Advancing Arctic policy at the local level and involving municipalities in Arctic decision-making is the next step in Arctic governance. Up to this point, an organized mechanism to connect mayors across the Arctic and to inform them effectively about Arctic policy - and to inform Arctic policy – has not existed.
It is at the local level that leaders hear directly from citizens who are worried about the delivery of essential services and who depend on community and economic development. Communities around the Arctic bear the most risk related to an increasingly active and changing region, but also see the fewest benefits, as public and private investment is hard to justify. It is municipal leaders who can contribute the local knowledge necessary to make wise decisions in the Arctic region, providing a more direct conduit between local peoples and distant policy makers.
A formalized mechanism that will strengthen local capacity and elevate the voices of local leaders is a critical next step. At the same time, there is a real opportunity to better coordinate the exchange of best practices between mayors, to facilitate knowledge exchange for mutual benefit, and in common cause to advance shared priorities.
The Institute of the North (ION) has a nearly 20-year history of working on Arctic issues, the sustainable development of the region, and communicating at a local, regional, national and international level. ION was instrumental in supporting the development of Alaska’s Arctic policy, has managed circumpolar Arctic Council projects, and has been a continued advocate for the improved living and economic conditions of northern peoples.
ION is proud to have helped initiate the inaugural meeting of the Arctic Mayors Roundtable. We believe that this platform can be more than a single occurrence or annual event; it demonstrates the value of convening, dialogue and cooperation that must be carried forward strategically and with purpose.
An “Arctic Mayors’ Forum” will bridge the gaps described above and advance local participation in the Arctic, following up on and implementing the Arctic Mayors Declaration signed in Fairbanks on May 11.
There are nearly 400 communities in the Arctic who could potentially participate in this locally driven Forum, which will focus on the following activities:
- Organize mayoral participation in sessions at and at in-person meetings on sidelines of:
- Arctic Circle - Iceland
- Arctic Frontiers - Norway
- High North Dialogue - Norway
- Arctic: Territory of Dialogue – Russia
- Ministerial meeting – Finland
- Develop a web-based resource bank for Arctic municipal policy related to the lines of effort described in the Arctic Mayors’ Declaration;
- Work to invite and include additional Arctic mayors as signatories to the Arctic Mayors’ Declaration;
- Communicate to municipalities updates on – and opportunities to participate in – regional and national policy development that affects the Arctic region, as well as Arctic Council projects.
- Develop international platforms for Arctic issues and use existing arenas for promoting the regional voice of the Arctic municipalities
The Institute of the North is prepared to act as a Secretariat. The Institute’s Executive Director would lead this effort, working closely with Christin Kristoffersen (former Mayor of Longyearbyen, Svalbard) to implement the vision set forth by the municipalities. This builds on the Alaska-Norway cooperation that has emerged in recent years and ensures a balanced approach to group coordination.
Additionally, we would propose an informal governing body of four mayors, one each from a region of the Arctic – North American, North Atlantic, Nordic, and Russian. This governing board would help direct the Secretariat’s activities and serve as main points of contact for the Arctic Mayors’ Forum.
The Secretariat will solicit additional funding from regional development authorities, foundations and other potential donors, though it is important to begin that effort with buy-in from each participating municipality.
The Secretariat invites current signatories to become “sponsors” of the Arctic Mayors Forum, contributing at levels that are manageable but meaningful. This can also be thought of as “membership dues” if that is better for your budget. What this means is that we ask you to choose from the following contribution levels an amount that reflects your interest in Arctic issues and current financial situation. What is most important is that we see full participation so that we can communicate the cohesiveness of the Forum’s participants.
Sponsors Levels and Recognition
- High North - $10,000
- Arctic Circle - $5,000
- Polar Partner - $2,500
- Northern Latitudes - $1,000
Sponsors will be listed according to the level at which they have contributed, with logo placement/name listed on relevant print materials and links to municipalities included on all web and social media outreach.