It might sound like a joke or a punishment for a naughty diplomat, but this is real: The U.S. State Department plans to appoint an Arctic representative to highlight the growing importance of the region.
On Feb. 14, Secretary of State John Kerry sent letters to Alaska’s two U.S. Senators, Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski, explaining that he planned to name a “high-level individual of substantial stature and expertise” to serve as Special Representative for the Arctic Region.
“The great challenges of the Arctic matter enormously to the United States, and they hit especially close to home for Alaska,” Kerry wrote in a statement about the appointment. “I look forward to continuing to work closely with Alaska’s Congressional delegation to strengthen America’s engagement in Arctic issues.”
With the U.S. set to take over the rotating chairmanship of the eight-nation Arctic Council in 2015, Kerry said he believed it was vital to elevate Arctic issues and interests within the State Department.
“For a long time now, I’ve shared the view that the Arctic region really is the last global frontier, and the United States needs to elevate our attention and effort to keep up with the opportunities and consequences presented by the Arctic’s rapid transformation,” Kerry wrote in the letters, which were released by the senators’ offices.
While the position is likely more diplomatic than exploratory, the traditional Arctic ambassador has worn a lot more goose down than button-downs.
“Does anyone else really want this job?” posted Polar Explorer Eric Larsen on Facebook.
We asked him if would, indeed, be interested in the job.
“Don’t think I’ve got the experience but I’m going to follow up with requirements,” Larsen said.
Bundle up, ambassador! —Sean McCoy