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New Arctic Circle group forms to address needs of changing north

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch
In 2012, sea ice extent reached a new all-time low in the Arctic, with some researchers now estimating that the Arctic could be ice-free by 2050. Meanwhile, shipping and development companies are expected to increasingly eye the Arctic as an alternative to other, already better-developed regions of the world. The Arctic Circle hopes to address issues like these. Aaron Jansen illustration

When the National Press Club meets Monday in Washington, D.C., Iceland President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson will announce the formation of the Arctic Circle, a new nonprofit dedicated to bringing together the many international stakeholders in an open venue to address the challenges facing the rapidly-changing Arctic.

The announcement will take place at the National Press Club’s Newsmakers Luncheon held at the Holeman Lounge inside the NPC headquarters in Washington. A live webcast of the luncheon can be viewed here, with remarks running 1-2 p.m. Grímsson, who has served as Iceland’s president since 1996, has been a leading figure on Arctic policy and issues. He partnered with Alice Rogoff, publisher of the Alaska Dispatch and founder of the Arctic Imperative Summit, and Dr. Scott Borgerson, managing director of CargoMetrics and a former Arctic policy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Arctic Circle was founded with the goal of bringing the many Arctic policy centers, think tanks, institutions, indigenous peoples, and government organizations to the same table, under the same proverbial “tent” in order to address pressing issues in the region, including the rapid decline of Arctic sea ice, increased shipping and transportation through the far north and the responsible development of natural resources in the area. Currently, many of these issues are addressed by disparate groups who are looking individually at the trials facing the region, and the Arctic Circle aims to allow these organizations to hold their own meetings in an inclusive environment surrounded by others working on other Arctic priorities.

In 2012, sea ice extent reached a new all-time low in the Arctic, with some researchers now estimating that the Arctic could be ice-free by 2050. Meanwhile, shipping and development companies are expected to increasingly eye the Arctic as an alternative to other, already better-developed regions of the world.

The first-ever meeting of the Arctic Circle will take place at the Harpa Reykjavík Concert and Conference Center from Oct. 12-14. Future meetings of the Arctic Circle are expected to rotate annually through other Arctic countries.