Last week, U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic Admiral Robert Papp spoke to the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC about “U.S. Leadership in the Arctic.” During his remarks, Admiral Papp discussed the “listening tour” he’s executed to hear the opinions of important international Arctic stakeholders including Alaska Natives and foreign governments like Russia and Norway.
He noted that he understands well that the insight and views of Alaska Natives have a special importance and must bear on all policy decisions that the Obama Administration makes in regards to the Arctic. However, during a question and answer session an Alaskan resident questioned how Alaskans – including Alaska Natives, the State of Alaska and other Alaskans – could have a more effective voice, or a seat at the table, in policy making.
Alaskan leaders such as U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski have decried the lack of consultation and policymaking opportunities for Alaska in regards to recent Arctic decisions affecting oil and natural gas development on federal lands and waters. Admiral Papp responded that, while he’s more focused on the international perspective of Arctic policy, he is working to develop a panel of Alaska Native to ensure a more formal, consistent communication exists.