At the Arctic Mayors’ Forum (AMF) meeting of board members held online last Monday May 10th it was made clear that the AMF would like to urge the Arctic Council to introduce mechanisms to consult and involve local governments in the Arctic region. The municipalities deal with the consequences of climate change and implement green transition solutions and should therefore be a prime source of input for the Arctic Council and its working groups.

At the meeting Arctic Mayors’ Forum board memebers had an opportunity to discuss the new Arctic strategy for EU with Michael Mann, EU’s Ambassador at Large for the Arctic. The EU strategy for the Arctic will be published by the end of year. ‘Sustainable development, good climate strategies and international cooperation will remain as priorities of the strategy,’ Michael Mann explained and emphasized that he is very open to have a close cooperation and dialogue with local level stakeholders, like Arctic Mayors Forum, to learn from its knowledge and experience. The AMF left a contribution to EU’s consultation of the strategy, emphasizing, that EU should pursue local and regional stakeholder involvement in the shaping of the Arctic future.

“I was very pleased to be invited to meet with AMF, who have already provided very useful input as we update our Arctic policy. Local and regional authorities have a vital role to play in getting the best out of EU Arctic programmes and funds. While we can set the parameters, local expertise is vital in making sure the programmes are best tailored to conditions on the ground. I look forward to working closely with AMF and its members in the months and years to come,” says Michael Mann.

The Icelandic presidency of the Arctic Council has been open to dialog with the AMF and there has been established an informal contact with the Sustainable Development Working Group.

“We very much appreciate the openness of the Icelandic presidency and are looking forward to continue to develop the dialogue with the incoming Russian chairmanship”, says Ásthildur Sturludóttir, Chair of AMF and Mayor of Akureyri, Iceland.

Arctic Mayors’ Forum is now establishing a permanent secretariat in Tromsø, Norway. AMFs mission is to ensure local government participation of mayors and elected community leaders in all levels of Arctic governance to safeguard that the values, goals and interests of the Arctic peoples are voiced in policy decision-making processes.

This is an important milestone for local democracy and Arctic cooperation. It is of great importance that Mayors and elected leaders from northern local governments get organized to exchange experiences, to define shared challenges and opportunities and voice their opinion”, underlines Ásthildur Sturludóttir.

The AMF provides a collaborative platform for cooperation and coordination between the members of the Arctic Mayors’ Forum and with other national, regional and international institutions. The members and observers of the AMF represent all Arctic countries.

 “The goal is to ensure that the local perspective is taken into account when decisions concerning the Arctic are taken by national governments and international institutions. It is of vital importance that the people living the north shall have a say in the discussion about sustainable socio-economic development, environmental protection and climate change,” Ásthildur Sturludóttir concludes.

The island of Grímsey is a part of Akureyri Municipality in Iceland. Grímsey is a gem on the Arctic Circle, just 40 km off the north coast of Iceland.