GLACIER conference brings together Arctic policy makers, stakeholders

Alaska is readying to host a rare high-profile meeting of international diplomats focusing on the challenges facing Arctic communities.

Organized by the U.S. State Department, today’s GLACIER conference brings 450 policy-makers and stakeholders from 20 countries to Anchorage. All eight Arctic nations are represented, but so are many observer states like China, India, and the EU, who have political and economic interests in the
high north.

This year, the U.S. started its three year term as head of the Arctic Council, taking over from Canada. Many in Alaska are hoping the conference represents a commitment from Washington to play a more active role confronting climate change, rural and indigenous issues, and lagging infrastructure investment in the region.

The conference also brings the first official visit from Presient Obama, who’ll be speaking at the closing session.

With climate change a large part of Obama’s agenda, the president will be visiting a retreating glacier in Seward, the fishing town of Dillingham near the site of the controversial Pebble Mine project, and the
predominantly Inupiaq community of Kotzebue, making him the first sitting president to visit the Arctic.

Obama is using the trip as an opportunity to announce new initiatives on climate, government relations with indigenous tribes, and wildlife management.