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UArctic for better cooperation
Other News
Written by Magdalena Tomasik   
Thursday, 29 May 2014 13:43

(Photo: Magdalena Tomasik) Opening remarks by Stef´sn B. Sigurðsson, Rector, University of Akureyri (Photo: Magdalena Tomasik) Opening remarks by Stef´sn B. Sigurðsson, Rector, University of Akureyri The second day of meeting within the UArctic Rectors´ Forum took place today at the University of Akureyri. In the keynote speech, Stefán B. Sigurðsson, Rector of the University of Akureyri, highlighted its importance for Arctic educational institutions as it is of a strategic – Central Arctic location.

The key Arctic – related institutions that are located in Akureyri were mentioned during the opening session. Introduction of partners and representatives took place.

During the second part of the morning session, Dr Sigrún Sveinbjörnsdóttir, Proffessor of psychology at the University of Akureyri gave a keynote about enhancing and sustaining the human resource of the North. She highlighted a need and an important role of equality and flexible learning for health.

Advantages and disadvantages of distance learning were discussed as well as methods of building relationship between teachers and students.

The UArctic Rectors´ Forum will continue until Saturday, when all the participants will enjoy the excursion to beautiful late Mývatn in the North – East Part of Iceland.

UArctic Rectors’ Forum starts today
Other News
Written by Magdalena Tomasik   
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 09:09

(Photo: Getty Images) (Photo: Getty Images) The 8th UArctic Rectors' Forum starts today at the University of Akureyri, capital city of northern Iceland.

The Theme of the 8th Forum is University Education in the Arctic Regions-, flexibility, gender equality and health.

In conjunction with the 2014 Rectors' Forum, the University of Akureyri will continue the practice of hosting a UArctic Students' Forum. In this respect, you are invited to sponsor one graduate student or rising senior undergraduate student from your institution to participate in the student program. Your institution will be responsible for the cost associated with the participation of your student representatives, i.e. registration fee, travel expenses and accommodation cost.Please, see the preliminary program for Student's Forum.

The Rectors' Forums are for the leaders of UArctic's Higher Education Institution members, and serve as a unique opportunity for the heads of these institutions in the circumpolar North to participate in a common dialogue and learning experience focused on topics of special relevance. Institution leaders (Chancellors, Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Provosts) who participate in the meeting may bring one additional expert or advisor in their delegation. Note: The Rectors' Forum business meeting session is not open to representatives from UArctic members who are not a rector, provost, president, vice president or hold a similar post of leadership.


For further details see UArctic Rectors' Forum Terms of Reference and the UArctic Charter (adopted and signed at the Rectors' Forum 2008).

Nordic Prime Ministers' Meeting in Akureyri
Shipping News
Written by Federica   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 10:41

Lake of Myvatn (source: Gettyimage)

Yesterday, 26th May, prime Ministers of Denmark, Sweden , Finland and Norway arrived in Akureyri to meet with the Prime Minister of Iceland in occasion of the annual summit of the Nordic Prime Ministers. After a brief tour of Dimmuborgir and the lake of Myvatn, the Ministers discussed about cooperation of the five partner countries, but also about the situation in Ukraine and other issues regarding Europe. 

Today, the leaders of the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland will enjoy  to the group for a joint summit to be held in Hof, the Cultural and Conference Centre of Akureyri. 

The group will take some time off their schedule for a brief meeting at the University of Akureyri, chaired by  Dr. Sigurður Kristinsson.

Dr. Stefán B. Sigurðsson, Rector of the University of Akureyri, will welcome the attandants, and the group, along with other representatives of the Nordic countries will discuss with local stakeholders and participants about Environment (Tom Barry, CAFF), Research (Ms. Embla Eir Oddsdóttir, Director, Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network), Business (Mr. Þorvaldur Lúðvík Sigurjónsson, Director, the Eyjafjörður Regional Development Agency and Arctic Service), Tourism (Ms. Helga Árnadóttir, Director, the Icelandic Travel Industry Association, Mr. Edward Huijbens, Icelandic Tourism Research Centre), and Information (Mr. Halldór Jóhannsson, Director, Arctic Portal).

The meeting will be concluded by the Mayor of the town of Akureyri, Mr. Eiríkur Björn Björgvinsson.


For more information (in Icelandic): click here.

