For the Assembly's first-ever conference focusing specifically on Northern issues, over 80 parliamentarians from across the OSCE area gathered in Tromso, Norway 12-13 May 2005. OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Members from 26 states, including both northern and southern OSCE regions, met at the invitation of the Norwegian Delegation to the OSCE PA. This conference, titled, 'The High North - Environment, Security and Co-operation,' was organized by the OSCE PA to highlight the links between environmental concerns and security challenges in the Arctic region. Presentations and discussion throughout the conference examined the potential dangers to local and international stability of environmental stress, as well as the improved relations that can develop from co-operation on environmental affairs.

At the opening session, parliamentarians heard presentations by Jorgen Kosmo, President of the Norwegian Parliament, Alcee Hastings, President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and Jan Petersen, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Following the opening session, the conference continued with presentations and panel discussions examining different issues affecting northern regions. These were focused on four themes: climate change; nuclear waste; petroleum exploration; and resource management and pollution. These focused discussions were intended to provide Members with comprehensive information on the subject, which can be reflected in their legislative work.

Session one, focusing on climate change, was chaired by Tone Tingsgard, Vice President of the OSCE PA. The panel included Dr. Olav Orheim, Director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, and Dr. Pal Prestrud, Director of CICERO environmental institute. The speakers addressed both scientific and political issues related to climate change in the Arctic.

Session wwo, dealing with nuclear waste, was chaired by OSCE PA Vice-President Ihor Ostash and Kjell Engebretsen from the Norwegian Delegation to the OSCE PA. The session heard keynote addresses by Kim Traavik, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, and Frederic Hauge, Head of the environmental NGO Bellona. The presentations outlined work that has been accomplished in cleaning up nuclear waste in the region, and highlighted the challenges that remain in this regard.

Session three, examining petroleum exploration, met under the chairmanship of Goran Lennmarker, Chair of the OSCE PA First Committee. Three experts speakers addressed the session: Dr. Artur Chilingarov, Vice-President of the Russian Duma; Henrik Carlsen, Director at Statoil, Norway; and Oluf Ulseth, State Secretary at the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Norway. The speakers focused on the need for sustainable practices in extracting resources in the Arctic region.

Session four, chaired by Julie Christiansen of the Norwegian Delegation to the OSCE PA, examined issues to do with resource management and pollution. A presentation was given by Rune Bergstrom, Environmental Director at the Office of the Governor of Spitzbergen, Norway, and the session also included a presentation on the ENVSEC initiative by Marc Baltes andAnnica Carlson from the office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities. In these presentations, parliamentarians learned about the approaches being taken by these institutions towards limiting and overcoming acute environmental stress.

The Tromso Conference was the fourth Sub-Regional Conference organized by the OSCE PA, following Bern (2003), Nantes (1999) and Monaco (1997). The Sub-Regional Conferences are intended to provide parliamentarians with occasions to exchange views with colleagues and international experts, and to deepen their understanding of OSCE issues.