The 2017 North Pacific Arctic Conference was organized by the East-West Center and the Korea Maritime Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 9-11, 2017. The conference was organized for the seventh time, and this year’s event had the title “Building Capacity for a Sustainable Arctic in a Changing Global Order”.

The Arctic Economic Council (AEC) was represented at the event by its Chair Mr. Tero Vauraste who participated in a session focusing on Responsible Economic Development in the Arctic.

In his speech, Mr. Vauraste underlined that to achieve long-term sustainable economic development in the Arctic we should be able to create value adding trade independently within the Arctic. While this might be challenging at least on certain areas, Mr. Vauraste proposes to combine the Arctic value chains to broader global trade value chains.

He further stated than when combining the Arctic value chains to global ones  it is important to ensure that local communities and traditional livelihoods are respected. An Ethical Business Code for the Arctic could act as a framework and provide recommendations at least to some extent. By creating an Ethical Business Code for the Arctic we could to some extent safeguard the sustainable development of the region.

The past 20 years have witnessed lowering global trade barriers. This in turn has resulted in boosting international trade with more comprehensive and stronger value chains. Mr. Vauraste showed concern about some of the recent development contradicting the positive trend of lowering trade barriers.

Facilitating responsible business and economic development of the Arctic and its communities is one of the goals of the AEC. Here, the use of best available technologies is a key element. Free trade ensures that the best available technologies and services can be exported whenever needed. In contrast, protectionism leads to less competition and slower technological development. The current development is alarming for the Arctic as best available technological services and products are vital in ensuring sustainable investment and economic activity in the region.

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