Pre-announcement buzz suggests the Arctic Council might be a Nobel Peace Prize contender

The international forum was nominated last year by UArctic, and has previously been included on a prominent shortlist.

By Reuters - September 30, 2019

The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be announced in Oslo on October 11 and one of the many names mentioned in the pre-announcement buzz is the Arctic Council.

Formed in 1996, the Arctic Council is made up of eight nations bordering the Arctic — the United States, Canada, Russia, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland — while the region’s Indigenous populations also have permanent representation. The Arctic Council’s remit excludes military matters.

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The council is the leading intergovernmental forum for cooperation, coordination and interaction among the countries on common Arctic issues, in particular on sustainable development and environmental protection.

China has had observer status at the Council since 2013 and has been increasingly active in the region, outlining a plan for a “Polar Silk Road” last year.

The group’s most recent ministerial meeting was held in Rovaniemi in Finland earlier this year. The meeting was supposed to frame a two-year agenda to balance the challenge of global warming with sustainable development of mineral wealth, but ended with no final declaration.

Sources with knowledge of the discussions said the United States balked at signing a final declaration, as it disagreed with wording that climate change was a serious threat to the Arctic.

[Why the work of the Arctic Council will continue even without consensus on climate change]

Interest in the Arctic region has increased recently, with some countries working to increase their presence in the region.

Meanwhile, as Arctic temperatures rise at twice the rate of the rest of the globe, diminishing ice is opening potential shipping routes and making it easier to commercially exploit some resources in the region such as oil and gas.

The Nobel announcement will take place on Friday October 11.