Arctic Economic Council

The Arctic Economic Council (AEC) is an independent international business membership organisation representing companies that work with and within the Arctic. The AEC advocates sustainable economic development in the region and represents a business perspective on sustainability. The AEC is the only regional business organisation in the Arctic and has members from all eight Arctic states.

Arctic Economic Council (AEC)
FormationEstablished 2–3 September 2014
Founded atIqaluit, Nunavut, Canada
TypeIndependent international business membership organisation
PurposeFacilitating business-to-business activities and responsible economic development
HeadquartersTromsø, Norway

Within its working groups, the Council aims to investigate framework conditions that would support business development and attract investments to the Arctic in a responsible manner and to the benefit of the local economies and population.[1] Based on that, the AEC provides advice to the relevant policy-making stakeholders, including the Arctic Council. The AEC also provides a network for companies through its working groups and communicate to the general public about the business opportunities in the Arctic.

The AEC was founded on 2 September 2014 in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada.[2] The headquartersare based in Tromsø, Norway.[3] The council’s members are both multinational companies (MNCs) as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) based and / or operating in the Arctic region, as well as Indigenous (circumpolar peoples) organisations as permanent participants.


The AEC history is closely connected – yet independent from – the Arctic Council (AC). The AC, whose two major focus areas are environmental protection and sustainable development, has acknowledged the lack of business perspective on these issues.[4] The AC Ministerial Meeting in May 2013 in Kiruna recognised the central role of business in the development of the Arctic and addressed the gap in communication with the regional business community.[5]

The Arctic Council called for the creation of a forum where northerners and northern business enterprises could share ideas, solutions and exchange best practices with regards to social corporate responsibility, public-private partnerships (PPPs), community resilience, and capacity building of the Arctic populations.[6] From this point on, a Task Force to Establish the Circumpolar Business Forum (TFCBF) was dedicated to this project, under the Canadian Chairmanship of the AC.

The official founding of the AEC happened in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada, on 2–3 September 2014. The headquarters for the Arctic Economic Council was opened by the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende, and head of the AEC Executive Committee, Tara Sweeney, on 8 September 2015 in Tromsø, Norway.[7]

Today, the AEC is an independent business organisation that runs on membership fees.[8]

The AEC has had two directors. The current director is Mads Qvist Frederiksen.[9]


The Arctic Economic Council was created to facilitate business opportunities, trade, and investment in a fair, inclusive and environmentally sound manner. It promotes cross-border business cooperation and attracts investments to the Arctic by developing commercial ties between the Arctic and the global economy.[10]

At the same time, it collects and disseminates the best practices, through technological solutions, or the creation of business standards. Moreover, the AEC helps small and medium-sized enterprises, including that of Indigenous communities, to take part in the Arctic economic and business dialogue.

To do so, the AEC proceeds in the following sectors:

  • Infrastructure and related matters including maritime transportation, communications and IT, and aviation;
  • Energy, including oil, gas, and renewables;
  • Mining;
  • Tourism;
  • Blue economy; and
  • Human resources investments and capacity building.[11]

The AEC works with a range of stakeholders. For instance, some of them are the European Union, the International Maritime Organisation, the Arctic Council, the University of the Arctic (UArctic), the World Economic Forum, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Wilson Center), or even the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI). The AEC has been influential in highlighting the role of sustainable economic development and business in the Arctic for almost a decade.

Membership and StructureEdit


The AEC is composed over thirty five member companies, from the eight Arctic states (Canada, Denmark, including the Faroes and Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and the United States), it has also members from the non-Arctic states (Greece, Switzerland, France), and Permanent Participant organisations (the Aleut International Association (AIA), the Inuit Circumpolar Council[12] (ICC), the Arctic Athabaskan Council[13] (AAC), and the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North[14] (RAIPON) ). The AEC's members are all business representatives. These are divided into four categories:

  • the Legacy Members, who have voting rights;[1]
  • the Permanent Participant organisations, who have voting rights;
  • the Arctic Partners, composed of business representatives both from the Arctic states and non-Arctic states;
  • the Permafrost Partners, who represent Arctic SMEs.[15]

Multinationals, as well as small and medium enterprises, can, and have, become members of the AEC, as long as they operate in the Arctic region.


