WWF works with communities throughout the Arctic to help them deal with the effects of climate change, support research, and bring northern stories to a global audience.
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Why it matters
Nowhere on Earth are the immediate effects of climate change felt so intensely. New economic opportunities are coming to the Arctic as oil and gas, shipping, and tourism, while melting permafrost and changes to the patterns of game animals are changing the face of life in the north.
Knowledge comes from many places. In the Arctic, we speak of our work as being “knowledge-based” rather than solely “science-based”. Indigenous peoples of the Arctic have a store of ecological knowledge based on their own observations of the environment, and on information handed down over generations.
WWF encourages the use of this traditional ecological knowledge to inform management policies in the Arctic. We have supported several projects that collect this form of knowledge, helping to provide a more rounded knowledge base.
For thousands of years, Arctic Indigenous peoples have hunted animals for food, clothing, and other essential uses. Hunting is still part of the cultural identity of many northern peoples, and for some, still an essential part of their livelihoods. People still hunt because other foods available to people in northern communities are often less healthy than traditional foods, and too expensive for people to buy.
How we work
WWF's global work to reduce human-wildlife conflict is based in our Netherlands office.
For more than a decade, WWF has worked to stop offshore oil and gas development that threatens the wildlife and local communities that thrive in the Arctic’s often brutal environment.
WWF cooperates with Indigenous Peoples associations and communities to protect the Russian Arctic. In all of our Arctic work, WWF incorporates Indigenous knowledge and expertise.
WWF supported a project to collect rare drone footage of bowhead, one of Canada’s largest and longest-lived marine mammals.
WWF is looking at the future management of the "Last Ice Area", the place where summer sea ice is projected to persist longest.
In the community of Arviat, WWF supports a polar bear patrol and pilot projects with food storage containers, solar-powered electric fencing and diversionary feeding stations.
Since 2015, Greenland’s first polar bear patrol has worked through the polar bear migration season to keep the community of Ittoqqortoormiit safe. Each morning the polar team patrols the community on ATVs, using deterrence measures to frighten bears away. WWF also guides the community and government on improving polar bear safety.
Since 2006, polar bear patrols have been operating with the support of WWF-Russia. The patrols conduct polar bear monitoring and research; and protect villages from polar bears and prevent human - wildlife conflict.
WWF is advocating for renewable energy, and piloting renewable solutions with some Arctic communities.
In Greenland, WWF advocates for sustainable hunting quotas to ensure healthy fish and wildlife populations.
WWF is working with partners to protect Bristol Bay’s unmatched salmon runs and biodiversity through science and advocacy.
WWF addresses conservation of polar bears at the local, national, and international levels. We support community initiatives such as polar bear patrols and contribute to planning and implementing range-wide conservation plans.
Along the northern coast of Alaska, WWF supports several active polar bear patrols and education programs.
Svalbard is a hotspot for polar bear tourism - and conflict. The local government is working with organizations like WWF, scientists and the tourist sector to find the best methods for managing conflict.
Working with northern communities in the Arctic by providing resources and expertise to ensure that community viewpoints on conservation issues are heard in decision-making processes impacting caribou habitat.
WWF is working with Saami to explore ways of reducing future cumulative impacts of different pressures (like mining, wind power, forestry, tourism and large carnivores) on reindeer herding in Sweden.
WWF works with Students on Ice to provide high school students a first hand experience of the effects of climate change in the Arctic.
WWF supports a multi-partner research project with local Inuit communities, fitting satellite radio-transmitters to narwhals to investigate seasonal movements, key staging and wintering habitats, dive depths and diets.
WWF works with Arctic fisheries and fishery management units in the Barents, Bering and Okhotsk seas to promote and support their MSC certification, encourage policy and innovation to introduce ecosystem based management, reduce IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing practices, and to reduce the collateral damage of fisheries bycatch and protect vulnerable bottom habitats.
A model for marine conservation in Canada’s High Arctic: The Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area15 January 2021
Meet the team
The Arctic attracts many people who wish to experience its fantastic wildlife, pristine landscapes and local cultures. No wonder that tourism activities in the region over the last 20 years have experienced an unrivaled growth.
What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. The Arctic is warming faster than any other region on Earth, and the world is already feeling the effects.