Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 437

Briefing Note 25 Years of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) Malgorzata Smieszek The Arctic Council (AC) is generally considered the primary circumpolar forum for international cooperation in the region (Graczyk 2012; Koivurova 2009). This view is reflected in the increasing interest that the Council has attracted over the last couple of years – both from the non-Arctic states and actors as well as from Arctic nations, in particular the United States which holds the AC Chairmanship from 2015 to 2017. Yet, while the Arctic Council is coming to its 20th anniversary in 2016, another body established by the eight Arctic states celebrates this year twenty-five years of its operation. The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) founded in 1990 is a non-governmental international scientific organization, which today encompasses national science organizations from 23 countries conducting research in and on the Arctic. Over the past 25 years IASC has evolved into the leading international science entity focused on the North and thus the anniversary provides an excellent opportunity to recall its beginnings and to reflect upon its evolution, achievements made to date and challenges that lay ahead of it in future. Foundation of IASC The initiative for the development of IASC drew largely on the history of polar exploration (Keskitalo 2004) and international scientific cooperation in the Arctic that began in the late 19th century with the Malgorzata Smieszek has been the IASC Fellow since 2014, and a researcher and PhD Student at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland. She is also a member of the Organizing Committee of the Arctic Observing Summit to take place in Fairbanks in March 2016.