A new Arctic needs new rules. As climate change causes the Arctic's ice to melt and new areas to open up, the region is facing unprecedented changes and serious threats.
Governance in the world’s smallest ocean
The Central Arctic Ocean is the world’s smallest ocean and is surrounded by Eurasia and North America. As sea ice declines dramatically, many governments are eager to take advantage of the shipping routes and natural resources available in this vulnerable region.Read more
Why it matters
The ecosystems of the Arctic transcend political boundaries, making collaboration among Arctic states essential. The need to work together is intensified by the sparse population and limited resources of the region.
Who plays a role in the future of the Arctic?
Effective and accountable governanceIt's urgent that we get Arctic high seas governance right now - in advance of change and exploitation from within and outside the region.
©Global Warming Images / WWF
Holding the Arctic Council to a high standardWWF is an observer within the Arctic Council, the primary forum for Arctic issues that cannot be managed by any single country. We’re pushing the Council to implement its decisions and to create a long-term strategic plan.
How we work
WWF has engaged international experts to advise on how the Arctic Ocean might be better regulated, and participates in an Arctic Council Task Force on Marine cooperation.
Finland chairs the Arctic Council from 2016 to 2018. WWF is an official observer at the council, and contributes to the council's work in promoting sustainability, conducting research, and in providing direction to minimize environmental damage from human activities.
WWF is looking at the future management of the "Last Ice Area", the place where summer sea ice is projected to persist longest.
WWF was part of a group that presented the British government with ideas for a set of principles that could govern the work of the UK government, and UK companies in the Arctic.
WWF promotes marine governance in the Arctic that includes cooperation and biodiversity protection within the Arctic Council. WWF-Russia previously participated in negotiations on legally binding agreement on Oil Spill Response, and following its approval, promotes its implementation in Russia.
The Last Ice Area will be essential as an enduring home for ice-dependent life. WWF-Denmark has made a proposal to include the Greenland section of the Last Ice Area on the tentative list for UNESCO world heritage.
Increasing demand for Greenlandic resources means ship traffic is likely to grow significantly over the next few decades. WWF advises on the risks and engages communities and governments in discussions about best practices for shipping and marine spatial planning.
WWF works to prevent and reduce the negative impact of oil, gas and mining on the Arctic environment by pushing companies to strengthen environmental responsibility and by improving the regulatory framework.
WWF is advancing ideas and tools to create more sustainable investment and development in the Arctic.
A model for marine conservation in Canada’s High Arctic: The Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area15 January 2021
Meet the team
ArcNET - an Arctic Ocean Network of Priority Areas for Conservation is an initiative to create a network of marine protection throughout the Arctic Ocean.
The 2019 Arctic Council Conservation Scorecard examines the concrete actions Arctic states are taking to fulfil their responsibilities as the primary stewards of the region.