Polar bear conservation progress just the tip of the iceberg: WWF scorecard

30 January 2018

Polar bear Governance The Last Ice Area Arctic Climate Change Canada Russia United States Greenland Pan-Arctic Norway Wildlife Barents Sea Beaufort, Bering & Chukchi Seas

A new report by WWF’s Arctic Programme finds that the five countries responsible for the conservation of polar bears need to do more to secure a healthy future for the species.

WWF’s first Polar Bear CAP Scorecard shows that Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States completed 5% of their 10-year plan… just the tip of the iceberg of what needs to be achieved.

The Circumpolar Action Plan for the Conservation of Polar Bears (CAP) began in 2015 to address the threat of climate change to polar bears’ primary habitat – sea ice. Approximately one third of polar bears move across national boundaries. The CAP is the only international mechanism that brings all five Range States together to work on the future survival of polar bears.

Quote from Melanie Lancaster, WWF Arctic Programme’s Senior Specialist, Arctic species and the report’s lead author

“It is imperative that Range States show true leadership and push themselves to achieve their goals by 2025. Industrial development, habitat loss and conflicts with people are all serious and increasing threats to polar bear survival. Range States need to unite to fully implement the CAP so they can learn from one another, combat threats to polar bears and speak with one voice to influence global action on climate change.

Highlights from the Scorecard’s findings:

  • At the current rate of implementation, the Range States will not meet their 10-year target.
  • Range States need to do more to incorporate science and Indigenous traditional knowledge into their decision-making for polar bear management.
  • Range States need to make more information publicly available to increase accountability and understanding of what is being achieved.
  • Range States need to work collectively rather than through individual, parallel actions due to the transboundary nature of polar bear conservation. Polar bears don’t have passports: they roam freely across national boundaries so true circumpolar collaboration is needed to ensure a future for the species.
  • Range States need to start talking about climate change NOW. Under the CAP, Range States have a special responsibility to speak with one voice to global political leaders, policy-makers and the public about the importance of reducing global GHG emissions for the conservation of polar bears.
  • Without urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, scientists predict we will lose a third of the world’s polar bears by 2050 or within three polar bear generations.

About WWF’s 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 governance, climate change, shipping, oil and gas and polar bears.

For more information:
Leanne Clare, Sr. Manager Communications, lclare@wwfcanada.org +1 613-232-2535