The Arctic is finally up on the EU agenda! Melting of glacier and ice sheets in the Arctic has large consequences not only to the Arctic wild lives and communities but the whole world.

With every degree of temperature increase globally, Arctic increases twice as much – Arctic amplification. This will speed up the Arctic ice melting and open up new transportation routes in the summer. With rich natural resources in the Arctic and shorter sea transportation lines, many non-arctic countries starts to pay attention to the Arctic: China, India, Korean, Japan etc. Economic and security issues are brought up.

Many famous people attended the first day of the EU Arctic Forum in Aula Nordica in Umeå last week, for example The Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini,  and the former Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström.

The first panel discussion was attended by seven Ministers for Foreign Affairs.  The discussions this first day was about topics such as international cooperation in the Arctic, sustainable investments in the Arctic and Connecting the Arctic.

The second day was held in P5, Väven, a much smaller place with a hard to find entrance, hard to get registered into, and hard to see all the panels on the stage. Is this just a coincidence? When three of us walking in the cold and drizzling snow flakes, looking for the entrance to the Väven, the feeling of Indigenous people’s life seems much closer to our body experience. As pointed out by the Greenland panelist, one flag was missing besides the EU and Swedish flags on the stage: Sámi flag. It will take a while for the EU to catch up with the local communities on the Arctic issues.

Jing Helmersson
researcher at Vaartoe (Centre for Sámi Research) Umeå University