Toespraak van minister Van Engelshoven bij de 2nd Arctic Science Ministerial Meeting in Berlijn

Toespraak van minister Van Engelshoven (OCW)over het belang van samenwerking bij de 2nd Arctic Science Ministerial Meeting op 26 oktober 2018 in Berlijn. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Thank you Chair,  dear colleagues and delegates,

Dear Minister Karlyczek,

Thank you very much for organizing and hosting this second Arctic Science Ministerial together with Commissioner Carlos Moedas and Minister Sanni Grahn-Laasonen.

You probably know that, as a seafaring nation the Dutch have left their traces all over the world – including the Arctic. You may however be surprised to learn that the Dutch presence in the Arctic goes back for more than 400 years. His presence there led, among other things, to a whole sea being named after him: the Barentszsea

If Barentsz had lived today and we had the opportunity to ask him what he thought to be the most important asset to work with in the Arctic region.

I bet he would answer: cooperation.

In his time that meant cooperation between the members of an expedition. In our time it means cooperation between scientists, between organizations and between states.

I would like to name a few of these forms of cooperation that enables us as a small country to contribute to Arctic science:

In the first place our successful longstanding bilateral agreement with the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany. In this context our scientists are involved in the unique and AWI-led collaboration in the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) starting September next year.

Secondly, I firmly believe in research cooperation by promoting open access to data and publications by using FAIR Data Principles.The initiative of this meeting to establish a Forum of Arctic science funders is an addition to this list I warmly welcome. The Netherlands values international coordinating bodies in polar sciences and their activities. This is why I support the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) but also the work of the European Polar Board which we host in the Netherlands.

I hope this ministerial will boost stronger cooperation. 

Changes in the Arctic potentially have a large environmental and socio-economic impact. They severely affect (the livelihood of) indigenous peoples, but also have widespread global impacts. For a country like ours, that partly lies below sea level, melting ice caps could have disastrous consequences.

So for us looking away is not an option. If we want to literally keep our heads above water we have to act.

To be able to do so, we need to have a better understanding of the regional and global dynamics, and the consequences of climate change in the Polar regions.

I find it important to note that the Netherlands is committed to continue the Netherlands Polar Program beyond 2020. Involved partners are currently exploring ways to renew the program and looking for possibilities to even increase our ambitions in polar research.

Please allow me to say one more thing: I am glad to see that the upcoming joint statement of this meeting voices the willingness of so many countries and organizations to combine their strengths.

This will help polar scientists to intensify international Arctic research cooperation. I hope the ASM-process will lead to further sharing of research facilities, research data and funding mechanisms.

Willem Barentsz couldn’t be here. He died on his way home from his third Arctic trip, after surviving a polar winter. But I’m sure he would have agreed with our efforts: strengthening Arctic research by stimulating cooperation.

Let this be the spirit we share for the future of Arctic research.

Thank you.