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Good morning everyone. This is a room full, I would say. I’m very pleased to be here to welcome you on behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians to IPY 2012 and to the great city of Montreal.
For Canadians, the North is fundamental to our identity. Not only is it home to many people, across Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, it also represents tremendous opportunity.
Since it launched in 2007, International Polar Year has brought together scientists, researchers, policy makers, industry and indigenous peoples to address those challenges and to explore how we might tap into those opportunities.
And while International Polar Year is coming to an end, its legacy will reach far into the future as our collective commitment to Arctic research continues. As the conference title notes, we are merely moving from ‘knowledge to action.’ The impact of knowledge gained through IPY’s activities has already helped to inform the decision-making of governments, industry and communities.
International Polar Year also coincides with our government’s actions to make the North a priority for Canada. The work of the scientists, indigenous peoples, policy makers and others involved in IPY has helped us to develop a more complete understanding of our country’s North. It has provided us with knowledge that will enable us to achieve the priorities laid out in our Northern Strategy. Our government’s Northern Strategy recognizes the opportunities that the North presents and positions us to seize them. It is built upon four key pillars that allow us to unlock the North’s potential. They are exercising our sovereignty, promoting economic and social development, protecting our environmental heritage and improving and devolving Northern governance.
Canada’s Arctic sovereignty is longstanding, well established and based on historic title. We continue to exercise our sovereignty through good governance and responsible stewardship, particularly when it comes to the North’s tremendous resource base. This is why our government has invested so significantly in mapping the energy and mineral potential of the North. And whenever we speak of developing the rich resource base in the North, we also speak of developing regulations, guidelines and standards that must be informed by Arctic science and research, including traditional knowledge so that we are supporting sustainable economic development.
Managed in a sustainable manner, the North’s oil, gas and mineral deposits will create opportunities for indigenous peoples and other northerners to prosper for many generations, leading to healthier, more self-sufficient communities. Our commitments to Arctic science and research are unprecedented in Canada. For example, under the Northern Strategy and Arctic Foreign Policy Statement, our government committed to building a new world class Canadian High Arctic Research Station. This station will provide a year-round presence in the region and anchor the network of research facilities across Canada’s North.
Canada recently affirmed its commitment to building this research station and in the coming months, we will announce next steps in establishing that station. Similarly, we have committed to building a new multi-purpose polar icebreaker that will act as an Arctic science platform and we continue to invest in Northern research facilities. We’ve also committed over $67 million to support the work of ArcticNet from 2011 to 2018. These are just some of the investments we’ve made to support Canada’s interests in the region. Our contribution to IPY further reflects our commitment to the North. We have invested more than $156 million in IPY, one of the largest commitments of any nation to IPY, and the most significant investment the Government of Canada has ever made to northern science.
Over 1,900 Canadian researchers from government, academia and non-governmental organizations undertook research at more than 100 locations across Canada’s North. Our IPY investments helped mobilize the participation of more than 1,800 northerners and over 1,200 students and new researchers.
Going forward, Canada will continue to play a leadership role in Arctic science and research, while working with other Arctic states on issues of common interest.
Canada will be honoured once again to chair the Arctic Council in 2013. We will fully engage northern governments and the Council’s permanent participants to ensure that the Council is positioned to address the challenges facing Northern regions. Specifically, as our statement on Arctic foreign policy makes clear, Canada will focus on three priorities.
First, we will work to ensure there is greater policy dialogue within the Arctic Council and that the organization’s research activities are focused on key emerging issues. Our goal is to link the Council’s research output to its policy work and to deliver concrete outcomes.
Second, we will work to raise the profile of the Arctic Council and its work. As the profile of the Arctic grows, it will be incumbent upon us to strengthen the Council’s profile so that we can increase understanding of the interest of Arctic states and peoples.
Third, we will work to strengthen the organization itself so that it continues to meet the needs of Council members and permanent participants.
We will continue our work with other partners too, including the International Maritime Organization, the Standing Committee of parliamentarians for the Arctic Region, the Northern Forum and the University of the Arctic. This spirit of partnership is also reflected in our work with countries like Russia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland to advance shared interests in the areas of resource development, trade, transportation and scientific cooperation.
So as we move on from IPY 2012, it is the spirit of partnership and collaboration that we’ve seen over the last five years that will allow us to continue increasing our collective knowledge of the North and to take advantage of the economic and social development opportunities the North presents. By working together and respecting the perspectives and knowledge of Northerners, we will ensure that future generations benefit from the work of researchers, industry representatives, policy makers and indigenous peoples who have made IPY so successful. Together, we can sustain this progress, demonstrate responsible stewardship, sustainable development and build strong, healthy polar regions.
Thank you very much.