Defence Minister Sajjan participates in the EU Defense Washington Forum 

News release

June 29, 2021 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Today, Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan participated in a virtual panel on the Arctic during the EU Defense Washington Forum alongside Danish Defence Minister Trine Bramsen and Mr. James DeHart, the United States’ Coordinator for the Arctic Region. The panel, moderated by Deputy Director Rachel Ellehuus, Center for Strategic and International Studies, addressed the security implications of climate change, in particular those of a changing Arctic. During the meeting, Minister Sajjan and his colleagues discussed the strategic importance of the Arctic as climate change, technological advancements, economic interests, and geopolitical competition converge to change the strategic outlook in the region.

Canada’s Arctic territory encompasses over 40% of our total land mass and 75% of our country’s coastlines. Climate change presents immediate and long-term challenges for Canada’s defence and security in the Arctic, where accelerated permafrost degradation and coastal erosion are threatening Northern infrastructure and livelihoods.

Minister Sajjan also highlighted that climate change is creating additional pressures on Canada’s military, placing greater demands on critical defence infrastructure, as well as Canadian Armed Forces’ surveillance, mobility and rapid response capabilities. Minister Sajjan underscored that defence infrastructure is critical for supporting continental defence — including NORAD — the Canada-United States binational North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Canada is committed to addressing the immediate and long-term security challenges presented by climate change. At the NATO Summit on June 14, Canada announced its proposal to establish and host a new NATO Centre of Excellence on Climate and Security, which would provide Allies with a central location to pool their knowledge and develop effective preparedness and responses to the security impacts of climate change.


“It is vitally important that we discuss the impacts of climate change on the Arctic with our trusted allies and partners in the face of unprecedented challenges. Canada will continue working with the global community to keep pace and advance trust in areas of mutual concern, including climate change and to strengthen the rules-based international order. Above all, we will work together to maintain the Arctic as a region of peace and stability.”

The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

Quick facts

  • The EU Defense Washington Forum is an annual symposium dedicated to strengthening European Union-United States cooperation on security and defence. This year, the forum brought together leading stakeholders and experts from the transatlantic security and defence communities to focus on developing a shared analysis of the threat environment and of the capabilities required to improve our collective and individual response. Minister Sajjan’s participation today marks the first time a Canadian speaker has participated in this event.

  • Canada’s Defence Policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged outlines the commitment to modernize NORAD and strengthen continental defence. It also outlines several Arctic initiatives, and reaffirms asserting Canada’s Arctic sovereignty as a priority for the Government of Canada. 

  • The Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) permanent presence in the North is anchored by Joint Task Force North in Yellowknife, and is also represented by over 1,300 Canadian Rangers across 61 communities.

  • Canada’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, launched in September 2019, provides a strategic vision to guide government policy-making activities and investments over the next decade and beyond. 

  • NORAD is a joint Canada and United States bi-national military command charged with the missions of aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning for the defence of North America. 

  • Canada contributes financial, physical, and human resources to NORAD including:

    • Approximately 1,000 CAF members supporting the NORAD mission throughout North America;
    • Fighter aircraft on alert and air-to-air refueling tankers on high readiness status;
    • The operation and maintenance of the Canadian portion of the North Warning System of radars; and
    • Three Forward Operating Locations in Inuvik, Iqaluit, and Yellowknife to support fighter operations in the North.
  • The 2020-2023 Defence Energy and Environment Strategy has committed the Department of National Defence (DND) to achieving four overarching goals:

    1. Energy efficiency;
    2. Climate change;
    3. Sustainable real property; and
    4. Green procurement.
  • DND and the CAF are undertaking significant efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 2005 levels by 2025 and working toward reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

  • NATO Centres of Excellence (COEs) are international military organizations that are established, run and funded by individual NATO Allies (Framework Nations). NATO COEs train and educate personnel from Allied and Partner countries on specialized topics of relevance to NATO. A Canada-led NATO COE on Climate and Security would be an important vehicle for the Alliance to better understand, adapt to, and address the security implications of climate change. This would be the first NATO COE established in Canada.

Associated links


Daniel Minden
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-3100

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-904-3333

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