Month of the Arctic
The Institute of the North is halfway through its Week of the Arctic and glad to see the remarkable results thus far. With nearly 600 people signed up for a diverse range of activities over the course of the Week - most of whom are able to make one or two of the nine, but some who are with us for the entirety - it's been great to have knowledgeable speakers who clearly understand the issues; Alaskans with us who are interested in learning more and contributing to the policy discussion; and relationships being built and strengthened throughout. That's exactly what the Week was designed to do.
It's been interesting to hear comparisons prior to and during the Week between the Alaska Dispatch's Arctic Imperative and the Institute's Week of the Arctic. I can't say I blame people for asking the questions of how these are different or why they're so close together. I want to take just a moment to explain the Institute's perspective, and celebrate the fact that they are (different and timely).
The Institute of the North's Week of the Arctic is designed to provide a suite of options for Alaskans to choose from, consistent with our mission to inform public policy and cultivate an engaged citizenry. Each of the nine events during the Week are distinct in process, program, audience and outcomes. For instance, the same people who came to a Federal Research presentation may not attend a Northern Energy Science Fair, nor will they have the same experience. The same is true for the workshops during the Week, and the Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award Dinner recognizing Red Dog on Friday night. That said, we hope that people who come to one of the events leave more aware of an Arctic issue; that speakers and participants have contributed something to the policy discussions taking place in the state, as well as nationally and internationally; and that Alaskans have a chance to engage with an issue and share their perspective. The Week's activities have been open to all and public participation is encouraged.
The Week of the Arctic is very different than the Arctic Imperative, which is designed - again, from my perspective - to be a high-level discussion of investment opportunities in Alaska's Arctic. The Imperative has an impressive list of speakers, who through their presentations over the course of the weekend will share the challenges, needs, and opportunities for addressing some critical issues facing the state. This kind of discussion has to be intentional about who is in the room so that the right connections can be made and sidebar discussions result in something tangible. The proceedings are all webcast so Alaskans around the state can watch. The Imperative and the Week of the Arctic invited very different speakers and I'm very glad to see the calibre at both. The participants and speakers at both are the right people to have in the room.
Alaskans benefit from the degree to which both events put a spotlight on these increasingly important issues. The rate and scale of change taking place, and the rapid increase in activity off Alaska's coast, means that we all have a real stake in what's going on. Which brings me back to timing.
The Week of the Arctic has taken place during - and will continue to do so - the week of Governor Hickel's birthday, August 18. It's important to the Institute to recognize Hickel, as an Arctic Statesman and the Institute's founder, during this period. I'm glad to see the Imperative scheduled for the week following our activities and I'm looking forward to participating in what promises to be a valuable event. This Week's activities are wrapping up but you can find out more at http://www.institutenorth.org/woa To re.gister for the Arctic Imperative, visit http://www.arcticimperative.com.
It's the right time for Alaskans to be paying keen interest to these issues. We're all in this together; it's great to have the Imperative's help in highlighting topics that are also important to the Institute and all Alaskans. The Alaska Dispatch recently noted that both events make August the Month of the Arctic. I agree wholeheartedly.
Nils Andreassen, Executive Director