Just hours after the Arctic Council hosted its Fairbanks Ministerial, eleven circumpolar mayors came held a historic gathering to discuss a locally-driven future for Arctic governance.
The Arctic Mayors Roundtable served three purposes:
- to introduce and strengthen the relationships between Arctic mayors
- identify key features of Arctic communities and priorities
- develop a path forward for local government communication and international cooperation.
The Arctic is incredibly diverse, but at a local level it is clear that governments had very similar responsibilities and are connected most closely to peoples of the Arctic. The opportunity to connect with similarly focused colleagues, many of whom hadn’t met, set the stage for future cooperation.
The 2017 Arctic Mayors Declaration that came from the day’s deliberations lays out a list of goals and priorities that reflect the interests of Arctic peoples and mayors. The Declaration delivers a promise to citizens and a calling card for Arctic states and the Arctic Council, where communities are not directly represented. It notes that “Our most important mission as mayors is to create good lives and societies for the people living in our municipalities. We also have the great responsibility to take care of our Arctic communities.”
Key features of the declaration include to:
- Expand economic diversification, opportunity and local benefits
- Build cutting-edge infrastructure
- Assume responsibility and provide leadership in our adaptation to a changing climate
- Govern using the best available science, knowledge and technology
- Promote healthy, equitable communities through inclusion and cooperation
Finally, it commits the eleven mayors – and others who are likely to join – to future cooperation. As they say, “Our purpose in making this declaration is that we strengthen and maintain open lines of communication between our communities and reinforce the ties between communities.” In the months ahead a framework for cooperation will be advanced, such that mayors can meet again in person, begin to share with one another best practices and lessons learned, and communicate more broadly their interests, perspectives and priorities.
Mayors Berkowitz, Brower and Kassel convened the inaugural Arctic Mayors Roundtable – these three leaders represent the Municipality of Anchorage, North Slope Borough, and Fairbanks North Star Borough respectively. Additionally, participating from other Arctic nations were Mayor Kristin Roymo, Tromso Kommune (Norway), Ida Marie Pinnerod, Bodo Kommune (Norway), Esko Lotvonen, City of Rovaniemi (Finland), Eirkur Bjorn Bjorgvinsson, City of Akureyri (Iceland) and Madeleine Redfern, City of Iqaluit (Canada). Mayors of Yellowknife (Canada), Tiksi (Russian Federation) and Nuuk (Greenland) sent regrets and additional comments. They were joined by fellow Alaska mayors Frank Kelty, City of Unalaska, Jim Matherly, City of Fairbanks, Clement Richards, Northwest Arctic Borough, and Richard Beneville, City of Nome.
The Institute of the North is Alaska’s Center for Arctic Policy. It has served as the Secretariat for the Alaska Arctic Council Host Committee, is the North American Secretariat for the Northern Forum, and manages numerous Arctic Council projects related to sustainable development. The Institute of the North will support the future cooperation between Arctic mayors. The Arctic Mayors Declaration can be found at www.institutenorth.org.