Executive CommitteeEdit

The Executive Committee (EC) is a decision-making body normally consisting of four representatives and the AEC Chair, guiding the work of the Council. EC members represent companies based in Arctic states as well as Indigenous organisations.[16] The EC is currently chaired by Russia and the other members are the outgoing chair (Iceland), the incoming chair (Norway), one more member (Finland) and the representative from the indigenous organisation (AIA).[citation needed]

AEC's headquartersEdit

The headquarters in Tromsø provides administrative and organisational support to the AEC.[16] It also runs communication and outreach, and facilitates networking events. It is run by the director and is co-located with NHO Arctic.


The AEC Chairmanship rotates every two years from an Arctic state to another, mirroring the chairmanship of the Arctic Council.[16] For the period 2021–2023, Russia chairs the AEC. In May 2023, Norway will take over the chairmanship.

List of the AEC's Chairs over the years
Date Country Chairperson Company
2015-2017 United-States of America Tara Sweeney[17] Tack 71
2017-2019 Finland[18] Tero Vauraste ICEYE[19][20]
2019-2021 Iceland Heiðar Guðjónsson Sýn hf. (Vodafone)[21]
2021-2023 Russia Evgeny Ambrosov Novatek[22]


Working groupsEdit

On 2–3 September 2014, the five working groups (WGs) were established to conceptualise, develop projects, provide funding and administrative support, and report back to the AEC on their progress.[4] The working groups (WG) represent different industry clusters. The Working Groups can change over time depending on their mandate. The current working groups are:

  • The Maritime Transport Working Group focuses on the collection and exchange of information on national and international maritime traffic in the Arctic, related regulations, and the development and status of hydrographic charting.[23]
  • The Investment and Infrastructure Working Group focuses on strengthening responsible investment guidelines and economic growth in the Arctic region.[24]
  • The Responsible Resource Development Working Group focuses on investigating challenges and investment drivers for natural resource exploration and development in the Arctic.[25]
  • The Connectivity Working Group is assessing different technological and infrastructural solutions to connect the Arctic's most remote regions to the rest of the world to stimulate economic growth in the region.[26] The Connectivity Working Group has developed an investment matrix for investors in the Arctic.[27]
  • The Blue Economy Working Group is facilitating the creation of a pan-Arctic alliance of ocean clusters to leverage knowledge, expertise and funding instruments across the region to accelerate product development and economic growth in the sector.[26]

Relationship with the Arctic CouncilEdit

The Arctic Economic Council Secretariat and the Arctic Council Secretariat are both located in Tromsø, Norway. This provides greater opportunities for close cooperation. The current relationship between the Arctic Economic Council (AEC) and the Arctic Council (AC) is based on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in May 2019, in Rovaniemi, Finland.[28][21][29] The document is the result of the 2017 Fairbanks Declaration, which mentions on several occasions the Arctic Economic Council. In the Memorandum, the Arctic States’ Ministers sought greater cooperation between the two institutions in order "to enhance responsible economic development and to build partnerships for issues of common interest and capacity building of Arctic inhabitants".

The first joint meeting between the AEC and the AC was held in Reykjavik, Iceland.[30] The meeting focused on "marine transportation and blue economy, telecommunications connectivity, responsible resource development and mainstream biodiversity, as well as on responsible investments and corporate social responsibility". After that, the experts from the AC working groups took part in the AEC working group meetings.

On 20 May 2021, the Arctic Council released a Strategic Plan for the period 2021–2030.[31] One of the goals in the strategic plan is to strengthen cooperation between the Arctic Council and AEC.

