In an odd but not unexpected move, the Arctic Council has granted observer status to countries nowhere near the Arctic.
The decision was made by the current members, which include Russia and the US, as well as Canada and other countries which have an Arctic coast.
New observer members include China and India as well as Singapore and South Korea.
Erkki Tuomioja, Finnish Foreign Minister said “This is very much about the environment ….it’s a good learning process also for them to sit at the same table and learn what the real concerns are.”
Any development concerns the indigenous peoples, but the granting of observer status is being seen as a boost for the rising powers which are already active in the region.
The Arctic holds an estimated 13 per cent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 per cent of the planet’s undiscovered gas.