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Embla Oddsdóttir brings people together on Arctic issues that touch this country, though deciding which issues are “Arctic” is not always easy. Embla is the director of the Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network.
She and I talked about identity and how an Arctic connection is now being forged for the people of Iceland. “We are told we are Arctic, but people don’t relate to that,” she says.
Building cooperation around issues including climate change and new shipping routes is “intangible but important,” and the right people must be at the table. Embla sees a coupling of the financial and political systems around these issues and a need to monitor how power is emerging in the Arctic. “There are too few characters in the discourse. People have a feeling they have a say, but they don’t actually. But if you tell a person they have influence they will probably believe you.” As for tourism: “How do you attract people to an Arctic nation if the people locally don’t have an Arctic identity?” As for the future: “It’s fine to hope for cooperation, but people should be prepared.”
Photo by Eric Guth.