With Maine positioned to play a leading role as climate change enables more shipping and other economic activities to occur in the Arctic, the state is set to host an international conference on the topic for a series of events next week in Portland.

Nearly 250 people are expected to attend the Arctic Council gathering, which includes several events scheduled from Oct. 3-6 in Maine’s largest city.

Members of the Arctic Council include representatives from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States and members of the indigenous people who live in the region. The goals of the organization include promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among Arctic nations, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common issues, including sustainable development and environmental protection, according to conference organizers.

The two-day official meeting in Maine of the council, on Oct. 5 and 6, is the only meeting of senior Arctic Council officials being held outside Alaska during the United State’s two-year chairmanship of the council which, conference organizers say, is an acknowledgment of Maine’s emerging engagement in the region.

“Maine being selected as the location for this important international meeting is an opportunity to showcase our businesses, educators, scientists and innovation leaders and [to] highlight our historic and ongoing engagement in Arctic issues to the country and the world,” Dana Eidsness, director of the Maine North Atlantic Development Office, said in a prepared statement.

Official Arctic Council meetings are closed to the public, some public events have been scheduled for next week’s gathering.

A full-day public session scheduled at University of Southern Maine for Monday, Oct. 3, will include talks on the science of climate change, legal rights of access to the region, shipping safety and environmental issues. Sen. Angus King, a proponent of the state taking an active leadership role in the opening of the arctic, will be a morning speaker at the session, which costs $45 to attend.

The Oct. 3 session, which will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Hannaford Hall, is being hosted by USM, University of Maine School of Law and Pierce Atwood LLP.

Other Arctic Council-related events scheduled next week include a half-day symposium titled “Marine Technology and the North” held on on Oct. 5 at the Portland Museum of Art. This symposium, hosted by Portland law firm Verrill Dana, will focus on developing industry and other standards for arctic and high latitude operation.

For more information about the conference, visit www.maineandthearctic.com.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....