During the Arctic Economic Council (AEC) Annual Meeting on May 20th, Iceland passed its chairmanship to Russia. Evgeny Ambrosov, deputy Chairman of the Management Board and Director of Maritime Operations, Shipping and Logistic of NOVATEK, is now the new AEC chair.

The Russian Chairmanship will focus on the safety of the shipping operations in the Arctic, which includes mapping of carbon-free technologies in the maritime sector; improving risk-mitigation by addressing personnel training; harmonisation of ice-class vessel requirements; enhancing means of communication and navigation; and ensuring emergency preparedness in the high latitudes.

“Since the sixteen century all-year-round navigation in the Arctic has been a dream for many polar explorers. In the 21st century we will hopefully make this dream come true,” said Mr. Ambrosov.

The other Russian AEC Chairmanship priorities are diverse and include facilitating investment in sustainable development projects; formulating Arctic business development principles together with the Indigenous organisations; enhancing digital infrastructure; strengthening cooperation and dialogue between the AEC and the AC.

“We have to work together to ensure sustainable economic development for the people of the Arctic. I am happy that more companies are signing up and seeing the importance of the AEC,” said Mr Ambrosov.

The Icelandic two-years term at the AEC has focused on securing sustainable development by endorsing and promoting the Arctic Investment Protocol; exploring the opportunities of the emerging blue economy and better use of the marine resources; and strengthening international collaboration in the Arctic.

“The highlight of the Icelandic Chairmanship was working with great people. But I also think that we made important progress by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Arctic Council (AC) in Rovaniemi in 2019 and arranging a joint meeting between the AEC and the AC in Reykjavik.  Our policy advocacy is moving forward, which is the ultimate goal for the AEC, “ said  Heidar Gudjonsson, the former AEC Chair.

The AC has also appraised the joint meeting and acknowledged the importance of further cooperation with the AEC in the Reykjavik Declaration signed at the AC Ministerial Meeting on May 20th.  Strengthening the partnership between the two Councils has become one of the Strategic Actions adopted in the first AC Strategic Plan adopted the same day.

Furthermore, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov reaffirmed in his statement at the Reykjavik Ministerial the support of the Russian AC chairmanship to further the collaboration between the AC and the AEC.

At the AEC Annual Meeting the new Executive Committee was formed. As Erling Kvadsheim from the Norwegian oil and gas association is stepping down, Stein-Gunnar Bondevik from Troms Kraft will take over the position as a vice-chair.

“It is quite appropriate that in times of the energy transition the AEC Norway will pass the leadership from oil and gas association to a renewable energy company,” said Erling Kvadsheim

The AEC Executive Committee as of 2021:

Evgeny Ambrosov, NOVATEK

Heidar Gudjonsson, Vodafone (Sýn)

Tero Kiviniemi, Destia Group

Thomas Mack, Aleut International Association

Stein-Gunnar Bondevik, Troms Kraft.


Photo Credit: Harpa, Reykjavik by Stefán Erlingsson