“Challenges in the Arctic” – WAC 12/4/2015 Event
On December 4 the World Affairs Council offered an event to our members and friends on the Arctic region that featured Representative Rick Larsen, co-founder of the Congressional Arctic Working Group. Representative Larsen was joined by panelists Dr. Nadine Fabbi (Managing Director of the Canadian Studies Center and Arctic and International Relations in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington), Ms. Harkiran Rajasansi (Consul and Program Manager for the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service Section at the Consulate General of Canada in Seattle), and moderator Mr. Matt Morrison (CEO of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region).
Representative Larsen began the event speaking about the importance of the Arctic region, particularly to his second Congressional district, which includes Bellingham, the southern terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway System. Rep. Larsen’s district includes vibrant ship building, fishing, and maritime commerce industries as well, which are all economically conscious of the Arctic region. He emphasized the need for the U.S. to appoint an Ambassador level position to the Arctic Council so that they may report directly to the White House; the U.S. is currently the only member who does not yet have this position. Rep. Larsen concluded his remarks emphasizing that changes to the Arctic necessitate a change in approach to the Arctic.
The panel discussion reviewed the importance of the current UN Climate Change Conference in Paris to the Arctic region, both in terms of climate change but also in consideration of the lives of the native people. For the first time, Canada sent a delegation of Inuits to the conference. The panelists called for the U.S. to focus more energy on the Arctic, and increase the capacity of the State Department in this regard.