Portland, ME - A delegation of 45 Mainers from businesses and academia will attend the upcoming Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland October 16-18, 2015 looking to build Arctic business and education networks and to learn about key issues in the Arctic that are affecting the world. The Maine North Atlantic Development Office (MENADO), a program of Maine International Trade Center is organizing the delegation.
“We are excited to see the amount of interest growing from Maine in the North Atlantic since the Gubernatorial Trade Mission to Reyjavik ,” comments George Gervais, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. “The Trade Center and MENADO have been building trade and investment relationships in this region over the past two years and the size of this delegation is a testament to its success.”
The annual Arctic Circle Assembly has become the largest international gathering on the Arctic, attended by more than 1500 participants from close to 50 countries. The Assembly is held every October at the Harpa Conference Hall in Reykjavík, Iceland.The event is designed to increase participation in Arctic dialogue and to strengthen the international focus on the future of the Arctic.
Maine voices will be featured in breakout sessions at the event, including Dr. Barry Costa-Pierce, Director of the Marine Science Center at University of New England, Patrick Arnold, Director of Operations & Business Development for the Maine Port Authority, journalist, geographer and photographer Wilfred Richard of Georgetown, Maine and MENADO Director, Dana Eidsness. Maine participants will present on topics that will range from The Emerging North Atlantic Seafood Ecosystem, to Maine and North Atlantic Seafood Trade, to Climate and Cultural Change above the Arctic Circle and a Western Nordic Development workshop that will explore how Atlantic neighbors to the West Nordic Region from Maine, Canada, Norway and Great Britain can contribute to this region’s development. Senator Angus S. King will lead a plenary session at the event titled; U.S. Leadership in the Arctic.
Members of Maine’s delegation will attend and present in conference sessions, and many have scheduled off-site meetings during the week. The group includes representation from University of Southern Maine, including professors, expert staff and President Glenn Cummings. St. Joseph’s College and University of New England are sending faculty and high level administration to build educational partnerships, opportunities for Maine students and all are exploring how their institutions can support Maine’s North Atlantic economic development efforts. Greg Mitchell, Economic Development Director for the City of Portland will join Maine’s group, to follow up conversations with the City of Reykjavik delegation that visited Portland on October 7th.
Maine businesses participating include Rambøll Environ, the Maine subsidiary of a Danish-owned, global engineering and consulting firm that has extensive involvement in economic development and infrastructure projects throughout the Arctic, members of Verrill Dana’s newly-established North Atlantic and Arctic Practice Group and Maine’s Timber + Ice project; an idea developed by two artists with strong connections to the Maine contemporary art community, who will manage the exchange of art and design between Portland and Arctic locations, using shipping containers as both transportation and exhibition space.
Pierce Atwood LLP, supporting advisor of MENADO is meeting with clients Eimskip and Iceland’s Ocean Cluster in Reykjavik and will host a networking dinner for the Maine delegation and invited guests from the Arctic Circle Assembly. “Maine has significant intellectual capital and business expertise to mobilize towards solutions in this region; the Arctic Circle Assembly is an event where Maine can demonstrate this,” comments Chris Howard, Pierce Atwood Partner and MENADO Advisory Committee Chair.
Maine’s participation in the Arctic Circle Assembly is one of a number of Maine-Arctic-related activities slated over the next year, leading up to Maine hosting two Arctic Council meetings in fall of 2016. The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic states, Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. The U.S. has Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, 2015-2017 and has selected Portland, Maine as the location for a Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) Working Group meeting and a Senior Arctic Officials meeting. Participants from the 8 Arctic Nations, permanent participants groups and 12 official Observer nations, including China, Japan, Germany, Republic of Korea and Singapore among others will send delegates to Portland for these meetings in September and October of 2016.