Rising temperatures (in the Arctic between three and four times the global average) and the gradual melting of ice have increased attention to the region, given its understandable environmental concerns and possible greater economic exploitation. With a long tradition of polar expeditions dating back over a hundred years, Italy has been an Observer State to the Arctic Council since 2013. Scientific research is the driving force behind Italian action in the Arctic and takes the “Dirigibile Italia” Base in the Svalbard Islands (Norway), active since 1997, as its main point of reference. To provide further impetus to these activities, the Budget Law for 2018 established the Scientific Committee for the Arctic, whose primary task is to elaborate and monitor the Arctic Research Programme. In addition, the Arctic Table, with the participation of ministries, companies and entities interested in the region, meets periodically at the Farnesina.
The main forum for regional collaboration is the Arctic Council, created in 1996, composed of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. The Arctic Council includes six Arctic indigenous peoples’ associations as Permanent Participants. It operates through working groups on sustainable development, environmental monitoring, marine environment protection, biodiversity conservation, and emergency prevention and management. The Arctic Council suspended its activities in early March 2022 following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which held the two-year rotating Presidency of the Council. The handover of the Chairmanship to Norway on 11 May 2023 opened new prospects for resuming work. There are numerous conferences on Arctic topics: among those held annually, of particular note are Arctic Circle, which takes place in October in Reykjavìk, and Arctic Frontiers, which takes place in Tromsø between late January and early February.
In the Insights section, further information and documents on Italy in the Arctic and the region’s leading international bodies of interest.