“Today marks the placeholder along the timeline of Arctic history to where our member states can pinpoint as the start to a new way of doing business in the Arctic”, stated the second Chair of the AEC’s history, Ms. Tara Sweeney, to an invited audience attending the official opening of the AEC Secretariat two years ago.
On September 8th, 2015 Ms. Sweeney and the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr.Børge Brende raised the AEC flag in Tromsø, Norway. This symbolized the establishment and official opening of the Arctic Economic Council Secretariat.
During his opening speech, Minister Brende highlighted the importance of international cooperation: “If we are going to make the High North our most innovative region, we are dependent upon cooperation with others.”
Speaking about regional development and non-Arctic interests, Sweeney explained, “Arctic residents, communities and businesses should not be viewed as mere tools to achieve an organizational goal, but rightly viewed as experts and potential partners. This way, the AEC way, will stand on the principles of collaboration, partnership, innovation and peace.”
Two years after its opening, the Secretariat is fully staffed and supports the AEC in its work. It also serves as point of contact for the organization.
The Secretariat is in charge of the day-to-day activities of the AEC, working in close cooperation with the AEC leadership. It is responsible for organizing AEC events such as the AEC Annual Meetings and Governance Committee Meetings. In addition, numerous other events and AEC outreach efforts such as the AEC Side Event at the White House Arctic Science Ministerial hosted by the Embassy of Finland in Washington, D.C., the Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit, and AEC events organized in conjunction with other Arctic events are organized and supported by the Secretariat. Together with the AEC Membership, the Secretariat also serves as the organization’s voice in its outreach efforts.
“Looking back, I am proud to be able to say that the AEC and the Secretariat have come a long way during these two years. I am happy to see that we have already reached so many of the organizational goals we set out to achieve. We are now fully operational and ready to continue working with the full membership and other Arctic stakeholders on achieving our common goal, making the Arctic a favorable place to do business”, states the Director of the Secretariat, Ms. Anu Fredrikson.
Photos: Ingun A. Mælhum.