UNE Delegation Takes Part in Arctic Circle Assembly in Rykjavik, Iceland

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Faculty and staff from the University of New England (UNE) will travel to Reykjavik, Iceland, as part of the Maine International Trade Commission’s delegation to the October 16-18 Arctic Circle Assembly, the preeminent international forum for Arctic cooperation and sustainable development.

It is the perfect time for UNE to explore ways in which it can bring its strengths to bear on issues related to Arctic development

Faculty and staff from the University of New England (UNE) will travel to Reykjavik, Iceland, as part of the Maine International Trade Commission’s delegation to the October 16-18 Arctic Circle Assembly, the preeminent international forum for Arctic cooperation and sustainable development.

More than 1,500 participants, including heads of state, law makers, scientists, business leaders, indigenous representatives, activists and environmentalists from more than 40 countries will attend the conference, which is designed to increase participation in dialogue about the Arctic region and strengthen the international focus on the future of the Arctic. The President of France Francois Hollande will address the assembly on the Arctic’s importance to climate diplomacy.

The UNE delegates will investigate how the University can contribute to the conversation and decision making around issues facing the Artic region and will establish connections with other higher education institutions in the field.

Barry Costa-Pierce, Ph.D., Henry L. & Grace Doherty Professor and chair of UNE’s Department of Marine Sciences and director of the Marine Science Center, will discuss the University’s ability to contribute to data related to the impacts of environmental change on shared resources, such as fisheries, sustainable aquaculture development, and to the development of sustainable products and practices related to student careers in the marine sciences connected to maritime industry.

“Maine is the new ‘near-Arctic state’ in the emerging North Atlantic seafood ecosystem,” he said. The world is on the cusp of a great Arctic seafood science and trade revolution, and the Gulf of Maine is positioned – quite literally – to be a hub of marine commerce and trade with the Arctic countries.”

Members of UNE will also lend the University’s expertise in the health sciences and public health, and, in particular, its experience in serving rural communities of Northern New England, in sessions focusing on the challenges faced by communities that are currently living amidst Arctic development and climate change.

Through the exploration of collaborative opportunities with industry, higher education, and policy makers to find solutions to the challenges facing the Arctic, members of UNE’s Office of Strategic Initiatives, will use their experience at the Arctic Circle Assembly to create valuable learning opportunities for UNE students and faculty that will help them contribute to sustainable solutions.

Anouar Majid, Ph.D., vice president for Global Affairs at UNE, who will attend the conference, believes that the timing could not be better for UNE to become involved in the event. “Maine is becoming an increasingly international economy with foreign investment rising, particularly in the Greater Portland area, with the arrival of Icelandic shipping corporation Eimskip and plans underway to create the New England Cluster House, an incubator of marine related research and business on the Portland waterfront. It is the perfect time for UNE to explore ways in which it can bring its strengths to bear on issues related to Arctic development,” he said.

Maine’s role in the Arctic is, indeed, expanding, as the Arctic Council, the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic states, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants, is slated to be held in Portland in October of 2016.

The University of New England (UNE) is Maine’s largest private university. It offers dozens of undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs and is home to Maine’s only medical and dental schools. With coastal campuses in Portland and Biddeford, Maine and one in Tangier, Morocco, UNE attracts internationally recognized scholars in the sciences, health, medicine and the humanities. It is one of a select group of academic institutions with a comprehensive health education mission that includes programs in medicine, pharmacy, dental medicine, nursing and an array of allied health professions.

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Jen Porto
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