Biden elevates Arctic policy with Ambassador-at-Large

On August 26, 2022, President Biden moved Arctic policy higher on the national agenda with the announcement of a new ambassador-at-large position for the Arctic region: “The Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region will advance U.S. policy in the Arctic, engage with counterparts in Arctic and non-Arctic nations as well as Indigenous groups, and work closely with domestic stakeholders, including state, local, and Tribal governments, businesses, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, other federal government agencies and Congress.”

Once a nominee is selected that person will have to be confirmed by the Senate. Arctic policy is currently overseen by a coordinator within the State Department, so this escalation has the potential to significantly increase activity in the policy sphere. The move follows on other recent actions by the administration focused on the Arctic, such as the reactivation of the Arctic Steering Committee last year.

The announcement also comes at a time when tensions in the region are rising following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which saw the cessation of official activities by the Arctic Council. Cooperation in the region is being replaced by a new competition between Russia and China on one side and the other six Council members, including the United States, on the other.