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Early visionaries of the Arctic Council discuss its future

From left to right, headshots of Rosemarie Kuptana, Franklyn Griffiths, Oran Young, and Tony Penikett.
Rosemarie Kuptana, Franklyn Griffiths, Oran Young, and Tony Penikett.

April 28, 2022

In February of this year, the Center sponsored a panel discussion with three founding visionaries of the Arctic Council, moderated by Tony Penikett, former premier of the Yukon Territory and UW’s 2013-14 Fulbright Canada Chair in Arctic Studies.

In the decade leading up to the official launch of the Arctic Council countless meetings occurred among a limited group of people from across all Arctic states. Meetings, which took place with regularity, developed over time into intimate gatherings where personal connections encouraged substantive discussion. This spirit carried through to the early days of the Arctic Council where Senior Arctic Officials and members of the Working Groups developed close connections and a shared understanding of local and regional issues.

The three panelists played a role in the founding and development of the Arctic Council. They were Rosemarie Kuptana, former president of both the Inuit Circumpolar Council and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; Frankyn Griffiths, professor emeritus in Political Science at the University of Toronto; and Oran Young, professor emeritus and co-director of the Program on Governance for Sustainable Development at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California.

Since the founding of the Arctic Council conditions have changed. A sizable number of non-Arctic states and non-governmental organizations have joined the Council as Observers, media coverage has increased, and corporate interests have kept an eye on business opportunities. These experts discuss how these developments changed the operations of the Arctic Council and how the region’s Indigenous peoples can maintain a strong presence in this increasingly crowded field.

The roundtable was organized by visiting scholar Erica Dingman, founder of Arctic in Context. The event is now part of our Arctic and International Relations video series. That video and others can be viewed here.