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The International Symposium on Northern Development lays the groundwork for increased cooperation with northern countries

Québec City, February 27, 2015 – At the close of the first-ever International Symposium on Northern Development, the Premier of Québec, Philippe Couillard, and the Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Dagfinn Høybråten, signed a letter of intent to strengthen cooperation in the area of northern development.

“The North is one of the environments most affected by climate change and solutions to combat it necessarily rely on the sharing of scientific knowledge. The Symposium is a concrete manifestation of growing cooperation between Québec and the Nordic Council of Ministers in this respect. The letter of intent signed today reflects Québec’s desire to engage in ever closer cooperation by relying on more extensive political, scientific and technical exchanges to responsibly, sustainably develop a constantly changing North,” Premier Couilllard noted.

The Symposium provided opportunities for numerous meetings between researchers and experts from institutions in several different countries. These meetings helped lay the foundations for ongoing political and scientific cooperation between Québec and the Nordic Council of Ministers, and also between institutions of higher education, research and innovation, northern communities, Aboriginal nations and businesses working in the area of sustainable northern development,” added Mr. Høybråten.

Following a discussion at the beginning of the week, Premier Couillard and the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, reaffirmed their goal of increased cooperation by announcing that Québec will join the strategic committee of the Arctic Circle, the decision-making authority responsible for organizing the key forum for Arctic cooperation.

The Symposium, a striking success

The Premier and the Secretary General emphasized that the Symposium was a success, not only because of the number of participants but also because of the range of subjects and points of view discussed. The Nordic Council of Ministers and the Québec government will support forums bringing together actors in northern research at the international level.  

Roughly 450 people participated in the Symposium. The presence of representatives from the Nordic countries and also from the non-Arctic nations reflects the international community’s interest in the region. I am pleased to note that the forum enabled the scientific community to look beyond professional spheres of interest by promoting discussions on the theme of northern development. Moreover, ambassadors and consuls general from more than a dozen European countries, the United States and Asia attended the event. This remarkable success will enhance Québec’s profile abroad,” the Premier added.

The Vice Rector of Research and Innovation of Université Laval, Sophie D’Amours, highlighted the quality and variety of the speakers present. “Over 70 speakers appeared during the three days of the Symposium. Almost half were from the Nordic countries abroad, in particular Denmark, Greenland or Iceland, as well as from the United States and even France. We enjoyed presentations by world-class speakers who discussed major issues for the future of northern development, from climate change to social problems. These discussions helped us deepen our understanding of certain northern realities,” she continued.

Research, at the heart of the Plan Nord

The Minister of Energy and Natural Ressources and Minister responsible for the Plan Nord, Pierre Arcand, declared that the development of the Plan Nord will open up new avenues for cooperation with the Nordic Council of Ministers and the scientific community.

Research and data collection are at the heart of the relaunched Plan Nord, and highlight the need for an event such as the Symposium. In this regard, and although the details remain to be defined , we plan future editions of this event in Quebec. As the North is developed, we want to bring together all regions of Québec, all communities in the North, and all our international partners concerned by this major sustainable development project. We are taking all the necessary steps to achieve this objective,” he concluded.

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Online as of: July 16, 2015


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