A group of young campaigners on a mission to protect the Arctic is set for a historic and unexpected meeting with a delegation of powerful Arctic officials at the North Pole this week.
Sixteen people, including four international youth ambassadors  — Hollywood actor Ezra Miller, two Arctic Indigenous representatives and a young man from the Seychelles — have recently set out from Barneo Base on a trek with Greenpeace to the geographic North Pole.
But shortly before setting off, they learned that members of the Arctic Council — the governing body comprised of foreign ministers and senior officials from Arctic states — will also be at the North Pole this week.
One of the explorers, Josefina Skerk, is a 26-year-old Swedish-Sami student studying law at Umeå University and a Member of the Sami Parliament in Sweden. When she learned that the Arctic Council would be meeting at the North Pole around the same time, she sent a letter to Gustaf Lind, Swedish chair of Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials, requesting a meeting with her fellow ambassadors, should they auspiciously meet at the North Pole. Mr. Lind has accepted the invitation, and weather-dependent, the groups hope to meet at the North Pole later this week.
The young campaigners are carrying with them a specially designed time capsule  that contains a 2.7 million signature declaration demanding that the Arctic be designated an internationally-recognised global sanctuary. They plan to lower the capsule and a flag through 4.3km of freezing water to the seabed beneath the North Pole.
Speaking from Barneo base, Josefina said:
"We're really excited about meeting Mr. Lind and the rest of the Arctic Council during our trip to the North Pole. I'm with three young people from across the world who all have connections to the Arctic, and it's a great honour to be able to deliver our message to the council in the exact place that we all wish to protect for future generations. This is going to be a really gruelling expedition and we're all a little bit nervous right now. But this is a great chance for us to talk with the people responsible for protecting the Arctic and we know all our supporters around the world would want us to go for it."
In 2007, the Russian explorer Artur Chilingarov planted a Russian flag on the seabed beneath the pole, claiming the Arctic for Moscow. Now the young explorers will challenge that claim by lowering a ‘Flag for the Future’ designed by Sarah Batrisyia, a 13-year old Malaysian girl who won the global competition, co-hosted by Greenpeace and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. The flag, which was chosen by fashion icon Vivienne Westwood, is intended to symbolise hope, global unity and peace.
The activists say no one nation should own the Arctic or be allowed to exploit the melting ice, a crisis created by climate change, for more of the very fuels that caused the melt in the first place.
The impacts of the runaway climate change are already being felt by vulnerable countries in Southeast Asia, like the Philippines where disruptions in monsoon patterns have resulted in more frequent and more destructive typhoons like Bopha/Pablo which devastated much of Southern Mindanao late last year.
The campaigners now plan to meet with the Arctic Council to challenge them and set out their demand that the uninhabited areas around the North Pole be declared a global sanctuary.
For more information, or to arrange interviews with the team at the Pole, please contact:
Therese Salvador, Greenpeace Southeast Asia communications, +63917-8228734,
Jessica Wilson, Greenpeace International Arctic communications, +44 7896 893 118, |
John Novis, Greenpeace International Head of Photography, +31 (0) 629001152,
Various video elements can be downloaded from our publicly accessible ftp server. They include a b-roll package of actor Ezra Miller being trained, profile videos of the three young ambassadors and a video + b-roll package about the "Flag for the Future". This can all be downloaded from the following ftp location:
passw: 0utput (first digit is a zero)
Maarten Van Rouveroy Greenpeace International Head of Video, +31 646 197 322,
 Actor and musician Ezra Miller will be joined by three other youth ambassadors, each with a different connection to the Arctic.
Renny Bijoux is from the Seychelles, an island nation that could disappear due to rising sea levels.
Josefina Skerk is from the Indigenous Sami community in Sweden and a member of the Sami parliament.
Kiera Kolson is a young Tso’Tine-Gwich’in woman from Denendeh, Canada. She works to protect the Arctic with Greenpeace and defends the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
 More information on the construction of the time capsule can be found here.