In recent years, the Arctic has become a region of increasing geopolitical importance. The growing environmental and strategic importance of the Arctic has very significant impact, with melting ice having far-reaching implications for climate change and maritime access across the region.
My Department has been undertaking a mapping exercise to assess Ireland’s engagement with the Arctic and related issues across a range of areas and to determine the merits of a closer engagement with the region.
It is clear there is a rationale for enhancing Ireland’s engagement on the Arctic across the range of established fora, including the potential to submit an application for observer status with the Arctic Council. It is clear that any application would have to be underpinned by a very strong case detailing how Ireland could contribute to the Council’s work. Additionally, any application and possible eventual participation as an observer at the Council would require a cross-Government commitment to ensure that Ireland could play an active and effective role.
A decision on whether to apply formally for observer status with the Arctic Council is a matter for the Government and a proposal is expected to be submitted for consideration by the new Government in due course.