2017 Arctic Council ministerial meeting will be in Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks has been selected to host the next ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council in 2017.

Adm. Robert Papp, U.S. special representative to the Arctic, revealed the location Monday at the Arctic Frontiers 2016 meeting in Norway. Next year’s meeting is scheduled for May 2017, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum that allows nations with Arctic assets to meet and discuss policy. The council includes the U.S., Canada, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Denmark. Its six permanent participants include the Aleut International Association, the Arctic Athabaskan Council, the Gwich’in Council International, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, and the Saami Council.

The ministerial meetings take place every two years at the handing over of the chairmanship between countries. Secretary of State John Kerry currently serves as the U.S. minister and as chair of the Arctic Council during the U.S. chairmanship, which ends in 2017.

The next ministerial meeting in Fairbanks will be the second for Alaska. The Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting was held in Barrow in 2000.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski praised Monday’s announcement, saying she has pushed for Fairbanks since the last ministerial meeting was held in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada.

“I said, ‘Well, I certainly hope that it will be in Fairbanks,’” Murkowski said. “I don’t know that I was uppity, but I was certainly very forceful.”

Since becoming chair of the Arctic Council, the U.S. has focused its efforts on combating climate change in the Arctic. As the council prepares to visit the financially troubled state, Murkowski said, officials should focus on balancing the fight to reduce carbon emissions with economic impacts.

“People live in these regions. They live in these Arctic environments, and at the same time we want to make sure we’re responding appropriately to climate concerns, we want to ensure the people have the opportunity for an economy, an economy in a place that you don’t have a lot of different options,” Murkowski said.

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