WTO: EU seal ban "necessary to protect public morals".
Shipping News
Written by Federica   
Monday, 26 May 2014 11:30

Seal (source: Gettyimage)

On 22 May 2014,  the highest judicial tribunal of the World Trade Organization, WTO, the Appellate Body, released its final ruling on the longstanding "seal case". While having found that the EU ban "constitutes a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination", violating therefore WTO rules, the Appellate Body upheld the Panel's finding that the EU Seal Regime is “necessary to protect public morals”.


Back in 2009, following years of lively debates with Canada, the EU eventually adopted the controversial Regulation EC 1007/2009, which banned the import into the Union of all produced derived from seals, nevertheless allowing  "the placing on the market of seal products [...] where the seal products result from hunts traditionally con­ducted by Inuit and other indigenous communities and contrib­ute to their subsistence." 


Canada, later enjoyed by Norway, challenged the ban in front of the WTO. In November 2013, the panel released a report stating that although the EU ban was undermining "fair trade", the restrictions could be justified on "public moral concerns" for animal welfare.

Both Canada and Norway, and both the EU appealed to the Appellate Body "certain issues of law and legal interpretations developed by the panel "(January 2014).


The final decision, relased on 22 May,  of the Appellate Body has triggered various reactions. 


The Harper government (Canada) released a joint statement (the Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council) to respond the WTO decision: "Canada’s position has been that the eastern and northern seal harvests are humane, sustainable and well-regulated activities that provide an important source of food and income for coastal and Inuit communities.  "The ban on seal products adopted in the European Union was a political decision that has no basis in fact or science." "We expect that the European Union will comply with the letter and spirit of the decision, and we will be closely following how it brings itself into compliance. Our government will continue to stand up for trade fairness for this important, traditional way of life.” (read the Joint statement here).


 Canadian Inuit organizations are outraged. Although the ban actually contains an "Inuit exemption", which technically allows products derived from Inuit traditional hunting to be sold into the EU; different, organizations have highlighted the impossibility to sell products in a collapsed market:

“I am morally outraged at the self-righteousness and sanctimoniousness of the EU’s claim to protect the morals of its citizens,” said Terry Audla, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), in a statement from the national Inuit organization. “Inuit live according to the principles of fairness and compassion, and we seek nothing more than to feed our families and make an honest living in the modern economy. It is morally reprehensible for anyone to impede those goals—which are the basic rights of any citizen of the world.”

On the contrary, animal lobbies, as IFAW, applaud the WTO ruling for reiterating the importance of public morality in international trade, congratulate the EU "for taking this principled stand against the inhumane slaughter of seals" , and consider "the ban backed by the most rigorous scientific and socio-economic examination of commercial seal hunts around the world ever conducted (IFAW EU Regional Director Sonja Van Tichelen).


However, the Seals & Sealing Network tried to moderate the discussions warning: "Despite widespread media reports that the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body upheld the European Union (EU) ban on seal products yesterday, the ban has not in fact been upheld. Indeed, the WTO determined that the EU's ban is designed and applied in a manner that constitutes a "means of arbitrary and unjustifiable discrimination." The WTO has further told the EU that its ban must change - it cannot allow imports of Inuit seal products and hunting for resource management to remain valid while banning all other seal products. What the WTO has upheld is that it is possible for a nation to address animal welfare concerns by invoking public morals as a justification." and "The EU must now decide whether to ban all seal products, including those harvested by Inuit who have subsisted on seal hunting for thousands of years, and those harvested to prevent the overabundant population from getting out of control, or to revoke their political and discriminatory ban. The EU, in any event, must bring the ban into compliance with the WTO decision."(read the full answer here).


Source: WTO, CBC Canada, EUObserver

Early career opportunity in marine research
Climate Change News
Written by Magdalena Tomasik   
Friday, 23 May 2014 09:37

(Photo: Getty Images) (Photo: Getty Images)5th Early Career Scientists Conference for Marine and Climate Research will take place at the University of Bremen, 21-24 September 2014.

ECC 2014 is an interdisciplinary and international conference which, this year, focuses on the Natural and Social Aspects of the Earth System

All early career scientists working in the field of marine and climate sciences are therefore invited to join us in Bremen to present and discuss research in an interactive and innovative way.

The registration and abstract submission deadline is 1 July. There is no conference fee!


Please visit the conference website for more information and to submit your abstract.

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