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Italy – Canada and the Arctic: same values and common goals

Italy – Canada and the Arctic: same values and common goals

Thanks to the invitation of the Osservatorio Artico, the Centro Studi Italia-Canada sponsored and coordinated the opening conference of the 3-day-festival "Italia Chiama Artico" last January 14th .


It was an opportunity for dialogue between Italy and Canada on issues related to the Arctic that has brought out the common vision of the two countries also in the context of this important and unique region.

The report of the speeches at “Italia e Canada, Visioni per l’Artico

Ambassador Alexandra Bugailiskis, Embassy of Canada to Italy
Ambassador Claudio Taffuri, Embassy of Italy to Canada
Francesco Norante, President Leonardo Canada
Paolo Quattrocchi, Director Centro Studi Italia-Canada
Laura Borzi, Analyst Centro Studi Italia-Canada

Moderator: Leonardo Parigi, founder Osservatorio Artico


 “Italy and Canada share the same priorities in the Arctic: protecting health, safeguarding the environment, promoting opportunities for an inclusive economy”


The Ambassador of Canada to Italy, Alexandra Bugailiskis, opened the Conference Italia-Canada Visioni per l’Artico, which the Centro Studi Italia Canada handled as part of the 3-day debate of the Italia Chiama Artico Festival organized by the Osservatorio Artico.


"An opportunity for dialogue for which we thank Osservatorio Artico," said the director of the CSIC Paolo Quattrocchi, partner of Nctm Studio Legale. From the discussion it emerged that Canada and Italy have close ties and common values".


The Italian Ambassador to Ottawa, Claudio Taffuri, the President of Leonardo Canada, Francesco Norante, recently interviewed by CSIC, also accepted the invitation of the Centro Studi Italia Canada. Laura Borzi, analyst of the CSIC, closed the speeches, outlining the geopolitical context of the Arctic region.


Ambassador Alexandra Bugailiskis, The Embassy of Canada in Rome


Ambassador Bugailiskis first offered an overview of Canada's Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, highlighting the process by which the strategy went through to implement a framework based on inclusive collaboration with indigenous authorities and communities.


The key themes of the Canadian strategy are people, inclusion, prosperity, health, security and sovereignty, stressed the Canadian representative in Italy in her speech.


The goal of Canadian Arctic policy is to respond to new global challenges and the opportunities that open up, as well as strengthen the commitment to establish a system of rules based on international order and cooperation and, of course, security and defense of Canada.


In order to pursue these goals, the Arctic strategy has been updated to comply with the changes in the Arctic as well as national priorities.


Furthermore, the impacts of Covid-19 on the polar region, the difficulties in managing the pandemic due to the geographical characteristics and the lack of infrastructure, have prompted the Canadian government to direct huge economic resources towards the Arctic to meet the local needs that have emerged: such as access to food and the health system, support for local entrepreneurs and the supply system.


The Ambassador also dedicated part of her speech to highlight the relations between Canada and Italy and, in particular, the common vision for the Arctic, as also emerges from the Italian strategy focused on scientific research, protection of biodiversity, promotion of Italian excellence especially in research.


"This year, the Italian presidency of the G20 and the COP 26 co-presidency will provide even more opportunities to work together and take action to address the challenges related to the rapid evolution of the Arctic region," concluded the Ambassador.



Ambassador Claudio Taffuri, The Embassy of Italy in Canada


The Italian Ambassador to Canada Taffuri provided the key elements of the Italian strategy in the Arctic, especially for the role assumed since 2013 as an Observer Country in the Arctic Council.


The Arctic is particularly important for Canada but it is also important for Italy and the planet, he said:


 “The Arctic is a true laboratory of biodiversity, but at the same time it is a very fragile system, particularly due to the negative effects of global warming. It is also an important indicator of the health of the global ecosystem available to the international community. It is, therefore, imperative to preserve the Acrtic region by defining a shared system of rules for the sustainable use of its resources. And Italy is very active and intends to continue to collaborate for this”.


To coordinate activities related to participation in the Arctic Council, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has established a special table for the Arctic to coordinate work and to maintain a constant dialogue between Italy, businesses, and institutions present in the Arctic.


The table published the first Guidelines towards an italian strategy for the arctic, a document that summarizes the origins, evolution and objectives of the Italian presence in the Arctic.   


The Italian Ambassador and the Canadian Ambassador agreed in bringing out the similarities between the Italian strategy for the Arctic and the Canadian 2019 Policy Framework.

"This makes our country - said Taffuri - suitable for privileged cooperation with Canada in many different sectors in the Arctic.
In particular, Italy, like Canada, also supports the sovereign rights of the Arctic states and the promotion of local values, culture and traditions of indigenous peoples, supporting the commitment to bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the region”.


Canada’s development plans in the Arctic have similar goals to Italy’s.


In addition to improving the living conditions of local populations, the Canadian and Italian strategy have identified the same priorities as investments in infrastructure, transport and communications, all sectors that represent enormous opportunities for collaboration between Italy and Canada.


