Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has caused a radical geopolitical shift among the international community, but it has also brought the global dependence on fossil fuels and rare minerals into sharp focus, as well as the collaborative spirit of the Arctic community.
To address the situation in Ukraine as well as its effects on the Arctic region, Sen. Angus King of Maine, co-chair of the U.S. Senate Arctic Caucus, will head a special session on “The New Future of the Arctic” on June 3 at 9 a.m. at the University of New England’s Portland Campus.
This discussion will examine how Arctic nations can demonstrate leadership in the transition to green energy solutions as well as the secure and sustainable supply of critical raw materials to reduce dependence on unreliable, or undesirable, sources. A key consideration in this question is the rights of Indigenous peoples and tribes of the High North. The aim of the session is to raise considerations for policymakers and researchers to address as these efforts move forward.
“This is a pivotal moment in time, and the Arctic is a focal point where energy, climate, and military conversations are coming to a head,” reflected Sen. King (I-Maine). “I’m looking forward to hearing the input from the assembly members to inform my work in the Senate.”
The special session will cap off the UArctic Assembly meeting, held for the first time in Portland from June 1-3. The assembly is the annual meeting of the University of the Arctic, a 165-member network of universities, colleges, research institutes, and other organizations concerned with education and research in and about the Arctic and northern regions of the world.
The University of New Hampshire, University of Maine, and Dartmouth College will join the University of Southern Maine and the University of New England as they co-host the assembly, which will be held at USM’s Abromson Center on June 1 and UNE’s Innovation Hall on June 2 and 3.
The event will include participants from Canada, the United Kingdom, Greenland, Iceland, France, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and China and from across the U.S. The three-day conference will also include the New England Arctic Network Research symposium and a meeting of indigenous youth from New England and the Arctic for this first-of-its-kind gathering.
“We are looking forward to finally being able to meet together with all of our members in Maine,” stated UArctic President Lars Kullerud. “The Arctic is once again facing significant challenges to cooperation, but we know that the UArctic network and academic engagement generally are more important than ever.”
This is the first time the UArctic Assembly has been held in the contiguous 48 states.
“The fact that UArctic has chosen Maine as the location for this global gathering underscores our state’s emerging leadership in North Atlantic and Arctic initiatives,” remarked UNE President James D. Herbert, Ph.D. “It is a great honor to partner with USM and other regional institutions to sponsor this worldwide conference.”
“The University of Southern Maine is honored to join UNE and the other schools to host this extraordinary event,” offered Glenn Cummings, Ed.D., president of USM. “Such work is even more important at this time, when only cooperative efforts can bring about needed changes to face the Arctic’s challenges. Together, discussions like these can lead to solutions to ongoing threats to our long-term sustainability and can rejuvenate relationships for trade and economic activity. Maine’s future depends crucially upon these connections.”
The full list of speakers at the June 3 session include:
- Lars Kullerud, President of UArctic
- Angus S. King Jr., U.S. Senator for Maine
- Drew Horn, Founder and CEO of GreenMet
- Karla J. Williamson, Assistant Professor, University of Saskatchewan
- Kjell Stokvik, Manager of Nord University’s Centre for High North Logistics
- Melody Brown Burkins, Director of the Institute of Arctic Studies, Dartmouth College
- Justin Milton, Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), Nunavut
- James DeHart, U.S. Coordinator for the Arctic Region, U.S. State Department
- Catherina Hvistendahl, First Secretary, Greenland Representation in Washington, D.C
This event is co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Maine and Maine North Atlantic Development Office at the Maine International Trade Center. Registration for this event is available at the World Affairs Council of Maine website.