29 February 2016
Washington DC, USA

Wilson Center Polar Initiative Roundtable

The Wilson Center Polar Initiative is an awareness-raising project on Arctic and Antarctic issues focused at American audience. The Polar Initiative convenes and fosters discussion on research and programmatic activity on Arctic and Antarctic issues to investigate the geopolitical, human, and environmental challenges of the Polar Regions. The initiative is a multi-program effort to coordinate activity and encourage investigation of important areas of the world that takes advantage of Wilson Center expertise in a variety of regions and issue areas.

Courtesy of www.wilsoncenter.org

Courtesy of www.wilsoncenter.org

The Roundtable convened some 40 participants in Washington D.C., mainly from USA, Russia and shipping industry. Ambassador Mark Brzezinski, Director of the U.S. Arctic Executive Committee gave an opening speech, and other speakers were Dr. Heike Deggim (IMO; by Skype), Senator Lisa Murkowski, Mr. Mead Treadwell (President of Pt Capital), Prof. Lawson Brigham (University of Alaska Fairbanks), Mr. Michael Kingston (DWF) and Prof. Alexander Sergunin. Mr. Tero Vauraste (President and CEO of Arctia Ltd, Co-Chair of Arctic Economic Council, AFI Core Group member) represented concluding remarks.

Ambassador Hannu Halinen, as the Special Advisor to Professor Pavel Kabat, Director and CEO of IIASA, was one of the policy level representatives, representing IIASA and the Arctic Futures Initiative (AFI). In his speech, Ambassador Halinen indicated a number of points where the AFI can contribute to the interest of the roundtable, such as the “need for collaborative science”, “inventory of what science has accomplished in the Arctic" and "a strong stakeholder model for risk assessment and management".

Background on Wilson Center The geopolitical changes resulting from the end of the Cold War, ongoing climate change, and the potential for greater economic and resource development have increased the strategic importance of the Polar Regions. Managing the many changes emerging—including, but not limited to, environmental, economic, security, and human security issues—demands bringing together U.S. expertise. Other organizations in Washington D.C. center on the Arctic issues, but no other group focuses on the Antarctic, and none seriously looks at economic, human, and environmental issues.

Areas of focus:

• People (indigenous communities, resilience, health, mental health), fishing and scientific cooperation

• Energy, particularly building on the Arctic energy publication by the Wilson Center (deep sea, on-shore, off-shore)

• Business and economic initiatives and business/government cooperation (Arctic Economic Council, corporate social responsibility, social license)

• Maritime transportation (mapping, sea routes, search and rescue, infrastructure, insurance)

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Last edited: 26 April 2016


Anni Reissell

Guest Research Scholar

Exploratory and Special Projects

T +43(0) 2236 807 678


Hannu Halinen

Special Advisor to the IIASA Director General and Chief Executive Officer

Exploratory and Special Projects

T +43(0) 2236 807 351


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