Arctic Council priorities – the next two years
Finland is about to take up the chair of the Arctic Council for the next two years. While Finland will lead the Council’s work, all eight Arctic states and six Arctic Indigenous peoples’ organizations have had input to the council’s priorities over this period.
During the United States chairmanship that is now ending, the world came together to agree on two major global frameworks of importance to the Arctic. The world agreed in Paris to take mitigation actions to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 1.5/2°C above pre-industrial levels. Countries also agreed to Sustainable Development Goals, designed to limit the impacts of development while providing peoples’ needs.
These global agreements set a framework for action, but that framework needs to be filled in on a national and regional basis with concrete actions, and the Arctic Council’s programme over the next two years can supply some of the necessary actions.
As the only circumpolar environmental NGO with observer status at the Arctic Council, WWF believes the Arctic Council member states must take bold new steps to meet the climate and development challenges of a new Arctic.
Biodiverse Arctic Environment
- Develop networks of Arctic specially-managed areas and identify important areas for Arctic biodiversity that cross national borders.
- Negotiate rules to help control activities in international Arctic waters, and harmonize rules for activities in national waters.
- Provide a framework for Arctic marine shipping that considers impacts on ecosystems and develop low impact shipping corridors to minimize adverse impacts.
- Reduce risks associated with heavy fuel oil in Arctic shipping, and work together at the International Maritime Organization to establish and implement a work plan aiming to phase out HFO use in the Arctic by 2020.
- Advance a circumpolar marine environmental risk assessment of cumulative impacts of oil and gas exploration and exploitation, shipping, and commercial fisheries.
Prosperous Arctic Peoples
- Use the Climate Change Paris Agreement to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, and take additional national and regional measures that will help slow Arctic climate change.
- Advance adaptation actions that will help conserve the life on which Arctic peoples depend.
- Study Arctic ocean acidification and its effects on fisheries.
- Secure access to renewable energy for Arctic communities.
Stronger Arctic governance
- Develop a long-term Arctic Council strategy that addresses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
- Put Arctic Council decisions and recommendations into practice.
Arctic Foreign Ministers meeting today did not release a Declaration because they could not agree to collective action on climate change.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted new voluntary measures this week aimed at protecting the Bering Strait and Sea from potentially devastating oil spills due to shipping accidents.