© Brutus Ostling / WWF-Canon

Arctic states failing to protect nature from dangers of shipping

29 April 2019

Governance Arctic Climate Change Canada Finland Russia Sweden United States Greenland Pan-Arctic Norway Shipping Ocean

Ottawa, Canada – The cascading impacts of rapid climate change in the Arctic such as ocean acidification, the shrinking of caribou herds and increasing conflict between humans and polar bears will continue unless Arctic states take bold actions to limit the pressures and stressors on the region’s biodiversity finds the latest edition of WWF’s Arctic Council Conservation Scorecard.

States received the worst scores in the regulation of shipping in Arctic waters. States are failing to require ships to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the region and are doing little to monitor shipping traffic to ensure the Arctic’s ecologically important marine areas are protected. All eight member states of the Arctic Council (Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States) are rated in the 2019 edition of the Scorecard.

Dr. Peter Winsor, WWF Arctic Programme director said:
“The Scorecard shows that Arctic states are not fulfilling their roles as the prime stewards of the region. They must do significantly more, both locally and internationally, to protect Arctic biodiversity. Climate change is impacting the Arctic at an alarming rate – warming two-three times faster in the Arctic than the rest of the world. Rapidly declining ice cover is making the area increasingly attractive to shipping and oil and gas companies. Without stronger governance we will continue to see negative impacts on humans and wildlife.“

The Scorecard found that states have performed well in taking the whole ecosystem into consideration when planning activities in the region, but that has not translated into an increasing ability to protect biodiversity through new conservation areas. Many of the areas critical for the future health of wildlife are also culturally and economically significant for the people who call the Arctic home. Arctic states need to work with local communities to find a sustainable path forward.

Lotta Manninen, WWF Arctic Programme, senior specialist governance said:
“The Arctic is home to four million people, including Indigenous Peoples and communities. Arctic states need to recognize that they cannot govern this region sustainably unless they recognize Indigenous Peoples as full partners in the region’s conservation management.

WWF’s 2019 Scorecard examines the concrete actions Arctic states are taking to fulfil their responsibilities as the primary stewards of the region. The success or failure of the Arctic Council depends upon each state’s ability to effectively implement the Council’s recommendations at home. WWF has produced this second Scorecard to shed light on the Council’s ability to deliver good governance, greater environmental protection and sustainability development in the Arctic.

For all the Scorecard’s findings and additional materials, visit panda.org/acscorecard


For further information
Leanne Clare | Sr. Manager Communications, Arctic Programme | lclare@wwfcanada.org

Notes to editors:
The Arctic Council is the primary forum for Arctic issues that cannot be managed by any single country. For more than 20 years, Arctic Council member states have pursued conservation efforts to safeguard the Arctic environment.

The Arctic Council provides direction in the form of ministerial decisions, policy recommendations, guidelines, framework plans and binding agreements. Putting this direction into practice in each country is essential to good Arctic governance, greater environmental protection, and sustainable development in the region.

To encourage more effective, accountable and transparent governance from the Arctic Council WWF created the first Arctic Council Conservation Scorecard in 2017. This is the second edition and coincides with Iceland assuming the chairmanship on May 7.

The 2019 Scorecard examines Arctic Council recommendations of crucial importance to the Arctic environment by focusing on the progress that has bene made by each individual government and highlighting where states need to work harder to fulfil their commitments. The Scorecard was prepared with the assistance of the Ecologic Institute and in consultation with local WWF offices in each Arctic Country, and Arctic governments.

About WWF
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries and territories. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit www.panda.org/news for the latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter: @WWF_media

About WWF Arctic Programme
WWF’s Arctic Programme coordinates WWF's work in the Arctic through offices in seven Arctic countries with experts in circumpolar issues like sustainability, governance, climate change, shipping, oil and gas and wildlife. For more information, visit our website at arcticwwf.org and follow us on Twitter: @WWF_Arctic