REYKJAVIK, Iceland – Developing a plan for the North, Québec Premier Philippe Couillard is visiting Reykjavik, Iceland onNovember 1 and 2, 2014 to present the Plan Nord at the 2014 Arctic Circle Assembly, an international forum devoted to questions related to the Arctic. Premier Couillard, accompanied by Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Plan Nord Pierre Arcand, is taking advantage of this major event to establish partnerships and promote among attendees in the political, economic, university and civil society sectors Québec’s expertise concerning northern questions and its efforts to combat climate change.
He was the keynote speaker at the first plenary session of the day entitled “The Plan Nord: Building together an exemplary sustainable development project.” Premier Couillard outlined the key principles that will guide the implementation of the Plan Nord, which is a socially and environmentally responsible economic development project.
“Through the Plan Nord, we hope to develop Northern Québec’s vast potential in order to make of it an exemplary sustainable development project. It has been designed and will be carried out in a close, ongoing partnership with local communities to ensure that northern development concretely benefits the communities and protects the territory’s environment and distinctive biodiversity. The Arctic Circle Assembly brings together over 40 representatives of various countries. Today, I am pleased to announce that Québec is now part of this unique platform for exchanges,” Premier Couillard noted.
The International Symposium on Northern Development in Québec City
This outstanding tribune also enabled Premier Couillard to announce the International Symposium on Northern Development, co-chaired by the Québec government, in collaboration with Université Laval and the Nordic Council of Ministers. The event will take place in Québec City February 25 to 27, 2015.
“The Symposium will provide an opportunity to engage in discussions and share knowledge, experience and perspectives of northern development. It will assemble representatives of the northern countries, businesses, the universities and local communities, including the Aboriginal nations. I hope that we can rely on your valuable expertise and collaboration to pursue the Plan Nord, a promising major project,” the Premier said when he extended an invitation to the audience.
Several meetings on the agenda
In addition to his participation in the Arctic Circle Assembly, Premier Couillard spoke with US Special Representative for the Arctic Robert Papp, to whom he presented Québec’s key priorities related to the Arctic, including the Plan Nord, Québec’s maritime strategy and its efforts to combat climate change in a context where the United States will assume the presidency of the Arctic Council in 2015. The Premier also discussed northern questions with the delegation of Québec experts comprising over 20 representatives of the Aboriginal peoples, the private sector and the research sector. It should be noted that several of them participated in an evening plenary session devoted to the Plan Nord chaired by Minister Arcand under the theme “Sustainable partnership, development and innovation in Northern Québec: the Plan Nord.”
Premier Couillard also met with Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees Matthew Coon Come, who is also attending the forum in Iceland.
The Premier will meet in the afternoon with former French Prime Minister and French Ambassador for the Arctic and Antarctica Michel Rocard. He will then meet with the President of the Republic of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, with whom he will examine, in particular, the importance of broadening cooperation on northern questions and combating climate change.
Lastly, Premier Couillard will round out his mission tomorrow with a meeting on climate change accompanied by Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres. The meeting will afford Premier Couillard an opportunity to present Québec’s initiatives to combat climate change both in Québec and on the international scene.
The Arctic Circle Assembly
The Arctic Circle Assembly is an international group intended to facilitate exchanges and foster collaboration on questions related to the Arctic, especially from the standpoint of climate change. The event assembles political representatives and representatives of big businesses, organizations and associations, and internationally renowned researchers and scientists. The first conference of the Arctic Circle Assembly was held in 2013 in Reykjavik and brought together more than 1200 participants from 40 countries.