"Cooperation in the Arctic requires specific knowledge and skills that Italy can provide through its companies as a leader in infrastructure development and in the energy sector".  


The Italian Arctic strategy also assigns great importance to scientific research, an area of strong cooperation between Italy and Canada.


In 2015, cooperation in the scientific sector was strengthened with the signing of the STI Action Plan which, among other things, identified the Arctic as a region of collaboration between Italy and Canada in the field of science and technological innovation.

But the Arctic also offers opportunities for cooperation in the defense and security sector.


Francesco Norante - President Leonardo Canada


On this point, Francesco Norante, President of Leonardo Canada spoke, proposing a brief on the company's presence in Canada and in particular on its relations with the Arctic.


Leonardo is among the major players in Canada in the defense and security and aeronautical programs sector, in particular for air traffic control, cybersecurity, and automation.


This commitment has recently required a strengthening of governance through the creation of a Canadian subsidiary based in Ottawa, Leonardo Canada.


Leonardo is present in the Arctic with different abilities, explained Norante.


"We have been supporting activities in the Arctic since 2008. We have signed a partnership with ASI (Italian Space Agency) for the creation of a constellation of satellites, the Cosmo Sky-Med system, which in the first ten years of activity has captured over 1 million radar scenes around the world. These images are essential for the early identification of ice movements, climate change, pollution. We believe this contributes concretely to a sustainable approach. A contribution to minimizing the elements that have negative impacts on the environment, as happens in the Arctic ".


Norante recalled Leonardo's support also in the field of scientific research, for the High North 2020-2022 marine geophysics research campaign organized by the Italian Navy and the Navy Hydrographic Institute. The "Alliance", a multi-purpose NATO research vessel, has as destination the Arctic and is managed by the Italian Navy.


With another very important portion of the Italian company's business, that of Search and Rescue, Leonardo is also the only industrial entity involved in the European ARCSAR program to support security, emergency response, and technological and sustainable development in the arctic region.


Laura Borzi, analyst of the Centro Studi Italia Canada expert in the Arctic and the Canada's foreign policy agenda


Laura Borzi, a CSIC analyst who on several occasions has edited articles and insights dedicated to the very particular situation that geopolitics assumes in the Arctic, oriented towards cooperation and multilateralism, closes the Arctic panel edited by the CSIC.


Borzi focused on the importance of the Arctic in the current geopolitical context:


"The Arctic is at the center of the global geopolitical strategy for two phenomena: the acceleration of climate change that makes the Arctic crowded, between Arctic and non-Arctic states; secondly, the global competition between the United States, Russia and China".


As for Canada's response to the current challenges posed by the Arctic, the Canadian Policy Framework is perfectly in line with the need - our analyst pointed out - that the Arctic region must remain devoted to multilateralism, whose erosion is precisely the element that makes the global system and the confrontation between the United States and China more dynamic, which in the Arctic acts in economic partnership with Russia.


First, Canada's Arctic and Northern Policy Framework is more than a strategy, it is a real roadmap that will lead to 2030 and that reflects on the leadership role assumed by Canada and played on a safety and security level.


The Framework is people-centered and built in a collaborative way. It also reflects a change in the security environment.


Canada is raising the level of attention on security aspects also through its military capability in the Arctic, which is very important for Search & Rescue activities.


Canada is not chasing a militarization of the Arctic, it is rather about implementing security-oriented military aspects that impact the lives of the inhabitants, bearing in mind that the Arctic is a very harsh and fragile environment.


The goal is therefore the safety of the people as well as eliminating the gap between what Southern Canadians take for granted and the needs of the people living in the North.


Borzi closed on an aspect on which all the speakers focused:


"Peace must be maintained in the Arctic and the most important aspect is international cooperation. The change in the dynamics of power in the rest of the world raises fears that there may be repercussions in the Arctic region but currently all forces are collaborating ”.


Review the Conference
(English Language)


The political Arctic


In conclusion, the three-day debate and confrontation organized by the Osservatorio Artico as part of the Italia Chiama Artico Festival was a precious opportunity, to which we are happy to have contributed, to take stock of an area of crucial importance to environmental, economic, and political level.


On this last aspect, we point out the closing round table of the Festival entitled  “Artico, la nuova frontiera (?)”, With Lucio Caracciolo, Director, Limes, Italian Geopolitical Review, Franco Frattini, President, SIOI, and Federico Petroni, Osservatorio Artico / Limes Analyst, Italian Geopolitics Review. Petroni, in particular, focused, among other things, on the historical importance of the Arctic for Canada which assumes an increasingly strategic significance in the current context:


"The Canadians are very concerned by the renewed military interest in the Arctic, both Russian, Chinese and American. A more congested and competitive Arctic risks crushing Canadian sovereignty".


Federico Petroni's speech on Canada's role in the Arctic >>



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