How we work
© US Coast Guard

Arctic Governance

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.

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.

2019 Arctic Council Conservation Scorecard

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.

Read more

Who plays a role in the future of the Arctic?

The 8 Arctic nations
Iceland, the Kingdom of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Canada and the United States form the core of the Arctic Council, an international governing body for the region.
Arctic peoples
Over 4 million people live in the Arctic, and their livelihoods are directly tied to its future.
Non-Arctic nations
Countries like Singapore, China and the UK have an interest in Arctic routes and resources, and Arctic warming may impact weather and sea levels around the world.
Shipping, oil and gas, and companies are drawn to the Arctic by the tremendous economic opportunities unveiled by melting ice. Meanwhile, the companies that insure such projects are taking stock of the risks of working in icy waters.
Civil society
WWF and other organizations are working to ensure that increased development is managed responsibly, for the benefit of people, wildlife and habitats.

Our solutions


Effective and accountable governance

It'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
WWF 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.

Holding the Arctic Council to a high standard

WWF 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.

©Arctic Council

How we work

Arctic Ocean regulation

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.

Participating in the Arctic Council

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.

Planning a future for the Last Ice Area

WWF is looking at the future management of the "Last Ice Area", the place where summer sea ice is projected to persist longest.

Promoting good governance

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.

Promoting marine governance in Russia

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.

Protecting the Last Ice Area in Greenland

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.

Reducing shipping impacts in Greenland

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.

Reducing the impact of oil and gas in Russia

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.

Tools for a blue economy

WWF is advancing ideas and tools to create more sustainable investment and development in the Arctic.


The Circle 04.20
The Circle 04.20
12 January 2021
The Circle 03.20
The Circle 03.20
5 October 2020
23 June 2020
The Circle 02.19
The Circle 02.19
13 June 2019
2019 Arctic Council Conservation Scorecard - Overview
2019 Arctic Council Conservation Scorecard - Overview
29 April 2019
2019 Arctic Council Scorecard Country Overviews
2019 Arctic Council Scorecard Country Overviews
29 April 2019
See all 23 publications

Meet the team


Senior Advisor, Arctic and marine


Senior Advisor, Greenland and the Arctic


Advisor, Environmental Law


Specialist, Renewable Energy, Arctic

WWF Arctic Coordinating Team

Senior specialist, governance


Managing Director, WWF-US Arctic Program