On May 28, 2015, U.S. Embassy Oslo and National Geographic Society co-hosted a seminar and reception to discuss challenges and opportunities in the Arctic, and to celebrate the beginning of the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The sixty-some guests were from NGOs, research institutions, businesses and embassies of Arctic Council countries and observer states.
After Chargé d’affaires Julie Furuta-Toy had welcomed guests, National Geographic CEO Gary Knell spoke about the mission of National Geographic to inspire, illuminate and teach. He emphasized the need to encourage not only awareness, but also a sense of wonder in the natural world. National Geographic explorer and expert diver Paul Rose then spoke about his work with the National Geographic project Pristine Seas, as well as his work in the Arctic and Antarctic, and the importance of cooperation between nations and with indigenous peoples living in the Arctic. He emphasized the importance of inquisitive minds of explorers and researchers in the Arctic, and also said one important role for continued exploring is to get people engaged.
The three thematic areas of the U.S. Chairmanship are focused on improving economic and living conditions in Arctic communities; ensuring Arctic Ocean safety, security and stewardship; and addressing the impacts of climate change. All these issues were touched upon in the panel debate with Gunn-Britt Retter, representative from the Saami Council; Paul Rose, National Geographic Explorer; and Kim Holmén, International Director of the Polar Institute. Retter emphasized how livelihoods in the Arctic depend on clean ecosystems, and Rose said that sustainability work should be led by Arctic peoples. Holmén pointed out that we need open and transparent sharing of information and data in the Arctic, following the theme of the U.S. chairmanship of “One Arctic.”