The Department of the Interior regularly works with the seven other Arctic nations, along with numerous indigenous organizations, international organizations, and extra-regional national partners to help protect the environment and encourage sustainable development in this part of the world. In undertaking such cooperation, Interior is uniquely positioned to provide expertise based on extensive experience: the Department is responsible for managing the preponderant majority of U.S. Arctic land in Alaska and also manages Alaska’s vast outer continental shelf.
Such domestic experience is invaluable on an international scale: the Arctic region is so intertwined environmentally and culturally that no conservation or development activity can be wholly effective without collaboration with international partners. Given its equities, Interior plays an important, growing role in the Arctic Council – the preeminent forum for Arctic cooperation. A particular challenge in this region is the rapidly changing environment, a phenomenon that underscores not only the urgency of effective and far-sighted land and ocean management but also the urgency of ensuring the health and welfare of the native communities in the region who are up against dramatic social and cultural threats that include displacement and food security concerns.
Ensuring an effective response to these ecological, commercial, and cultural changes requires a balanced approach to solving problems; an approach that uses targeted science and includes multiple stakeholders, objectives, and scales. Interior is leading the international effort to incorporate a more comprehensive set of interests to help tackle a wide range of conservation and development challenges.