The work of the Council is primarily carried out in six Working Groups
The following Indigenous Organization are the Council’s Permanent Participants
The Arctic Coast Guard Forum
The Arctic Coast Guard Forum (ACGF) is an independent, informal, operationally driven organization - not bound by treaty – whose role it is to foster safe, secure, and environmentally responsible maritime activity in the Arctic. All Arctic countries are members of the forum. Chairmanship duties of the ACGF rotate every two years in concert with the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Iceland was the chair for the Forum in 2019 - 2021.
The work of the ACGF is headed by the ACGF Chair and supported by the Secretariat and Working Groups. The Secretariat is responsible for implementing strategic direction and the smooth operation of the ACGF and its Working Groups. Working Groups are subordinate to the Secretariat. The Secretariat and Working Groups are organized in the direction of the principals and reflect issues relevant to member countries of the Arctic. The forum holds two annual meetings every year, which are organized by the chair country.
Strategic goals of the ACGF include strengthening multilateral cooperation and coordination; seeking common solutions to maritime issues; collaboration with the Arctic Council; facilitation of safe and secure maritime activity in the Arctic region: working collaboratively to advance the protection of the marine environment and maximizing the potential for Arctic maritime activities to positively impact the communities, lives, and culture of Arctic communities including Indigenous Peoples.
The Arctic Economic Council
The Arctic Economic Council (AEC) is an independent organization that facilitates Arctic business-to-business activities and responsible economic development through the sharing of best practices, technological solutions, standards, and other information. The AEC was created by the Arctic Council during the 2013-2015 Canadian chairmanship and held its inaugural meeting in Iqaluit, Nunavut on September 2-3, 2014.
AEC's members represent a wide range of businesses operating in the Arctic—from mining and shipping companies to reindeer herding and Indigenous economic development corporations. Representing a variety of Arctic businesses, it is important for the AEC to also be the voice of small and medium sized enterprises. Local knowledge is often key in operating in the Arctic and the AEC provides an opportunity to access both local and Indigenous knowledge. The AEC Secretariat is in Tromsø, Norway.
AEC's work is to facilitate responsible business and economic development of the Arctic and its communities by sharing and advocating best practices, technological solutions, and standards. Its vision is to make the Arctic a favorable place to do business in addition to providing advice and a business perspective to the work of the Arctic Council.
The AEC is open to membership application from Arctic and sub-Arctic entities, corporations, partnerships, and Indigenous groups that have an economic interest in the Arctic.
Icelandic Chairmanship and the Arctic Council (2019-2021): Together Towards a Sustainable Arctic
Sustainable development and protection of the Arctic environment have been at the core of the Arctic Council’s mandate since its foundation in 1996. With rapid environmental changes underway, its role has become ever more important.
The theme of the Arctic Council Chairmanship program for 2019-2021 reflected Iceland’s commitment to the principle of sustainable development and referred to the necessity of close cooperation between the states and peoples of the region and beyond. Emphasis was placed on effective mitigation and adaptation strategies required to address the adverse impacts of Arctic climate change, sustainable economic activities and on seeking balance between the three pillars of sustainable development – economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection.
The Icelandic Chairmanship Program continued supporting many ongoing activities of Working Groups and other subsidiary bodies, as well as introducing several new projects in the Arctic Council work plan for 2019-2021.
With sustainable development as an overarching theme, Iceland highlighted four priorities:
· The Arctic Marine Environment
· Climate and Green Energy Solutions
· People and Communities of the Arctic
· Stronger Arctic Council
The 12th Ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council marked the end of the two-year Icelandic Chairmanship term. It was held on the 20th May 2021 in Iceland and in spite of travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic was successfully executed. Ministers of the eight Arctic States convened with the leaders of the Indigenous Permanent Participants joined the meeting and the eight Foreign Ministers signed the Reykjavik Declaration. Further, marking the 25th anniversary of the Council, its first Strategic Plan was adopted, intended to guide the Council´s work for the next decade.