From January 21st to 26th, Arctic Frontiers 2018 was held in Tromsø, Norway. This is an international conference held annually in Tromsø, which assembles policy-makers, business stakeholders and researchers mainly from Northern European countries and provides a venue for discussions on sustainable development in the Arctic. Most of the sessions were closely associated with this year’s key theme on “Connecting the Arctic”. In line with this, topics focusing on the latest technologies in telecommunications and the commercial use of the Northern Sea Route were frequently mentioned during the conference.
Under the framework of ArCS’ Program for Overseas Visits by Young Researchers, three stakeholders from public and private sectors attended the Arctic Frontiers 2018; Tomomi Kakizaki (Tomakomai Port Authority), Hiroo Maeda (Port Department of Muroran city) and Noritaka Kawajiri (Mitsui O.S.K. Lines). Their objective is to acquire the general knowledge on the Arctic and to gain insights on the commercial use of the Northern Sea Route. During the policy sessions on the first day, ministers from Norway, Sweden and Denmark delivered keynote speeches and were invited into panel discussions, through which the three stakeholders learned each state’s positions and policy towards the issues on sustainable development in the Arctic. The policy sessions were followed by the business sessions, where northern European companies from various sectors came together to present and discuss the latest business tendency and technological developments in the Arctic. One of the sessions was focused on the governance of Arctic shipping and it provided a good opportunity to grasp each country’s policy towards the Northern Sea Route. The conference gathered many researchers into the Northern Sea Route as well as various companies involved in Arctic shipping at one place, and as such facilitated cross-sectoral networking among these people and the three representative stakeholders from Japan.
The temperature in Tromsø was unusually low, dropping to about -10°C every day throughout the week. It was a relatively harsh climate for the visitors from Japan, but due to clear air they were able to observe the northern lights two days in a row. This seemed to be a valuable experience for them, who visited the Arctic circle for the first time.