Arctic must remain an area of co-operation, including in addressing climate change, OSCE parliamentarians say at virtual meeting

Torill Eidsheim 5 May 2021Torill Eidsheim, 21 May 2021COPENHAGEN, 21 May 2021 – Opening an informal meeting of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Delegations from Arctic countries today, OSCE PA Special Representative on Arctic Issues Torill Eidsheim (Norway) said the spirit of co-operation in the High North is strong, urging that this spirit should be reflected in the international community more broadly. It is important to work together to promote the concept of sustainable development in the Arctic by building synergies where possible, she said, stressing that today’s meeting served as an important opportunity to discuss the PA's engagement on the region.

“The Arctic is and must remain an area of peace and co-operation,” Eidsheim said. “We may not always agree, but we must listen to each other.” Eidsheim noted that as Special Representative, she has focused on raising awareness on the effects of the climate crisis on the Arctic and on its direct impact on Arctic communities. She said that the OSCE PA is well positioned as an appropriate forum to address this issue, but also stressed the work being done by others and underlined the importance of engaging with youth. In this spirit she noted her collaboration with organizations including the Saami Council and the Conference of Arctic Parliamentarians.

Eidsheim also offered congratulations to Iceland for its successful Chairmanship of the Arctic Council and wished best wishes to the Russian Federation for its incoming Chairmanship.

OSCE PA Vice-President Margareta Cederfelt (Sweden) emphasized that the Arctic region is very sensitive, noting that it is not only an area defined by natural beauty, but also somewhere that many people live. In this regard, it needs both environmental protection and economic development. She noted that international law is lacking in important respects when it comes to the high seas, including Arctic waters. Parliamentarians have an important role to play strengthening international law in this respect, and representatives of Nordic countries, in particular, bring an important perspective.

OSCE PA Vice-President Kari Henriksen (Norway) welcomed the work of Special Representative Eidsheim, noting that by raising the Arctic as an example of climate change’s impact, Eidsheim has highlighted how it is truly a security threat to all countries. Henriksen pointed out that people are being displaced due to the ripple effects of climate change, including disappearing food sources such as migratory animals and depleted fishing stocks. She also emphasized that the military build-up in the region is troubling. With trade routes being opened up, moreover, there must be corresponding regulations put in place.

OSCE PA Secretary General Roberto Montella also spoke at the meeting, thanking Eidsheim for her work and urging synergy within the OSCE and with other organizations. The OSCE PA brings the perspective of being a broad-based organization, he said, complementing the work of other organizations focused on the Arctic from the perspective of its acquis. The important thing is to add value to their work and not replicate it, Montella said.

For more information on the work of the OSCE PA Special Representative on Arctic Issues, please click here.

For Torill Eidsheim's opening remarks at today's meeting, please click here.



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