Switzerland obtains observer status in the Arctic Council

Bern, 12.05.2017 - At its ministerial meeting held on 11 May 2017 in Fairbanks, Alaska, the Arctic Council granted Switzerland observer status. As an observer, Switzerland can now contribute expert knowledge to the Council at the level of working groups, particularly in the interdisciplinary area of climate change research. The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum promoting the environmental, economic and social aspects of sustainable development in the Arctic.

At the 10th Arctic Council ministerial meeting, held on 11 May 2017 under the US chairmanship, Switzerland was the only country newly admitted as an observer to the Council. Observer status enables non-Arctic states that have demonstrated sufficient interest in the Arctic to participate in the Council's meetings and working groups.

Polar research is very similar to high-altitude research in the Alps. A number of Swiss institutes are internationally renowned for their high-calibre research on snow, the atmosphere, natural hazards, permafrost and mountain ecosystems. Swiss scientists have conducted research on glaciology in the Arctic for over a hundred years, making a substantial contribution to global climate research; in fact, Switzerland is known in this research community as the 'vertical Arctic nation'.

This new status as an observer will enable Switzerland to contribute expert knowledge to the Council at the level of working groups and to participate in research projects in a region with enormous economic potential and growing geopolitical weight. The results of this largely international research can also benefit Arctic inhabitants and indigenous communities, who are directly affected by climate change.

The Arctic Council, founded in 1996, comprises the foreign ministers of the eight Arctic states (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States) as well as organisations representing Arctic indigenous peoples, observer states (including China, France, Germany and Japan) and specialist institutes.


Ambassador Stefan Fl├╝ckiger
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
079 748 10 38

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