The full program is available on the meeting’s website.
Scientific research and international cooperation continue to be a key part of Asian countries’ Arctic policies and interests. IASC was asked to share “Arctic Research from the Science Community”, which were based on ICARP-III outcomes, the IASC Strategic Plan, and IASC Working Group Work Plans. In addition, IASC also contributed to a panel discussion on the topic of science and commercial cooperation in the Arctic, whether through industry or investment. IASC has convened breakout sessions on this topic at the past two Arctic Circle Assemblies, as part of the work of the Action Group on Arctic Science and Business / Industry Cooperation; results from the 2017 breakout and 2018 breakout are available on the IASC website.