Arctic parliamentarians wrap up meeting in Whitehorse
Parliamentary delegates from eight Arctic countries have spent this week in Whitehorse talking, listening and examining the challenges across the North, something they say doesn't always top the agenda in their capitals.
"All the time I've been there, we've never had a debate on Arctic issues in Parliament," said N.W.T. MP Dennis Bevington. "But here we do discuss Arctic issues among other parliamentarians."
The delegates from Canada, U.S., Denmark, Russia, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden spent the last few days at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre discussing development, the environment and governance in the North and creating recommendations they hope national leaders will notice.
"What we must not forget is that there are people living in the Arctic," said Sara Olsvig, the member of Danish Parliament for Greenland, and co-chair of the conference.
"That is what makes the Arctic different from, for example, the Antarctic, and one aspect that we need to develop more is to talk about the welfare of those people."
Delegates created 47 recommendations for their governments to consider. They're looking to get closer co-operation among coast guards in Arctic countries; they hope to explore new areas for legally binding agreements and hope for more co-operation and ways to include indigenous voices in decision making.
The gathering happens every other year but another recommendation suggests they begin meeting annually.
The next Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region will happen in Russia in 2016.