The Foreign Service Journal, May 2021

38 MAY 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL FOCUS ON ARCTIC DIPLOMACY I celand has chaired the Arctic Council for the past two years and is preparing to hand over the gavel to Rus- sia at a ministerial meeting in Reykjavík this month. During our chairmanship, we wanted to call attention to the core mission of the Arctic Council since the signing of the Ottawa Declaration in 1996: Sustainable development and the importance of balancing its three pillars—economic growth, social inclusion and envi- ronmental protection. In a rapidly changing world, we see the value of remembering and reflecting on our starting point. With that in mind, we chose sustainability as the overarch- ing theme of our two-year term, and “Together Toward a Sus- tainable Arctic” as the title for our chairmanship program. Iceland has worked to address priority challenges—economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection—during its chairmanship of the Arctic Council. BY E I NAR GUNNARSSON Einar Gunnarsson, chair of the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials from 2019 to 2021, joined the Icelandic Foreign Service in 1996. Over the course of his 25-year diplomatic career, Ambassador Gunnars- son has served as Permanent Secretary of State of the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2009-2014) and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York City (2015-2018), among many other assignments. The Heat Is On Those of us in the Arctic already feel the effects of climate change, and appreciate that it is a real global threat, growing at an unprecedented scale. As such, it calls for worldwide mitiga- tion actions. Even if the best-case scenario plays out, with a fully implemented Paris Agreement, we can still expect to see temperatures rise in the Arctic region by at least 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by the middle of the century, with unforeseen negative consequences. It is therefore crystal-clear that we need stronger global action and cooperation to reduce emissions, along with increased adaptation efforts, to deal with the drastic impact climate change is already having on our region. To help us in this battle, we must strike a balance among economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protec- tion. These three pillars of sustainable development are also clearly reflected in Iceland’s four chairmanship priorities: the Arctic marine environment, climate and green energy solu- tions, the people and communities of the Arctic and, last but not least, a stronger Arctic Council. We believe that these four areas serve to highlight some of the most pressing issues fac- ing the Circumpolar North today. Towarda Sustainable Arctic