“Adapting To Change: UK policy towards the Arctic”

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written statement – made on 17th October 2013.

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Photo of Mark Simmonds Mark Simmonds The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

I would like to inform the House that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is today publishing the Government’s Arctic policy framework, “Adapting To Change: UK policy towards the Arctic”.

The framework sets out the detail of the UK’s interests in the Arctic, how we will work with Arctic states and the wider international community, and what expertise the UK can offer to help meet some of the long-term challenges facing the region.

In doing so, we will respect the sovereign rights of the Arctic states to exercise jurisdiction over their territory; the views and interests of people who live and work in the Arctic; and the Arctic environment, its fragility and its central importance to the global climate.

We will work towards an Arctic that is safe and secure; well-governed in conjunction with indigenous peoples and international law. We will promote Arctic policies that are developed on the basis of sound science and have full regard to the environment. We will promote an Arctic where only responsible development takes place.

We will support the Arctic Council as the pre-eminent regional forum for discussing Arctic issues and actively encourage wider dialogue on Arctic matters of global importance. We will promote UK Arctic science, encourage more international collaboration and continue to fund top-class research to increase understanding of the changes in the Arctic. We will play a leading role in diplomatic efforts to avoid dangerous climate change and support the principle of designating Marine Protected Areas in international waters where science supports it. We will facilitate responsible business activity in the region by UK companies and advocate for the highest environmental and drilling standards.

Fundamentally, leadership for Arctic stewardship rests with the eight Arctic states and the peoples within those states. However, where appropriate we will show leadership on Arctic matters of global importance, such as understanding the effects of Arctic climate change on global processes, and we will work co-operatively with Arctic states and other international partners on issues that affect UK interests in the fields of governance, environment and commerce.

I have placed copies of the Arctic policy framework in the Libraries of both Houses. It is also available on: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adapting-to-change-uk-policy-towards-the-arctic.