Polar law at EU-Arctic events

UNAK’s Polar Law Students at the Heart of EU-Arctic Relations in Brussels
Polar law at EU-Arctic events

On May 14th and 15th, the EU invited policymakers, Indigenous People, and youth to participate in three high-level events on EU-Arctic relations hosted by the EU Commission in Brussels: the EU Arctic Forum, the Indigenous Peoples' Dialogue, and the Arctic Youth Dialogue.

Amongst those invited to contribute were two current students in Polar law and a former exchange student at UNAK.

Niall Janssen was selected to represent the interests of Arctic youth in the first EU Arctic Youth Dialogue, a project funded by the EU and organised by the WWF’s Global Arctic Programme. For this dialogue, 32 Arctic and European youths from diverse backgrounds came together and exchanged their Arctic realities and priorities to prepare recommendations for the EU’s Arctic policy in four subgroups on climate action, Arctic Ocean management, human development, and youth participation. The found recommendations were presented to the EU Commission on Wednesday. For the next four years, the Arctic Youth Dialogue will bring together a new group of youths to prepare and present recommendations each year.

"..EU high-level with youths, locals and Indigenous Peoples.."

About his week in Brussels, Niall said: “In Brussels, I have seen that the European Union is an impactful actor in the Arctic and that as long as it continuously puts Arctic Indigenous and Youth voices front and centre and applies a precautionary approach to all its policies in the Arctic, it can be a reliable and appreciated partner in Arctic governance.”

Adrià Medina-Altarriba attended on behalf of a foundation that supports the financing of innovation in the private and public sectors. He also used the opportunity to work with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the new national Polar Strategy.

Adrià remarked: “It was remarkable to see EU high-level representatives sit side-by-side with youths, locals and Indigenous Peoples, whose voices should be further included in Arctic policy. It makes me proud to know that the Arctic Officers of the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs are actively willing to take them into account.”

Justus Lehtisaari, former exchange student, represented a Finnish youth-led NGO. He was happy to catch up with old friends and meet other like-minded people interested in the Arctic at the event.

Justus summarised his experience in Brussels in these words: “I was pleased to see that the European Commission was willing to open the space for so many young and Indigenous voices regarding the future of the Arctic, and would like to call upon the EU to keep those voices involved continuously and at all steps of the policy-making cycle.”

In participating in these high-level events, Niall, Adrià, and Justus gained an insight into the exchanges informing the EU’s Arctic policies, had the chance to network with a wide variety of people interested in the world’s northern pole, and were inspired by youth and Indigenous leadership.

Once again, UNAK's Polar Law students take the insights from their studies out into the world to where Arctic policies are informed and decisions are being made.