World War II monument in Fairbanks, Alaska for the Soviet, American cooperation. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Arctic Council 2017 – How to watch & who to follow

The United States turns over the two-year rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council to Finland this week in Fairbanks, Alaska.
May 08, 2017


Text: Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Over the next five days, foreign ministers, diplomats, indigenous leaders, and northern experts from pretty much every domain you can imagine, will descend on this small city of 32,000 people, turning it into an international Arctic hub.

What to watch for

Addressing climate change impacts was one of the top three U.S. priorities when they took over leadership of the international forum from Canada in 2015.

But the drastic shift in environmental policy between the Obama and the Trump administrations has many longtime Arctic watchers wondering just how Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Exxon Mobil CEO, will navigate his first Arctic Council ministerial representing the U.S.

As for incoming chair Finland?

Expectations are high for the country as the chairmanship heads back to Europe after four years of North American leadership (Canada 2013-2015, United States 2015-2017), though the dial-down on business and development issues has disappointed some.

So that’s just some of what the U.S. and Finland have on their plates.


And we haven’t even gotten to Russia and the other five other Arctic countries yet.

Who to follow

Eye on the Arctic is travelling to Alaska today and will bring you detailed coverage from Fairbanks all week along with the Eye on the Arctic media partners:

Alaska Dispatch News

Alaska Public Media
with journalists:
Rachel Waldholz @waldholz
Tim Ellis @ltellis1

Yle News, Finland
with journalist:
Pirkko Pöntinen @PirkkoPon

Blogger Heather Exner-Pirot

And covering from around the globe:

The Independent Barents Observer

Radio Sweden

Cryopolitics blogger

Deutsche Welle’s Iceblogger Irene Quaile

You can also use #ArcticCouncil to follow the shenanigans.

And if I’m not in Fairbanks?

The big handover takes place on May 11th and will be livestreamed on the Arctic Council website. Follow @ArcticCouncil for details.



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