Today, I am traveling with Secretary Clinton to Nuuk, Greenland for the 7th Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council, founded in 1996, meets at the ministerial level every second year. Secretary Clinton today becomes the first U.S. Secretary of State to lead a U.S. Delegation to an Arctic Council meeting, a clear sign of the priority this Secretary and this Administration place on the Arctic.
I am excited to be returning to Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, located on the west coast. In 2010, the Inuit Circumpolar Council invited me to attend its quadrennial General Assembly where I learned first-hand through Inuit representatives from Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Russia about topics such as health, climate change, and governance issues affecting the Inuit, some of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic.
When I visited Greenland last summer, I did not realize I would have the opportunity to return again so soon. This time, I am returning for far-reaching discussion of issues facing all the residents of the Arctic, and by extension, all the people of the world.
The United States has broad-ranging interests in the Arctic, as demonstrated by the fact that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, and Alaska Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell are all joining the Secretary and me on the delegation, as is Ambassador Laurie Fulton from the U.S. Embassy in Denmark. The United States recognizes and values the Arctic Council as the pre-eminent intergovernmental forum for cooperation in the Arctic. We are committed to strengthening it to meet the new challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Denmark, as the chair of the Council for the past two years, has invited us to the capital of Greenland to celebrate recent accomplishments and to set priorities for the upcoming Swedish chairmanship.
Arctic issues are particularly interesting and important because of their cross-cutting nature. Climate change, energy development, international shipping, indigenous rights, scientific cooperation, and human health all intersect when we discuss the transformation affecting the northernmost reaches of the globe. How we address these issues will of course affect the future of Arctic residents, but will also affect those of us living far to the south. Rising sea levels due to melting glaciers, new sources of oil and gas, effects on migratory species from loss of habitat -- all are reminders that we live in a world in which our fates are intertwined.
Through the Arctic Council we work with our partners from the other seven Arctic countries and from Arctic indigenous groups to address these emerging challenges. The productive international cooperation we cultivate with our Arctic Council partners in Russia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, and Denmark stands as a model for regional cooperation elsewhere in the world. We anticipate that the presence of Secretary Clinton and the other foreign ministers will send a message to the world that the future of the Arctic is an issue of truly global concern, and the countries of the Arctic are proactively addressing new challenges.
Climate change is transforming the Arctic. In 2004, the Arctic Council released its groundbreaking Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, a scientific report that transformed the way the world understood the changes affecting the region. Now, seven years later, climate change is accelerating. The discussion of how to adapt to this transforming environment is on the minds of people around the world, but none more so than the people who live there. The new report, Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost of the Arctic (SWIPA), follows up on that 2004 report and documents the current state and anticipated future of the frozen parts of the region. These Arctic Council reports illustrate the value of international polar science collaboration as a foundation for good policy-making in the region.
The Council's working groups and forces are hard at work examining the new realities of the region and developing innovative ideas to challenges. From species loss to increased tourism, from melting glaciers to hazardous waste, from human health to emergency response, the United States is engaged in projects and initiatives within the Arctic Council that ensure that the changing Arctic remains an area of peace and cooperation. Many more examples of the Council's research products can be found here. Tomorrow, Secretary Clinton will highlight some of the Council's greatest recent accomplishments as well as our ambitions for its future.