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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

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 Chair of the Connectivity Working Group is Heidar Gudjonnson. Read his bio Bio 

The AEC has established four Working Groups based on the selected business areas set by the Arctic business community. The AEC’s current Working Groups are Infrastructure: Maritime Transportation, Connectivity, Responsible Resource Development and Arctic Stewardship. The Working Groups consists of industry experts from across the Arctic. The Working Groups are open to all AEC members and invited external experts.

 The way the Working Groups conduct their work:

·         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, Review

 The five overarching themes of the Arctic Economic Council:

1.       Establishing strong market connections between Arctic states

2.      Promoting stable and predictable regulatory frameworks

3.      Encouraging public-private partnerships for infrastructure investments

4.      Facilitating knowledge and data exchange between industry and academia

5.      Disseminating traditional indigenous knowledge, stewardship and focus on small businesses

The AEC Working Group on Connectivity builds upon the work of the AEC Working Group on Infrastructure: Telecommunications chaired by Robert McDowell (USA). The Working Group on Infrastructure: Telecommunications concluded its work in 2017 with the publication of its report “Arctic Broadband – Recommendations for and Interconnected Arctic”. Based on the great interest towards connectivity in the Arctic, the AEC decided to continue its work within this field with a new Working Group under Mr. Gudjonsson’s leadership.

Report: “Arctic Broadband – Recommendations for an Interconnected Arctic”

The report: “Arctic Broadband – Recommendations for an Interconnected Arctic” was published in January 2017. The AEC’s Telecommunications Working Group’s report was the first of its kind, providing an analysis of the state of Arctic broadband. It also presents different funding options applicable in the Arctic, an overview of planned and ongoing projects related to connectivity, and gives recommendations for future. The report can be found here

Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit

The Working Group has initiated the AEC Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit (TOW Summit). The first TOW Summit was held in Barrow, Alaska in 2016. It gathered more than 100 participants including policy leaders, tech industry experts and other executives. Following positive feedback from the industry, the second TOW Summit was held in Oulu, Finland in 2017 in collaboration with the City of Oulu. Being held back-to-back with the EU Arctic Stakeholder Forum, the 2017 TOW Summit provided great synergy opportunities for improved dialogue between the Arctic business community and policy decision makers. The 3rd TOW Summit will be held on June 27-28, 2018 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.

 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 


The Chair of the Arctic Stewardship Working Group is Jennine Jordan. 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