United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Longyearbyen on Tuesday night with Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende.
The 18-person delegation landed in a chartered airplane at Svalbard Airport just after 8 p.m., where it was greeted by Gov. Odd Olsen Ingerø and other officials.
The goal of the trip was observing and learning more about climate change before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December.
"This trip is very important," Brende said. "Ban Ki-moon said to me on the plane up here that he wants to use Svalbard as a starting point for a climate campaign."
The polar bears may disappear
The minister emphasized it's important to act quickly in getting a new climate treaty in place.
"Here in Svalbard we are seeing the climate change two to three times faster than in the rest of the world. We're risking, among other things, that polar bears could disappear, so now it comes to establishing support," Brende said before being led into one of the awaiting cars.
Svalbardposten was unable to get a comment from Ban, who went straight from the plane into a waiting car.
Once aboard the Lance research vessel for a voyage to Ny-Ålesund, the delegation received briefings from, among other, scientists and leaders at the Norwegian Polar Institute. The delegation returned to Longyearbyen on Wednesday evening, where they toured the Svalbard Satellite Station to see how the weather-monitoring equipment is operated.
Got a 'unique' experience
Canadian Joey McCullough hoped to meet the U.N. leader during his visit and went to the airport in the hope of getting a glimpse of him there.
When McCullough realized that wasn't going to succeed he started running toward to the dock where the Lance was located, several kilometers away. A woman working at the airport eventually drove by and gave him a ride for the short remaining distance.
"I thought it was a fun opportunity to see him," McCullough said with a laugh. "I'm a little surprised that I'm the only one here, but I did at least take a picture."
Translated by Mark Sabbatini