AN event at which students take on the roles of Arctic diplomats will be held in Scotland next month, in a one-of-a-kind forum that is sure to draw global attention.

Oban will host the first Scottish Model Arctic Council (SCOTMAC) following a successful bid by the Scottish Association for Marine Science.

The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum focused on improving the lives of those living in the Arctic region. Its members include not just eight Arctic states, but also importantly six organisations representing the indigenous peoples of the Arctic.

Member states include Russia, Denmark, Finland, Canada, Sweden and the US. The forum consists of six working groups, each of which focuses on a separate issue such as sustainable development and Arctic contaminants.

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The Arctic Council is different to other intergovernmental organisations in that a consensus between the national members is required to pass a resolution as opposed to a majority.

The model version of the Arctic Council was established by Polar Aspect, a consultancy firm that offers expertise and research in all areas relating to Arctic governance. The event will see Polar Aspect’s founder, Dr Anthony Speca, bring his expertise to Scotland for the diplomatic simulation.

Speca will direct the model council and is an expert in Arctic issues having held governmental advisory roles in the past.

Over several days, students will mimic the role of diplomats representing the Arctic nations and peoples. They will be tasked with finding solutions to some of the regions most important issues.

Those students lucky enough to take part will gain access to a library of research, made available by Polar Aspect in the collaboration, information site Arctic Portal. It will give students the opportunity to debate issues on a variety of subjects including sustainable energy, broadband connectivity and plastic pollution.

There is no doubt that these problems are mutually important, and as such the model council will rehearse Scotland’s future leaders in providing solutions to some of the country’s most pressing issues.

The conference will welcome participants from across the globe and will allow Scottish students and academics to engage with a wide range of peers.

While model United Nations societies exist across several universities, the Arctic Council event is the first of its kind in Scotland. It also sets Scotland apart by being one of the very few countries, not just in the UK, but in the world to house a model Arctic Council. It will also give a boost to Oban’s local economy by drawing in a range of visitors, outside of the typical tourist season.

The model council might not have been possible without the existence of the Arctic Connections Fund. It was launched by the Scottish Government in July last year, aimed at boosting collaboration with organisations in the Arctic region. The initial budget for the fund was £70,000 but it was later increased to £105,000 “due to overwhelming demand” after 58 applications were submitted.

The large number of applications clearly signals a significant desire in Scotland to work alongside partners on Arctic issues.

Another project that has obtained a grant is Robert Gordon University’s attempt to address the out-migration of young people in the Highlands and islands by studying how Arctic regions deal with the issue.

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The Scottish Government states that the project will involve “a series of online interviews, with experts and other stakeholders from across the region”. It will hopefully help to identify policies that can be implemented in Scotland.

The Kyle and Lochalsh Community Trust was also successful in its bid to further a collaborative project with the Lofotr Viking Museum in Norway and the Skagafjörður Heritage Museum in Iceland.

The fund is just one of the Scottish Government’s efforts to branch out to the Arctic and Nordic nations in the past few years. Others include the establishment of a shadow embassy in Copenhagen, set to further bolster Scotland’s international ties.

Such plans no doubt lay a strong foundation for Scotland’s diplomatic relations as a potential future independent country. They are miles away from the rhetoric of the Conservative government that has sought to break the United Kingdom away from close partners in Europe.