Other international partnerships of the Arctic Economic Council
Document Organisation Year
MoU[32] Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region 2021[33]
MoU[34] St. Petersburg Committee for Arctic Affairs 2021[35][36]
MoU[37] Arctic Council 2019[38]
MoU[39] University of the Arctic (UArctic) 2018
MoU World Economic Forum 2018

Relationship with the World Economic ForumEdit

AEC work builds on the Arctic Investment Protocol (AIP), originally produced by the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Arctic Agenda Council,[40] and which the AEC has been hosting and promoting since 2017.[41] According to the AIP, when investing in the Arctic, businesses must follow the six following principles:[42]

  • Build resilient societies through economic development;
  • Respect and include local communities and Indigenous peoples;
  • Pursue measures to protect the environment of the Arctic;
  • Practice responsible and transparent business model;
  • Consult and integrate science and traditional ecological knowledge; and
  • Strengthen pan-Arctic collaboration and sharing of best practices.[11]

National strategies, policies, white papers, and others referring to the AECEdit

The AEC is mentioned in several national strategies and policies referring to the Arctic.

Jurisdiction Last Arctic strategy
policy (year)
  United Kingdom 2023[43]
  India 2022[44]
  France 2022[45]
  Iceland 2021[46]
  European Union, Commission 2021[47]
  European Union, Parliament 2021[48]
  Finland 2021[49]
  Netherlands 2021[50]
  Poland 2021[51]
  Russia 2020[52]
  Sweden 2020[53]
  Canada 2019[54]
  Scotland 2019[55]
  United Kingdom 2018[56]
  Spain 2016[57]
  France 2016[58]
  JapanJapan 2015[59]

