Our work

The Arctic Economic Council’s Working Groups

The AEC’s Working Groups reflect the AEC selected business areas. The first four Working Groups were established during the Canadian Chairmanship of the AEC. Two of the Working Groups focus on infrastructure: Telecommunications and Maritime Transportation. The other current Working Groups are Responsible Resource Development and Arctic Stewardship.

The AEC has also decided to establish the following Working Groups in the future: Aviation, Tourism, Fishing and Other Marine Resources, and Investment & Infrastructure.

Brief work plan for the Working Groups:

  • Analyze the current business climate in the Arctic
  • Incorporate the five overarching themes of the AEC
  • Define actionable recommendations and variables that will raise the standard of economic development in the Arctic
  • Execute, report and review

Working Group milestones:

  • April 2016: Working Group Memberships completed
  • September 2016: Working Group Terms of Reference completed
  • January 2017: Telecommunications Working Group deliverable launched
  • January 2018: Work products finalized for AEC consideration

The Second Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit will be organized on 14-15 June 2017 in Oulu, Finland

Based on the success of the first Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit in 2016, the AEC has decided to organize the second Arctic Broadband Summit together with the City of Oulu in June 2017. The dates for the second Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit are 14-15 June 2017.

Finnish businesses took over the AEC Chairmanship at the organization’s Annual Meeting in May 2017. The 2017 TOW Arctic Broadband Summit will focus on the development of Arctic broadband in the light of the Finnish AEC Chairmanship themes “Safe Arctic”, “Competent Arctic” and “Interconnected Arctic”.

More information about practicalities, program and registration can be found from under “Events”. Questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact info@arcticeconomiccouncil.com .

To read more about the 2016 Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit, please see here.

Chair of the Maritime Transportation Working Group is Mikko Niini. Read his bio here.

The Working Group on Maritime Transportation will examine issues and opportunities associated with shipping in the Arctic.

Working Group Fact Sheet

Terms of Reference  

Work Plan

The Telecommunications Working Groups was led by Robert McDowell. Read bio here.

The Working Group has launched its deliverable, a report titled “Arctic Broadband. Recommendation for an Interconnected Arctic”.

The Telecommunication Infrastructure Working Group unveiled its report “Arctic Broadband. Recommendations for an Interconnected Arctic” on January 24, 2017 during the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø. The report is the first of its kind. It explores how each Arctic state defines broadband, and the goals each has established for broadband deployment, as well as the overarching societal benefits of broadband. The document also discusses the challenges that must be considered and surmounted in order to expand broadband in the Arctic, and both funding options and past, current and proposed broadband deployment projects are explored.

Read the report here.

Chair of the AEC Infrastructure: Telecommunications Working Group, Robert McDowell, comments:

“The recommendations provided in this report are the result of a true collaborative effort among the business community within the eight Arctic states. Together, local Arctic residents and expert broadband advisors have combined their knowledge to establish a comprehensive strategy for the deployment and adoption of broadband in the far north – a first of its kind.”

Among the goals and recommendations included in the report are examples of potential legal, regulatory, and business practice reforms and strategies that the private sector, NGOs and local, indigenous, provincial, and national governments could undertake to facilitate deployment.

Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit

Together with partners, the AEC Telecommunications Infrastructure Working Group organized a Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit in Barrow, Alaska in July 2016. The Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit gathered representatives of business, technology, and policy decision makers to two-day discussions focusing on the development of broadband in the Arctic and the challenges facing this development.

Based on the success of the first Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit in 2016, the AEC has decided to organize the second Arctic Broadband Summit together with the City of Oulu in June 2017. The second Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit will be held in Oulu, Finland on 14-15 June 2017. For more information, please see “Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit” under “Our Work”.

2016 Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit in Barrow, Alaska

To read more about the  2016 TOW Summit and to see a video, please click here.

Presentations from the Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit, Barrow AK:

Ali Hirji_ORION

Bryan Hartin_Iridium

Doug Sosnik_Political Profile

Dr. Heather Hudson_UAA

Elizabeth Pierce_Quintillion

Greg Wyler_OneWeb

Krag Johnsen_GCI

Michael Perkinson_Sustainable Investment Strategy_ Guggenheim

Paul Flaherty_Northwestel Overview

Robert McCoy_UAF

Working Group Fact Sheet


The Chairs of the Responsible Resource Development Working Group are Lillian Hvatum-Brewster and Bruce Harland.

The Arctic is open for business. The roles of the AEC and the work of the Responsible Resource Development Working Group are to facilitate investments aimed at conducting resource development in a sustainable manner throughout the Arctic. A changing Arctic opens up new opportunities for more efficient marine transportation routes, and positions our region to meet the global deands for natural resources. Further, it empowers regional growth access to innovative renewable Technology to improve the quality of life at the local level.

The Working Group on Responsible Resource Development aims to provide the necessary framework for responsible resource exploration and development. The goals are centered around development taking place in a responsible, sustainable and cooperative manner which also contributes to the regional economic growth of the Arctic. The Arctic is becoming more accessible for development and with this new focus comes challenges annd opportunities in the circumpolar Arctic. The opportunities for economic growth from responsible resource development can benefit the local, regional, national and international communities in the Arctic.

Increased development in the Arctic raises many important questions about habitat and climate, about how local societies in the North should relate to the growing industrialization.


  • Review opportunities for resource development in the Arctic and identify potential barriers to sustainable development
  • Facilitating business investments
  • Local Benefits  
  • Management of Risk        
  • Sustainability

Terms of Reference

Working Group Fact Sheet 

Tara Sweeney


The Chair of the Arctic Stewardship Working Group is Tara Sweeney. Read bio here.

The Arctic Stewardship Working Group aims to provide the necessary framework for being good business partners in the Arctic with indigenous residents and communities. The Working Group will examine and publish guidelines on appropriate engagement with indigenous residents and communities with respect to traditional knowledge, stewardship and small and medium enterprise development.

Traditional Knowledge (TK) is an asset that can add value to projects or initiatives in the Arctic that is often overlooked and undervalued by developers, academia, the government and the occasional unaware outside stakeholder. Many Arctic residents know the natural environment and even the most acute changes in wind direction, ice conditions, currents, migration routes, molting spots, sensitive overall natural surroundings.
Non-Arctic stakeholders looking to do business in the Arctic or partner with Arctic businesses can benefit from the appropriate attainment and utilization of traditional knowledge. Knowing where and how to attain traditional knowledge is as important as knowing whether the information received is accurate.
The working group will work to refine those parameters so stakeholders with an eye towards business development in the Arctic get it right, not just done.

  • Key factors and questions that the report will seek to address include:
    • Recognizing Traditional Knowledge
    – What is traditional knowledge and how do “you” get it
    – What is the best way to acquire it
    – What is the wrong way to acquire it
    – Why is it important to have traditional knowledge for Arctic economic, policy and guideline development and growth?
    • Incorporating Traditional Knowledge
    – How should traditional knowledge be vetted?
    – Is the traditional knowledge location appropriate? Not a one size fits all solution. What works in Saami country, may not translate into appropriate knowledge for Kałaałimiut.
    – Who speaks? Getting the right people to provide the information.
    • Guidelines for incorporating TK in:
    – Regulatory processes & government policies
    – Academia/Research
    – Development projects
    • Circumpolar TK similarities

Terms of Reference

Working Group Fact Sheet