Arctic Conference Aims to Provide an Alaskan Voice

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by Russ Slaten

Alaska brings to mind thoughts of the Arctic. Over the past few years we've seen increased maritime traffic and new opportunities for development in the Arctic. When it comes to the far north, Alaska officials are looking to have a seat at the international table.

This week the Institute of the North is engaging Alaskans to become educated and understand the issues at stake in the Arctic.

Known as 'Week of the Arctic' the conference explores nine different issues in six days. Officials said it's a chance to discuss issues from energy to federal policy throughout the Arctic.

The conference brings together leaders in the public and private sector to share information on Arctic policies that may be beneficial to Alaska. They aim to find ways to move forward in a world that's increasingly bringing attention to the Arctic.

Alaska is one of eight nations in the international forum of the Arctic Council. Information from the conference will go to the national delegation for the council and state policymakers. Officials said increasing attention to the far north is more reason to work toward safe and secure operations both on land and off the coast.

"The goal of the Week of the Arctic is that people leave each of the events better educated about current issues and have an opportunity to engage in the issues in a way that allows them to put an Alaska voice to it," said Institute of the North Director Nils Andreassen.

2012 is the second year that Institute of the North, originally founded by former Gov. Walter Hickel, is providing a chance for officials to discuss Arctic policy.

A common theme for the conference was governance. Leaders discussed how Alaska and the Feds manage our assets, how they develop our resources responsibly, and how they can care for our communities.

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