2022 Meridian Diplomacy Forum — Statecraft in the Evolving Frontiers: Ocean, Arctic and Space

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SUMMARY

Science and technological innovation are decreasing the barriers of entry to space, while climate change is expanding the operability of the Arctic and renewing focus on our oceans. These areas of limited sovereignty offer exciting opportunities to improve and support humankind. At the same time, national and corporate interests are bound to collide with the participation of more state and non-state actors. Held on April 12, the 2022 Meridian Diplomacy Forum, Statecraft in the Evolving Frontiers: Ocean, Arctic and Space, explored international relations and the shifting global order in these increasingly accessible arenas.  

Taking place on Meridian's campus for the first time since 2019 due to the pandemic, the event kicked off in the morning with a breakfast discussion for international chiefs of mission on space, Arctic and maritime diplomacy. This was led by Major General Charles F. Bolden, NASA Administrator (2009-2017) and Clarke Cooper, Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs (2021).  

Meridian CEO Ambassador Stuart Holliday opened the main public-facing portion of the Diplomacy Forum in the afternoon through a conversation with Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, which addressed the intersection of national security and diplomacy.  Director Haines emphasized that U.S. and allied preparedness and response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the product of a whole-of-intelligence community effort, with diplomacy playing a critical role. She also underscored the increasing importance of being in regular communication with the scientific community to understand how the physical threats of looming environmental challenges will affect national security at large.  

Science diplomacy served as a subtheme across each of the three afternoon discussions, which focused on ocean, Arctic and space diplomacy respectively. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs J.R. Littlejohn, oceanographer Larry Mayer, and astrophysicist Benjamin Schmitt were among those who delved into how scientists have fostered tremendous sources of international cooperation over the years. During his opening remarks, Ambassador Holliday announced the Diplomatic Skills Training for Young Scientists, which is organized in partnership with the National Science Policy Network (NSPN) and Global Blood Therapeutics, Inc. (GBT). Part of Meridian’s DiplomacyRISE initiative that was launched at the 2021 Diplomacy Forum, the hybrid course will provide scientists, doctors, engineers and similar professionals interested in becoming international affairs practitioners with education focused on soft skills that are central to diplomacy. 

Between those gathered at Meridian’s White-Meyer House and the virtual participants who tuned in on Meridian's website and social media platforms, over 1,000 American and foreign diplomats, issue-area experts, business leaders and next generation global affairs professionals took part in the main public-facing portion of the event. Attendees had an opportunity to hear from USG officials, such as U.S. Coordinator for the Arctic Jim DeHart and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Assistant Director for Space Policy Ezinne Uzo-Okoro, and leading international voices including Ambassador of Kenya to the U.S. Lazarus Amayo, Ambassador of Norway to the U.S. Anniken Krutnes, Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet and veteran American diplomat Ambassador John Negroponte.  

The afternoon Forum segued into an evening “Careers in International Affairs Networking” reception in Meridian’s Linden Grove. This was a chance for college students and young professionals to meet and engage with U.S. Foreign and Civil Service Officers and other professionals who have spent their entire careers in global affairs. For many of the next generation attendees, this was their first formal in-person networking opportunity because the pandemic had shifted such activities to Zoom and other virtual platforms. 

Are you interested in digging deeper into the 2022 Meridian Diplomacy Forum? Top takeaways, images and the full On Demand video for each of our three thematic sessions as well as the keynote address by Director Haines are featured below. 

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Forum Agenda

WELCOME REMARKS watch

Ambassador Stuart W. Holliday, CEO, Meridian International Center

KEYNOTE ADDRESS watch

The Honorable Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence

OCEAN ALLIANCE AND GOVERNANCE: A RISING TIDE FOR MARITIME DIPLOMACY watch Ocean Diplomacy Takeaways

Oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s surface, house 80% of the planet’s life and carry 90% of globally traded goods. Oceans are also a whale of an ally in combating climate change as they absorb 25% of all carbon dioxide emissions and capture 90% of the additional heat generated from those emissions. While maritime issues have failed to surface on the world stage in recent years, a sea change may be underway. President Emmanuel Macron recently announced a new coalition to deliver a global high seas treaty for marine conservation, and the UN will host its first ocean conference in over five years this summer. This session wade into how nations are employing “blue diplomacy” to tackle issues from pollution and overfishing to piracy and shipping constraints. It also explored the state of U.S. maritime leadership, while detailing the responsibilities of the State Department and other agencies regarding oceanic security, boundaries, and scientific research. 

