On 14 December 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs opened a seminar, “Latvia in the Arctic”, which brought together Latvian scientists, business people, public figures and members of public administration, as well as representatives from foreign countries.
The seminar was the first discussion of this kind about the Arctic-related issues, Latvia’s interests in the Arctic and the work of the Arctic Council since the decision by the Latvian government to apply for status of observer to the Arctic Council.
In the first part of the seminar, researchers from the University of Latvia, Kristaps Lamsters and Jānis Karušs, together with entrepreneurs from companies SIA MP Industries, SIA North Grip Innovations and N-LAB association exchanged views on the opportunities offered to Latvia’s businesses by research that Latvian scientists undertake in not only in the Arctic but also the Antarctic in the field such as robotics, clothes manufacturing, and others. Further on during the seminar, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Zane Vāgnere, cultural figures and researchers informed the audience about the potential for building mutual contacts with organisations, companies and people in the Arctic region. The director of the Livonian Institute of the University of Latvia, Valts Ernštreits, how Latvia could share its experience concerning the preservation and digitalisation of the cultural heritage of indigenous people.
In the second part of the seminar, Professor Peter Sköld from Umeå University, informed the audience about the work of the Arctic Council and its principles. A discussion with Prof. Sköld was followed by a presentation given by the Ambassador of Norway to Latvia, Ine Måreng, about Norway’s Arctic policy and potential priorities of action during the Norwegian Presidency of the Arctic Council for 2023–2025.
The discussion was moderated by the journalist Eva Johansone. She conceived the idea of studying nature processes after an expedition in the Arctic in 2017, when following discussions with polar researchers she turned to climate communication topics.
The Arctic is a region where climate change occurs faster than elsewhere around the globe. The proximity of the Arctic to the Baltic Sea region, which has the potential of becoming a kind of testing grounds for mitigation of climate change and for adaptation, has sparked the interest of Latvian scientists, environmental experts and businesses in the region.
Therefore, in 2021, the Government of Latvia decided on the need to apply for observer status in the Arctic Council. Such a status would enable Latvia to bring its contribution to mitigating climate change, gain in-depth knowledge about the ongoing processes in the Arctic region, and be part of them.