On January 21, 2015, the White House issued the attached Executive Order (EO) aimed at enhancing coordination of national efforts on Arctic issues. The EO establishes the Arctic Executive Steering Committee, comprised of high-level officials from a broad range of federal agencies, charged with prioritizing and coordinating federal activities in carrying out Arctic policy. As part of its mission, the Committee must establish a process to “ensure meaningful consultation and collaboration with Alaska Native tribal governments and similar Alaska Native organizations.”
The Executive Order begins by recognizing the national interests at stake in the Arctic, including national security, energy, economic interests, and environmental challenges. It then summarizes the dramatic effects of global warming on the region, and states that sound decision-making must rely on both Western science and the traditional knowledge of Alaska Native peoples.
The order comes as the United States prepares to assume the chairmanship of the Arctic Council, an international forum advocating for Arctic issues that consists of eight nations, with significant involvement by indigenous Arctic peoples.
The Committee must establish a working group to provide a report by May 1, 2015, that provides recommendations to increase coordination of efforts, reduce duplication, and address any gaps in Arctic policy implementation.
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