The Alaska National Guard hosted representatives of 24 Pacific nations in Anchorage this week for the 2017 Pacific Environmental Security Forum.

The event is a chance for civilian and military leaders to discuss managing the environment in the region, today and into the future. They shared best practices when it comes to environmental stewardship and identified partnership opportunities for militaries in the region to support environmental programs.

AKNG Adjutant General Laurie Hummel opened the conference on Tuesday. She said climate change in the arctic is speeding up. The thawing permafrost, erosion and sea rise are creating engineering challenges, similar to those seen in other countries around the Pacific.

Hummel said warming temperatures are opening the arctic to more use and traffic, but it’s not clear if the countries involved will be cooperative or competitive.

“The arctic right here is a bell weather for how climate change is set to reshape global geopolitics,” said Hummel. “Although the arctic states generally emphasize their desire to maintain a cooperative environment, several have stated that they will defend their national interests in the region if it becomes necessary.”

The forum wrapped up Thursday.

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