Lecture flyer.

I was able to attend a panel discussion on the Future of the Arctic at the British Library for work on Monday. And it was really interesting!

The panel was made up of a “Panel Chair” to direct the conversation, mediate and encourage questions, and four field experts made up of Alan Kessel (Deputy High Commissioner for Canada), Ed Heartney (Counsellor for ESTH issues at US Embassy London), Lord Teverson (Chair of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Arctic) and Dr. Gabrielle Walker (scientist, author and broadcaster).

And it was a clever mix of people for the panel as Canada is the outgoing Chair of the Arctic Council, and the US will be taking over Chairmanship of the Council from May 2015-2017. And since my next post is Iceland, I was definitely keen to hear what they had to say.

If you’ve not heard of the the Arctic Council, it’s a governmental group made up of members from the countries that ring the Arctic Ocean: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. Their goal is to protect the arctic environment and it’s animal and human populations. It also includes six Arctic indigenous groups, and several other countries have signed up as observers.

The two most dynamic members of the panel were Lord Teverson and Dr. Walker. It was very easy to imagine Lord Teverson arguing points dramatically in the House of Lords as he spoke with strength and confidence and projected his voice to the back of the room. And Dr. Walker was obviously very passionate about issues at both poles, had been to Antarctica (instant favorite), and was able to paint a beautiful mental picture of how she felt on her first visit to the Arctic .

If you’d like to see some of their work, you can read the House of Lords’ report on the Arctic on the UK Parliament website.

And Dr. Walker has published several books that are available on Amazon, including Antarctica, Snowball Earth, An Ocean of Air, and The Hot Topic.

Since Russia is also on the Arctic Council and has made quite controversial headlines in the news this last year, I think the only thing that would’ve made the discussion more interesting was if they’d had a Russian panel member.