A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF SCOTMAC
Scotland Model Arctic Council (SCOTMAC) is a simulation of the real-world Arctic Council . Established in 1996, the Arctic Council is devoted to advancing international cooperation and good governance across the Arctic. Around its table sit not only the Arctic States—Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the USA—but also Arctic Indigenous peoples organisations representing the Aleut, Athabaskans, Gwich’in, Inuit, Saami and the many peoples of the Russian North.
SCOTMAC is one of the few diplomatic simulations of its kind in the world, and one of the very few designed primarily for undergraduates. Hosted by the Scottish Arctic Network , a collaborative alliance of universities researching, teaching and learning about the Circumpolar North, its venue alternates between network members, showcasing Scotland’s wealth of stunning landscapes and vibrant cities.
SCOTMAC is designed and directed by Polar Aspect , whose Managing Principal Dr Anthony Speca lived and worked in the Canadian Arctic as a senior policy official with the Government of Nunavut before becoming an educator. Since 2016, he has launched a number of Polar Aspect MAC conferences to share his enthusiasm for the Arctic with youth, and in the hope of inspiring them to learn more about this unique region and its peoples.
Whilst students with experience of Model United Nations may find some aspects of the conference familiar, SCOTMAC offers an exciting new format of model diplomacy. The Arctic Council is unusual not only in promoting the active involvement of Indigenous peoples alongside states, but also in making all decisions by consensus rather than majority vote. The Arctic Council is also well-known for collegiality and consensus-building even during times of tension between participants elsewhere in the world—valuable skills for a career after university.
PARTICIPATING IN SCOTMAC
Participation in SCOTMAC is open to students from any university around the world, with priority given to undergraduates. Participants are invited to form one or more delegations of two students each to play the role of representatives from one of the eight Arctic States or six Arctic Indigenous peoples’ organisations. Students need not study at the same university in order to form a delegation together, but preparatory work may be easier to coordinate if so. Some students, typically from the host university, will also be invited to play the roles of Secretariat staff facilitating the diplomatic meetings.
No prior experience of the Arctic or of model diplomacy is necessary to participate in SCOTMAC, and delegates will be provided with a Delegate Guide and Research Guide in good time to help them prepare. The SCOTMAC Secretariat will also be on hand before and during the conference to answer any questions. Scheduled ‘reflection’ sessions will help delegates pause to consider the progress of the conference, and to transform their experiences into learning.
At the conference, delegates will grapple with the challenge of reaching consensus on some of the most pressing challenges facing the Arctic, and by extension the world as a whole. Since SCOTMAC operates by the rule of consensus, delegates will find their diplomatic skills stretched and improved. Unlike at other model diplomacy conferences, SCOTMAC delegates do not debate pre-prepared resolutions. Rather, they rise to the challenge of negotiating mutually agreeable ‘declarations’ in real time. To assist with the process of consensus building, each delegation is requested to provide a brief discussion paper a week or two ahead of the conference, which will be circulated to other delegations.
SCOTMAC conferences take place over three full days, and they generally keep to the following schedule:
- Day 1 – Introduction to the Arctic, the Arctic Council and SCOTMAC, plus presentations from Arctic experts, followed by initial diplomatic negotiations and a welcome dinner
- Day 2 – Continued diplomatic negotiations
- Day 3 – Continued diplomatic negotiations with final speeches and a decision on the ‘declaration’, followed by a finale dinner
The conference timetable will also include dedicated opportunities for guided reflection with SCOTMAC Director Dr Anthony Speca and other Arctic experts, in order to support delegates in transforming experience into learning.
A full timetable will be provided to delegates closer to the date of the conference.
ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION AT SCOTMAC
At SCOTMAC, delegates consider issues that are very much of concern to Arctic States and Arctic Indigenous peoples today. Issues are formally set in advance of each SCOTMAC conference to allow good time for preparatory research. Examples of issues considered at past Polar Aspect MAC conferences include:
- Thawing Arctic permafrost
- Plastic pollution in the Arctic marine environment
- Sustainable energy in Arctic communities
- Safety in Arctic marine tourism
- The growth of Arctic shipping
- Meteorological cooperation in the Arctic
- Seismic exploration for oil and gas in the Arctic offshore
- Broadband connectivity in Arctic communities
- Arctic wetlands and climate change
- Educational opportunity for Arctic children
- Marine protected areas in the Arctic
- Suicide in Arctic communities
- The European Union as an Arctic Council Observer
Research briefs will be provided to delegates to help them prepare to discuss the issues set for their SCOTMAC conference.
SCOTMAC DELEGATE MATERIALS
No prior experience of the Arctic or of model diplomacy is necessary to participate in SCOTMAC, nor is it necessary to have participated in any special training. Delegates are provided with a Delegate Guide and a Research Guide in good time ahead of their SCOTMAC conference, in order to help them prepare.
Like at Ministerial meetings of the real Arctic Council, every SCOTMAC conference ends with a declaration summarising the agreements reached, and named after the location where the diplomatic meetings took place. All delegates will receive a specially formatted copy of the declaration as a record of their efforts.
Past SCOTMAC declarations are available for download below. Please note that these declarations represent the collective agreement of student delegates to SCOTMAC, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Polar Aspect, the Scottish Arctic Network or Trent University.
ARCTIC EXPERTS AT SCOTMAC
Each SCOTMAC conference features presentations and talks from experts on the Arctic, climate change and the environment. Arctic experts may also observe conference proceedings, and offer advice to delegates during guided reflection sessions.
Delegates to past SCOTMAC conferences have benefitted from talks, teaching and guidance from such experts as:
- Ms Marie-Anne Coninsx (former EU Ambassador for the Arctic)
- Prof Finlo Cottier (Scottish Association for Marine Science, University of Highlands and Islands)
- Dr Sian Henley (School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh)
- Dr Sennan Mattar (Mary Robinson Centre for Climate Justice, Glasgow Caledonian University)
- Dr Anuschka Miller (Scottish Association for Marine Science, University of Highlands and Islands)
Polar Aspect and the Scottish-Arctic Network are grateful to the following organisations, whose partnership, in-kind support, or generous funding have made SCOTMAC possible:
- Glasgow Caldedonian University (SCOTMAC 2)
- Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society (SCOTMAC 1)
- Scottish Association for Marine Science , an academic partner of the University of Highlands and Islands (SCOTMAC 1)
- Scottish Government Arctic Connections Fund (SCOTMAC 1 & 2)
- Trent University (SCOTMAC 1 & 2)
SCOTMAC has also benefitted from the support of the following organisations:
- Arctic Portal (SCOTMAC 1 & 2)