Fostering Cooperation between Korea and the Arctic Economic Council

Earlier this month the Arctic Economic Council and the Korean Ministry for Foreign Affairs organized a joint seminar in Seoul, Korea focusing on challenges of Arctic maritime transportation, the need for connectivity and cooperation between Korea and the AEC.

The event was attended by representatives from both business and academia in Korea, as well as the representatives from the AEC Working Group on Maritime Transportation representing businesses across the Arctic. The AEC Connectivity Working Group was also represented by its Chair Mr. Heidar Gudjonsson.

The seminar was opened by H.E. YUN Kang-hyeon, Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the Republic of Korea and Aleksi Härkönen, Senior Arctic Official Chair representing Finland. AEC Vice Chair Róbert Guðfinnsson provided the opening remarks on behalf of the AEC. He spoke about how the AEC can be a resource for Arctic-minded stakeholders.

The first highlight of the seminar focused on the Northern Sea Route. Member of the AEC Working Group on Maritime Transportation, Dr. Lawson Brigham, and Dr. Bjørn Gunnarsson of the Centre for High North Logistics presented their views on Arctic natural resource development and infrastructure projects respectively.

The Northern Sea Route as game changer for maritime transportation was the subject of a panel discussion where representatives of the AEC Working Group on Maritime Transportation as well as Korean business representatives participated. In addition, Dr. Alysson Azzara of the Arctic Council PAME’s (Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment) Shipping Expert Group, presented her views regarding Arctic shipping and environmental safety.

AEC Member representing Icelandic businesses and the Chair of the new AEC Working Group on Connectivity, Mr. Heidar Gudjonnson, moderated a panel on connectivity in the Arctic. One of the topics discussed was E-navigation in the Arctic.

The program included also a discussion on future cooperation between Korea and the AEC. At the event, the AEC welcomed Korea Shipowners’ Association as the first AEC member from a non-Arctic state (Read more here).

At the formal signing ceremony, the AEC Vice Chair Róbert Guðfinnsson commented: “Korea in its Arctic policy has shown a commitment to sustainable development of the Arctic, and we are honored to have the first sub-Arctic member come from Korea.”

AEC was also present at the Arctic Partnership Week in Busan. The members of the AEC and its Working Groups participated in the Arctic Partnership Week both as key note speakers and as panelists.