Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic May 13, 2011 - 4:37 pm

Circumpolar residents don’t know much about Arctic Council: study

About half of Canadians know about eight-nation body

CHRIS WINDEYER

Residents of the world’s eight circumpolar countries don’t know much about the Arctic Council, but they still like it, according new survey results released May 12.

The survey, conducted by Ekos Research for the Munk School of Global Affairs and the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, found the highest rates of awareness of the eight-nation Arctic Council in northern Canada and Iceland, where 61 per cent of respondents had heard of the organization.

Just over half, 51 per cent, of southern Canadians interviewed were aware of the Arctic Council.

Only 21 per cent of Russians and 16 per cent of American had heard of the organization, which wrapped up a meeting in Nuuk, Greenland May 12 with a landmark agreement on Arctic search and rescue.

But given a brief description of the council, a majority in all eight Arctic countries held a positive view of the Arctic Council.

Ninety-one per cent of Canadians in the North and 82 per cent in the south though favourably of the Arctic Council. In Sweden, 81 per cent of respondents thought favourably.

The lowest rates of approval were found in the United States (56 per cent) and Russia (55 per cent).

But respondents also preferred to keep the Arctic Council an exclusive club, mostly rejecting the idea of allowing China and the European Union, which both have a growing interest in the Arctic, a seat at the table.

In Canada, Iceland and the United States, fewer than one in four respondents liked the idea of opening up the council to non-Arctic states.

Most European Arctic nations were around 45 to 50 per cent in favour, while only Sweden, at 64 per cent, showed a majority in favour of expanding the council.

The survey interviewed more than 8,300 people in all eight Arctic Council nations, including 744 in northern Canada and 2,053 in the south.

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