Session Keynote Speaker: Roy Kapani, Chairman and CEO, SEACORP 

Featured speaker: J.R. Littlejohn, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

His Excellency Lazarus Amayo, Ambassador of Kenya to U.S. 

Larry Mayer, Ph.D., Chair, U.S. National Committee for the UN Decade of Ocean Science  

Ambassador John Negroponte, Vice Chair, McLarty Associates 

Moderator:Sharon Weinberger, National Security Editor, The Wall Street Journal 

BREAKING THE ICE: THE EMERGING LANDSCAPE FOR ARCTIC DIPLOMACY watch  Arctic Diplomacy Takeaways

Eroding coastlines, thawing permafrost, and disappearing sea ice in the Arctic are giving way to new shipping routes and greater access to ports as well as oil, gas, and critical minerals. Conversely, the longtime spirit of cooperation and peace among some Arctic governments is growing increasingly frosty. Many nations, including the United States, are turning to their militaries and making bellicose moves to safeguard their interests in the region and forecast their ambitions. This session explored how the U.S. Arctic Policy can balance the Biden Administration’s increasing environmental and anti-climate change agenda on one hand with important security and economic interests on the other. It also madethe case for expanding science diplomacy, while showcasing successful applications of economic and public diplomacy. 

Featured Speaker: Ms. Lisa Koperqualuk, Vice-President (International), Inuit Circumpolar Council – Canada 

Vice Admiral Scott Buschman, Deputy Commandant for Operations, U.S. Coast Guard  

James DeHart, U.S. Coordinator for the Arctic Region, U.S. Department of State 

Her Excellency Anniken Krutnes, Ambassador of Norway to the U.S. 

Moderator: Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, Senior Fellow, Harvard University Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs; Vice Chair, Atlantic Council Scowcroft Center 

UNIVERSAL APPEAL: THE ASTRONOMICAL NEED FOR MODERN SPACE DIPLOMACY watch  Space Diplomacy Takeaways

Sustained international cooperation and harmony in space has led to scientific and technological breakthroughs, strengthened natural disaster response, and now may support efforts to combat climate change. Today, space activity is greatly accelerating by both nation-states and private enterprise for commercial, security and scientific purposes. The potential for future conflict is skyrocketing as nation-states develop an array of counterspace weapons, while increased traffic may lead to collision with satellites and harmful space debris. The global governance system remains limited and antiquated, with many calling for modernization of the Outer Space Treaty. Diplomacy is needed to establish international regulations and norms of responsible behavior commensurate with today’s opportunities and challenges. This segment addressed the call for U.S. leadership to work with other nations to modernize the global governance system to maintain peace and comradery in space, while fostering an environment supportive of commercialization and private sector innovation.

Session Keynote Speaker: His Excellency Ashok Mirpuri, Ambassador of Singapore to the U.S. 

Featured Speaker: Jim Taiclet, Chairman, President and CEO, Lockheed Martin 

Benjamin L. Schmitt, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Project Development Scientist, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Rethinking Diplomacy Program Fellow, Duke University 

Audrey Schaffer, Director of Space Policy, National Security Council  

Uzo-Okoro, Ph.D. Assistant Director for Space Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy 

Moderator: Major General Charles F. Bolden Jr., USMC (Ret.), 12th NASA Administrator; Founder and CEO Emeritus, The Charles F. Bolden Group

 

The Diplomacy Forum was held in partnership with

Roy and Manisha Kapani
Akram Elias
Israel Hernandez

Project summary

2022 Meridian Diplomacy Forum — Statecraft in the Evolving Frontiers: Ocean, Arctic and Space | April 2022
Number of Attendees: 1100
Regions: Africa, East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, Western Hemisphere
Impact Areas: Public Diplomacy, Energy and the Environment, Foreign Policy, Global Health, Science and Technology
Program Areas: Diplomacy
Partners: Diplomatic Corps, Individuals/Donors, NGOs, Private Sector