Meeting today in Washington, President Obama together with leaders of the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland Norway, and Sweden made some important commitments to Arctic conservation. Together these countries make up the majority of the Arctic Council.
In keeping with their recognition of climate change as a key international threat, the leaders committed to extend their influence over policy and finance to promote renewable energy and decrease carbon footprints.
They also made several commitments that were specific to the Arctic.
“We were particularly pleased to see the leaders commit to science-based protection and conservation of ecologically important habitats,” said Alexander Shestakov, Director of WWF’s Global Arctic Programme. “They had already committed to developing a network of marine protection through the Arctic Council, but this adds commitment to conservation of freshwater and land too, and it will take into account ecological resilience.”
The leaders also made commitments to exercising highest standards, best practices and the precautionary approach to new and existing commercial activities in the Arctic, including oil and gas.
WWF looks forward to these commitments being nailed down in national legislation and policy, along with other commitments jointly made through the Arctic Council. We also look forward to the commitments being carried further through the Arctic Council’s work, as Finland and Iceland follow the US as next two chairs on the Council.
Noise pollution from Arctic shipping more than doubled in six years putting whales and other marine life at risk
A new report shows that the amount of underwater noise in parts of the Arctic Ocean has doubled in just six years because of increased shipping traffic. The report was released by the Arctic Council and is the first time scientists have mapped noise pollution from shipping across the region. The results are staggering considering it took oceans in other parts of the world between 30 and 40 years to reach that magnitude of increase.
Dear Einar Gunnarsson: On behalf of WWF’s Arctic Programme, I congratulate the Icelandic Chairmanship on arranging the first-ever SAO Marine Mechanism webinar series. These webinars were an important priority of Iceland’s Chairmanship and in many ways a success. By the same token, I wish to express our concerns about the Mechanism’s substantive focus and continuity.