Further readingEdit


  1. ^ a b Vauraste, Tara Sweeney & Tero. "Arctic Economic Council: Creating Parameters for Sustainable Economic Development in the Arctic".
  2. ^ "Founding Meeting of the Arctic Economic Council Scheduled". Arctic Council.
  3. ^ "Arctic Economic Council Secretariat opens in Tromsø". Arctic Council.
  4. ^ a b Natalia Loukacheva, "Arctic Economic Council – The Origins,The," Yearbook of Polar Law 7 (2015): 225–248
  5. ^ "Kiruna Declaration" (PDF). Arctic Forum. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Arctic forum to take on business focus under Aglukkaq". CBC. Archived from the original on 29 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Official opening of the Arctic Economic Council Secretariat Tromsø". Arctic Economic Council. 11 September 2015.
  8. ^ "Join". Arctic Economic Council. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  9. ^ Jonassen, Text Trine. "New Director of the Arctic Economic Council". Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  10. ^ "Arctic forum to take on business focus under Aglukkaq | CBC News".
  11. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 May 2021. Retrieved 17 June 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "ICC Greenland". Arctic Economic Council.
  13. ^ "Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC)". Arctic Economic Council.
  14. ^ "Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON)". Arctic Economic Council.
  15. ^ "Membership Dues & Classes" (PDF). Arctic Economic Council.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ a b c "Rules of Procedure" (PDF). Arctic Economic Council. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 July 2021.
  17. ^ "PRESS RELEASE: AEC Congratulates Tara Sweeney". Arctic Economic Council. 29 June 2018.
  18. ^ "Chair of the Arctic Economic Council: – We have made lightyears of progress". Retrieved 19 June 2021.
  19. ^ "Tero Vauraste". Arctic Frontiers.
  20. ^ Tømmerbakke, From Siri Gulliksen. "AEC's Vauraste: Protectionism Very Damaging for the Arctic".
  21. ^ a b "PRESS RELEASE: The AEC Welcomes New Chair, Signs MoU with Arctic Council". Arctic Economic Council. 9 May 2019.
  22. ^ "Executive Committee". Arctic Economic Council.
  23. ^ "Maritime Transportation Working Group". Arctic Economic Council. 8 July 2020.
  24. ^ "Investments & Infrastructure Working Group". Arctic Economic Council.
  25. ^ "Responsible Resource Development Working Group". Arctic Economic Council.
  26. ^ a b "Connectivity Working Group". Arctic Economic Council.
  27. ^ "No. 8 | Applying an Arctic Economic Lens to Investments in Connectivity | Wilson Center". Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  28. ^ "Memorandum of Understanding" (PDF). Arctic Economic Council. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 July 2021.
  29. ^ "Moscow urges dialogue without confrontation in the activity of Arctic Council: Lavrov". TASS.
  30. ^ "First joint meeting between the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council". Arctic Council. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  31. ^ Arctic Council (20 May 2021). "Arctic Council Strategic Plan".
  32. ^ "Memorandum of Understanding between Arctic Economic Council and Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region" (PDF). 14 October 2021.
  33. ^ "Signing of a Papers on Sustainable Development in the Arctic". Standing Committee of the Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region. 22 October 2021. Archived from the original on 22 October 2021.
  34. ^ "on mutual understanding and cooperation between the Arctic Economic Council and St. Petersburg Committee for Arctic Affairs" (PDF). 2 June 2021.
  35. ^ "AEC and St. Petersburg Committee for Arctic Affairs sign MOU". Arctic Economic Council. 2 June 2021.
  36. ^ "Курс – на север. Петербург и АЭС договорились о сотрудничестве".
  37. ^ "Memorandum of Understanding between the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council" (PDF). 14 October 2021.
  38. ^ "The Arctic Council signs Memorandum of Understanding with Arctic Economic Council". Arctic Council.
  39. ^ "Memorandum of Understanding between the Arctic Economic Council (AEC) and the University of the Arctic (UArctic)" (PDF). 9 April 2018.
  40. ^ "Arctic Investment Protocol: Guidelines for Responsible Investment in the Arctic". World Economic Forum.
  41. ^ "The Arctic Investment Protocol | Guggenheim Investments".
  42. ^ "The Arctic Investment Protocol | Guggenheim Investments". Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  43. ^ "Looking North: The UK and the Arctic. The United Kingdom's Arctic Policy Framework". GOV.UK. Retrieved 10 February 2023.
  44. ^ "Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh releases India's Arctic Policy in New Delhi today". Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  45. ^ "La stratégie polaire française, « Équilibrer les extrêmes », a été remise au Premier ministre". (in French). Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  46. ^ "Iceland's Policy on Matters Concerning the Arctic Region" (PDF). Government of Iceland. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 October 2021.
  47. ^ "Joint communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European economic and social Committee and the Committee of the regions". European Commission. Archived from the original on 15 November 2021.
  48. ^ "The Arctic: Opportunities, concerns and security challenges". European Parliament. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 October 2021.
  49. ^ Finnish government (18 June 2021). "Finland's Strategy for Arctic Policy".
  50. ^ "The Netherlands' Polar Strategy 2021-2025". The Ministry of Foreign Affairs. March 2021. Archived from the original on 2 March 2021. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  51. ^ Ministerstwo Spraw Zagranicznych RP. Departament Prawno-Traktatowy (2021). "Polish Polar Policy. From Past Expeditions to Future Challenges".
  52. ^ "Указ Президента Российской Федерации от 26.10.2020 г. № 645". Президент России. Archived from the original on 7 January 2022.
  53. ^ "Sweden's strategy for the Arctic region" (PDF). Government Offices of Sweden. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 January 2021.
  54. ^ Canada, Government of Canada; Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs (14 June 2019). "Canada's Arctic and Northern Policy Framework".
  55. ^ "Arctic Connections: Scotland's Arctic policy framework -".
  56. ^ "Beyond the Ice. UK policy towards the Arctic" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 July 2019.
  57. ^ "Directrices para una estrategia polar Española" (PDF). Ministerio de Ciencia e innovacion. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 November 2021. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  58. ^ "The great challenge of the Arctic" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 May 2017.
  59. ^ "Japan". The Arctic Institute. Retrieved 20 June 2021.

External linksEdit