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German Arctic policy guidelines: Assuming responsibility, creating trust, shaping the future

21.08.2019 - Press release

Today (21 August 2019), the Cabinet adopted the new interministerial Arctic policy guidelines.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas commented as follows:

In the Arctic, climate change is no longer a vision of the future. Rather, it has long since become reality. Where there used to be ice, there are now stones and water. Temperatures in the Arctic are currently rising around twice as rapidly as elsewhere in the world. The Arctic region is of increasing ecological, economic and geopolitical importance.
With the Arctic policy guidelines, the German Government is taking on more responsibility and setting out clear strategic goals. It is obvious to us that we do not want any competition in the Arctic. Rather, we want to see greater international cooperation in order to protect this unique region. We want to preserve the Arctic as a largely conflict-free region and use the available resources responsibly.

Background information:

The new Arctic policy guidelines are the first at interministerial level, and were drawn up under the auspices of the Federal Foreign Office. They bring together the Arctic policies of the different ministries and set out the German Government’s strategic goals in the Arctic.

Due to its conditions and location, the Arctic is an early warning system for global warming and the consequences of climate change. Developments there also have a grave impact on Germany and Europe, for instance in the form of rising sea levels and the increase in extreme weather phenomena. We therefore have to urgently direct our attention to the region.

In addition to the dramatic climatic changes, there are also major economic and geostrategic challenges in the Arctic: the melting of the Arctic sea ice is making possible the navigation of Arctic shipping routes, the extraction of raw materials and more fishing. Many states have an interest in this. There is therefore increasing competition in the Arctic. The German Government would like to preserve the Arctic as a largely conflict-free region and strengthen multilateral cooperation.

The six priorities of Germany’s new Arctic policy guidelines are climate and environmental protection, international cooperation, security policy, science and research, sustainable development and the involvement of the indigenous population in the Arctic. The guidelines determine the direction of German Arctic policy in international negotiating platforms, especially as an observer state in the Arctic Council. Furthermore, they offer clear orientation for future research activities with German involvement and for economic activities by German companies in the Arctic.

The content of Germany’s new Arctic policy guidelines at a glance:

  • Commitment to systematic climate and environmental protection in line with the Paris Agreement.
  • Expansion of international and rules-based cooperation in the Arctic and in the Arctic Council.
  • Preservation of the Arctic as a largely conflict-free region and security policy engagement within the EU and NATO.
  • Preservation and expansion of responsible research.
  • Sustainable development of the Arctic in line with the precautionary and polluter-pays principles.
  • The involvement of the indigenous population and the safeguarding of their rights to freedom, good health and self-determination in their Habitat.

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