Hovedlinjer for fransk arktisk politikk
I forbindelse med Arctic Frontiers, en internasjonal konferanse med fokus på bærekraftig utvikling i Arktis ønsker ambassadør Jean-François Dobelle å presentere noen hovedlinjer for fransk arktisk politikk. "White space, blue future" var hovedtema for årets konferanse.
Even though the Arctic seems to be far away from France, it may be closer than one could think: the Arctic ocean is a natural extension of the Atlantic Ocean in the north, which also washes our shores. France is also a polar nation, considering its numerous sailors and its scientific presence nowadays in the High North.
France was the first country to install a research station, in 1963, in Svalbard where it shares a scientific complex together with Germany in Ny-Alesund. The AWIPEV basis leads researches in the domains of geophysics, biology and chemistry ; its laboratories can accommodate up to sixteen scientists. During summer, the additional basis Jean Corbel, specialized in studies of the atmosphere and glaciology can host up to eight scientists.
France ranks number nine among the scientific nations researching in the Arctic and has a long tradition and expertise in social and human sciences regarding native inhabitants of the North.
Since it belongs to the European Union and is a member of NATO, France can play a role in the stability of the region. France intends to maintain its military cooperation in the area, taking part of the Arctic Security Forces Roundtable and to the international joint exercise “Cold Respond” organized by ny Norway every second year. France also maintains its port calls policy around the Arctic Ocean. Last but not least, France is attached to the compliance of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as the right of innocent passage.
My country also attaches a great importance to the protection of the maritime environment in the Arctic. It supported the developing of a polar code within the IMO that just entered into force; it welcomes the Declaration on the prevention of illegal and unreported fishing in the high sea in central Arctic that was signed in Oslo in July 2015. As a member of the EU, France intends to stress its rights and its duties during the works and negotiations in view of an agreement in that matter. We will also follow with great interest the works of the Arctic Regional Hydrographic Commission of the IHO.
As an observer since 2000, France takes part in the Arctic Council and several of its working groups, scientific or technical committees. We have, along with other observer countries, the possibility to be consulted before the annual meetings of the council. This is an opportunity, as a scientific nation, to promote the international cooperation and the scientific expertise of France in this area. We are favorable to a greater commitment of the observer countries in the discussions and the decisions around the governance of the Arctic, as far as the duties concerning the potential use of this region by concerned countries are involved. The European Union should also be granted the status of permanent observer in the euro-arctic council of the Barents Sea, of which EU is a member.
On the basis of their territorial sovereignty or their jurisdictional competence over the greater part of land or sea in the Arctic, the member States of the Artic Council are in the first line to tackle the challenges that the Arctic is facing. First of them is the global warming, twice to three times higher as the rest of the world, and four times higher over the past thirty years. As it is often said, the Artic is the sentinel of the climate change. The nature and the scale of the challenges, in that matter like in many others, require more than ever greater international cooperation.
Protecting oceans is vital as, from an ecological point of view, the Arctic is an extremely complex and sensitive marine environment. The economic exploitation of resources and maritime shipping poses pollution risks caused by the discharge of wastes or petroleum products. User States must also take action to protect the environment. The Arctic is an area of major scientific interest, particularly in the context of climate change. France is very committed to this longstanding tradition in supporting research on Arctic issues, and undertakes practical actions, such as the development of Research centers dedicated to polar studies or scientific participation in the Arctic Council working groups. “White space-blue future” is an invitation to address the knowledge gap with respect to the Arctic Ocean. It is indeed essential to promote research development in the Arctic region, of major economic and scientific importance.
The Arctic must remain on the long term, a stable and prosperous area of scientific interest, not only for the benefit of the European Union and its Member States, but also for the world at large. As often mentioned, “What happens in the Arctic does not remain in the Arctic”, and the impact of climate change taking place in the circumpolar-North region is already visible around the world. Our Arctic roadmap, adopted last June, reaffirms the commitment of our country for the Arctic, in terms of science, environment, economy and strategy. It reaffirms as well our commitment to a high level environmental protection for this natural laboratory, perfect for studying the effects of climate change worldwide.