A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF TRYKOMAC
Trent-Yukon Model Arctic Council (TRYKOMAC) 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.
TRYKOMAC is a joint educational event of Trent University and Yukon University . Its venue alternates between Trent’s beautiful campus on the banks of the Otonabee River in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, and Yukon University’s central campus in the vibrant northern capital of Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. It is one of the few diplomatic simulations of its kind in the world, and also one of the very few designed primarily for undergraduates.
TRYKOMAC is designed and directed by Polar Aspect , whose Managing Principal Dr Anthony Speca lived and worked in the Arctic as a senior policy official with the Government of Nunavut, one of Canada’s Arctic territories, before becoming an educator. Since 2016, he has launched a number of Polar Aspect MAC conferences, both in-person and online, in order 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, TRYKOMAC 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 TRYKOMAC
Participation in TRYKOMAC is open to students from universities around the world. Participants are invited to form delegations of up to six 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 they might find it easier to coordinate their preparations if so. 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.
No prior experience of the Arctic or of model diplomacy is necessary to participate in TRYKOMAC, and delegates will be provided with a Delegate Guide and Research Guide in good time to help them prepare. The TRYKOMAC 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.
Since TRYKOMAC operates by the rule of consensus, delegates will find their interpersonal and communication skills stretched and improved. Unlike at other model diplomacy conferences, TRYKOMAC 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.
TRYKOMAC conferences take place over five full days, and they generally keep to the following schedule:
- Day 1 – A teaching day featuring introductions to the Arctic, the Arctic Council and TRYKOMAC, plus presentations from Arctic experts, followed by opening speeches from delegates and a welcome dinner
- Day 2 – Diplomatic negotiations
- Day 3 – Continued diplomatic negotiations, followed by guided reflection on progress with Arctic experts
- Day 4 – Field visit relevant to Arctic, Canadian North or issues under discussion at TRYKOMAC
- Day 5 – Continued diplomatic negotiations with final speeches and a decision on the ‘declaration’, plus guided reflection on the conference with Arctic experts, followed by a finale dinner
A full timetable will be provided to delegates closer to the date of the conference.
ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION
At TRYKOMAC, 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 TRYKOMAC 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 TRYKOMAC conference.
No prior experience of the Arctic or of model diplomacy is necessary to take part in TRYKOMAC. Delegates will be provided with a Delegate Guide and a Research Guide a in good time ahead of their TRYKOMAC conference, in order to help them prepare.
Like at the real Arctic Council, every TRYKOMAC conference ends with a Ministerial declaration summarising the agreements reached, and named after the location where the diplomatic meetings took place. Past declarations are available below. Please note that these declarations represent the collective agreement of student delegates to TRYKOMAC, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Trent University, Yukon University or Polar Aspect.
Each TRYKOMAC 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 Polar Aspect MAC conferences have benefitted from talks, teaching and guidance from such experts as:
- Ms Beth Derks (School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication, University of East Anglia)
- Dr Odile Crabeck (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
- Ms Sarah Gavron and Mr David Katznelson (filmmakers, Village at the End of the World)
- Dr Nanna Kaalund (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)
- Ms Christine Kelly (Polar Regions Department, UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office)
- Mr Asher Minns (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia)
- Prof Mariele Neudecker (Bath School of Art, Bath Spa University)
- Prof Heather Nicol (School for the Study of Canada and School of the Environment, Trent University)
- Mr Tony Penikett OC (former Premier, Yukon Territory)
- Prof Antonio Quesada (Spanish Polar Committee, and Faculty of Science, Autonomous University of Madrid)
- Dr David Rose (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
- Dr Anthony Speca (Polar Aspect, and School for the Study of Canada, Trent University)
- Mr Matthew Willis (International Defence Relations, Global Affairs Canada)
Trent University, Yukon University and Polar Aspect are grateful to the following organisations whose generous funding has made TRYKOMAC possible:
- Universities Canada (TRYKOMAC 1)
TRYKOMAC has also benefitted from the support of the following organisations:
- Arctic Portal (TRYKOMAC 1)