The second Scotland Model Arctic Council (SCOTMAC 2) successfully concluded in March this year, with an engaging diplomatic simulation where undergraduate students from universities across Scotland, the rest of the UK, and beyond, played the role of representatives from the eight Arctic States or Arctic Indigenous peoples’ organizations. Following the success of SCOTMAC 1 in Oban last year, this year’s conference was held at Glasgow Caledonian University in collaboration with Polar Aspect and supported by funds from the Scottish Government’s Arctic Connections Fund.
The aim of the conference, designed and managed by Polar Aspect, was to educate youth on the Arctic and its people, while also fostering skills such as speaking and consensus-building, in an educational and fun environment. It provided an opportunity for the new cohort of students interested in the Arctic to build lasting friendships with fellow delegates and learn about the most pressing issues facing the region.
SCOTMAC 2 saw 27 students from 12 countries representing 11 universities based in 3 countries come together to tackle two challenging issues in the Arctic – Climate engineering in the Arctic and the future of Arctic cooperation. The diplomatic discussions were intense, and at times, close to collapse before being revived again when the student delegates managed to discover a way forward. Polar Aspect kept a running commentary of the conference over Twitter to document the journey of the immersed negotiators.
During the conference, the delegates mapped out problems and defined solutions over formal and informal conference sessions, breaking out whiteboards to better articulate their positions, and even working through their breaks to keep the negotiations alive. In the end, their efforts paid off as the delegates were able to reach a consensus on both of the challenging issues, and published a joint declaration dubbed “The Glasgow Declaration”. The delegate’s discussions were complicated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, especially over the issue of the transfer the Arctic Council chairmanship which has no simple solution, yet the delegates worked hard to keep their negotiations realistic and grounded, and the students issued their own statement on Ukraine reflecting their wish for a strong, healthy, and peaceful Arctic.
The conference proved to be a great learning experience for the delegates, who said they had a better understanding of the Arctic and the Indigenous peoples living in the region. They also reported improvements in their skills in public speaking, negotiating, and collaborating with others.
“Before participating in SCOTMAC, my knowledge of the Arctic and its peoples was incredibly limited. To be entirely honest, I didn’t even know the Arctic Council existed. However, after the conference I feel like I have learnt so much more about the Arctic in a diplomatic, social and environmental sense.” – Testimonial from a delegate
“I most learned about collaboration and negotiation, diplomacy is not something I’m used to, and I am very grateful to have learned more about it!” – Testimonial from a delegate
“The conference is brilliantly organised, everyone is very supportive and friendly, and it’s an experience I would strongly recommend to any university student with an interest in politics, international relations, as well as the Arctic.” – Testimonial from a delegate
SCOTMAC 2 was a great success according to the students who rated their experience as 4.5 out of 5, and all of them recommended the Model Arctic Council to others.
With the conference being over double oversubscribed, there is a lot of enthusiasm by young people from diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines to attend Arctic educational events, like SCOTMAC 2, to learn and discuss the most pressing issues facing the Arctic.
Any student with an interest in the Arctic and the world of diplomacy should keep an eye out for the next one!
By Sennan Matar