In cooperation with Alaskan partners and authorities, the Arctic Circle convened on August 23-25, 2015 a forum on sea routes and shipping at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Alaska.
The forum was the first in a series of specialized Arctic Circle forums that are held in other countries in addition to the annual Assembly in Reykjavík, Iceland.
The Alaska Forum was attended by over 200 participants from the US, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Singapore, and other countries. and included business and political leaders, experts, and representatives of indigenous communities. Among the speakers were President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson; Governor of Alaska Bill Walker; Admiral Robert J Papp, Secretary of State John Kerry's Special Representative for the Arctic; Scott Minerd, Global Chief Investment Officer of Guggenheim Partners; Fran Ulmer, Chair of the United States Arctic Research Commission; Felix Tschudi, Chairman of Tschudi Group; and Senator Lisa Murkowski. The Forum, which was titled "The Alaskan Arctic, a Summit on Shipping and Ports" was organized by Alice Rogoff, Founder of Alaska Dispatch News.
The goal of the Forum was to articulate plans and facilitate partnerships for developing safe, secure and reliable shipping through the Arctic, with a focus on the Bering Sea and other northern sea routes. At this stage of Arctic development, public- and private-sector cooperation is essential to good outcomes. Similar partnerships in the past helped create the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Panama and Suez Canals.
The discussions were organized around the following goals:
- Plans for safe and reliable global shipping practices that protect the hunting and fishing activities of our Arctic residents and our environment
- Public, private and intergovernmental cooperation models to produce the necessary infrastructure investments to reach these goals
- The establishment of a task force that will develop further partnerships necessary to offer global shippers a regular, safe, secure and reliable shipping system in the Arctic
The forum builds on the success of the Arctic Imperative Summits convened in Alaska in 2011 and 2012 and the Arctic Circle Assemblies in Iceland in 2013 and 2014.
In the emerging Arctic maritime commerce sector, partnerships will be necessary to finance needed ports of refuge, search and rescue equipment, transshipment facilities and icebreakers. At the same time, the interests of local and indigenous residents must be an integral part of any development planning.