GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, 3 March 2020 – Speaking Monday at the Marshall Center's 2020 Security Seminar North, OSCE PA Special Representative on Arctic Issues Torill Eidsheim (MP, Norway) focused on the increased geostrategic importance of the Arctic and its security challenges.
keynote address at the seminar on “The Arctic – Risks and Opportunities,” in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Eidsheim emphasized that climate change is increasing the geostrategic importance of the Arctic, with melting sea ice opening new trade routes that unleash international competition, which can trigger tensions. “Only by addressing climate change – the root cause – will we be able to also address all of its multifaceted effects,” she said. “It is not merely an environmental issue: it is a global security matter.”In her
The life of Arctic communities is already severely affected, she noted, with resettlements, disruption to infrastructure, health risks, as well as changing agricultural and farming patterns. But effects are not limited to the Arctic and its people: these trends will slowly impact also the rest of the planet. “Climate change is a threat multiplier,” Eidsheim underlined. “We are now in the middle of a panic wave for the coronavirus, but do we fully realize the risk factor of climate change?”
Eidsheim highlighted three strong assets of parliamentary engagement: proposing legislation, holding governments to account for the implementation of laws and international commitments, and being the direct link between people and institutions. She urged increasing parliamentary engagement in these three directions and push for States and governments to assume more responsibilities and concrete action, with an all-of-society inclusive approach, to mitigate the effects of climate change.
She also noted the need to make use of the OSCE, a unique platform for dialogue that, among its 57 participating States, includes all Arctic countries, to foster international co-operation on these matters.
Special Representative Eidsheim’s visit to Garmisch follows her remarks to the special debate on climate change during the meeting of the OSCE PA’s economic and environmental committee in Vienna on 20 February and her bilateral meeting with the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Lamberto Zannier, where they agreed to place more focus on the challenges affecting Arctic indigenous communities.
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