By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,678)
The City has confirmed that it will be hosting a series of meetings on the Arctic in October. Called the Arctic Council, the Coordinator of the Council is Secretary of State John Kerry and he is expected to be in Portland for the meetings according to Greg Mitchell, Director of the City’s Economic Development office.
The member nations are: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden and the US. Twenty-six countries will be represented come this fall with associates accompanying them on their travels to Portland. The group’s first meeting was held in Anchorage, Alaska last October.
This is a big deal for Portland, Maine to be hosting this event this October. We are working with a number of organizations to create an Arctic theme in Portland this fall. Opening up the arctic trade routes is expected to result in increased shipping through the Port of Portland Maine Terminal,” emailed Greg Mitchell to mhn.com
Mitchell said in a telephone conversation that some of the local organizations involved in the event include: Chamber of Commerce, Creative Portland, Portland Downtown and other similar organizations. Creative Portland will develop an Arctic theme for its First Friday Art Walk in October. Some local restaurants have been contacted to provide an Arctic theme as well, although Mitchell would not say which ones because it is still a work-in-progress.
Most of the representatives from the 26 countries and their associates will stay at the Westin Hotel, since that is the largest hotel in Portland, with almost 300 rooms. Preliminary meetings starting in September and leading into the October main event, will be held in Portland as well as in the outskirts, although Mitchell said it was too early to confirm the specifics yet.
The Ottawa Declaration (1996) formally established the Arctic Council as a high level intergovernmental forum to promote cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, with the involvement of the Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues. Military security issues are specifically excluded from the council’s mandate. Russia is known to be particularly active in the area, but this area is not under the mandate of this Council.
“This is not just an opportunity to host a series of meetings, but a look to the future of how the Port of Portland will benefit once the trade routes are established,” said Mitchell. “It’s a primer for lots of discussion on how to connect Portland to the rest of the world for the purposes of trade.”
Google Arctic Council for more background information on the Arctic Council.