The northern municipality of about 5000 people hosted young professionals, students, and decision makers from each of the Arctic nations. About 70 participants were brought together for three busy days filled with educational presentations, workshops and panel discussions with governmental representatives.

Mayor of Jokkmokk, Anna Hovenmark held a buffet reception at City Hall on the evening of February 1, treating her guests to reindeer, salmon and other local culinary delights.

"We live in a special part of the world," said Mayor Hovenmark as she welcomed participants to Jokkmokk, "for me, paradise is above the Arctic Circle."

The conference was then opened by Ellinor Kuhmunen, who sang three traditional Sami Joiks. One song, she explained, was about camping in the mountains of Northern Sweden in July – a time when the sun barely sets. As a child, she asked her father how he knew when it was nighttime, he answered, "here, there are no nights and there are no days, there’s only life." This set the tone for a conference about life in the north, how it is changing, and what young leaders can do about these changes.
Ellinor Kuhmunen
Ellinor Kuhmunen

Climate change in the north was the focus of the conference and during the next three days, participants listened to presentations by environmentalists, like Mark Lynas, author of "Six Degrees"; and academics, such as Dr. Thomas Ries, Director of the Institute for International Affairs, Stockholm, who talked about societal and economic effects of climate change.

A green revolution in the north was the topic of a presentation by Professor Beatrix Alsanius, from the Swedish University of Agricultural Studies. This centered on new possibilities for horticulture in the North.

Peter Sylwan, from Lund University, Sweden spoke about northern solutions and adaptations to climate change. He suggested we "replace heavy things with thought," meaning we must use our creativity to come up with solutions to material problems.

"Of course it’s important to talk to young people about new concepts of sustainable agriculture, you are the ones who are not prejudiced and can discuss without being stuck within concepts of time," said Sylwan when asked why he participated in the conference.

In the afternoons, participants split into parallel workshops to discuss the topics of the day. These workshops were used to develop recommendations, which were later presented to government representatives from each Arctic Nation.
Conference Participants catch a sleigh ride to the market

Though the young participants were kept quite busy, there was time for some fun. One evening, participants were invited to join in some traditional Swedish dancing. Participants were also surprised with transportation by horse-drawn sleigh to Jokkmokk’s historic winter market, which had blacksmith demonstrations, a snow church, and many wonderful arts and crafts for sale.

Participants included university and high school students, journalists, NGO workers, environmentalists, researchers, university professors, IISD Interns, and youth groups.

"It was really impressive to see how much experience, knowled