Regions and network

UNEPGEFUniversity of Kalmar
Subregion 1: Arctic

  • Major intergovernmental agreements and actors
  • Action programmes, strategies, and research
  • State of the regional environment
  • GEF Projects in the region
  • Other actors and initiatives

    Major intergovernmental agreements and actors

    Arctic Council
    Established in 1996 in Ottawa as a high-level intergovernmental forum to provide a mechanism to address the common concerns and challenges faced by the Arctic governments and the people of the Arctic. The work is focused on the protection of the Arctic environment and sustainable development as a means of improving the economic, social and cultural well-being of the north. See also the Rovaniemi Declaration and other Ministerial Declarations (below). See also the Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council 1996. See also the Iqaluit Declaration 1998; the Alta Declaration 1997 on the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy and SAAO Report 1997 to Ministers for the Fourth Ministerial Conference on the AEPS; the Inuvik Declaration 1996; and the Nuuk Declaration 1993

    Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, OSPAR
    1992 OSPAR Convention replaces the 1972 Oslo Convention and the 1974 Paris Convention, but Decisions, Recommendations and all other agreements adopted under those Conventions will continue to be applicable, unaltered in their legal nature, unless they are terminated by new measures adopted under the new Convention. Executive body of the new 1992 OSPAR Convention is the OSPAR Commission. See OSPAR information on Ministerial meetings, Contracting Parties, Rules of Procedure, Strategies & Action Plan (see below), Meetings and Documents, Publications, the Quality Status Report (see below), etc. At the 1998 Ministerial Meeting of the OSPAR Commission the Ministers adopted the Sintra Statement setting out the political impetus for future action by the OSPAR Commission with a view to ensuring the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic.

    North-East Atlantic Fisheries Convention
    The Convention was adopted in 1959 and entered into force in 1963. The objective of the Convention is to ensure the conservation of the fish stocks and the rational exploitation of the fisheries of the North-East Atlantic Ocean and adjacent waters.
    The origins of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) lie in the former Permanent Commission, founded in 1953 and formed under the 1946 Convention for the Regulation of Meshes of Fishing Nets and the Size Limits of Fish. In the early 1960s it was considered that the Commission needed a wider range of powers to regulate for the effects of the technological advances in fishing methods. In 1963 the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) was formed under the North East Atlantic Fisheries Convention to succeed the Permanent Commission. In addition to the powers of the Permanent Commission, NEAFC could also establish closed fishing areas and seasons, and regulate catch and fishing effort.

    Rovaniemi Declaration on the Protection of the Arctic Environment
    With the Rovianiemi Declaration 1991, the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) was established (see below). Five programmes AMAP, CAFF, EPPR, PAME and Sustainable Development have been established under the AEPS.

    UN Economic Commission for Europe, ECE
    The Environment and Human Settlements Division is part of the secretariat of the UN ECE. It brings together economists, scientists, urban planners and other experts, and organizes the regular intergovernmental meetings of the Committee on Environmental Policy, the Executive Body for the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes and the Committee on Human Settlements. At these meetings, government representatives from Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel address environmental and human settlements issues, such as environmental impact assessment, air and water pollution, urban renewal or land registration.


    Action programmes, strategies and research

    Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS)
    Established in 1991 with the objectives:
    - to protect the Arctic ecosystems, including humans;
    - to provide for the protection, enhancement and restoration of environmental quality and sustainable utilization of natural resources, including their use by local populations and indigenous peoples in the Arctic;
    - to recognize and, to the extent possible, seek to accommodate the traditional and cultural needs, values and practises of indigenous peoples as determined by themselves, related to the protection of the Arctic environment;
    - to review regularly the state of the Arctic environment; to identify, reduce and, as a final goal, eliminate pollution.

    The five programmes established under the AEPS are:

    • Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP)
      An international organization established to implement components of the AEPS. AMAP has responsibilities to monitor the levels of, and assess the effects of, anthropogenic pollutants in all compartments of the Arctic environment, including humans. AMAP is now a programme group of the Arctic Council, and its current objective is "providing reliable and sufficient information on the status of, and threats to, the Arctic environment, and providing scientific advice on actions to be taken in order to support Arctic governments in their efforts to take remedial and preventive actions relating to contaminants". Here one finds information on the State of the Arctic Environment Report (see below), as well as inforamtion on AMAP programmes and projects, publications, maps, news and announcements, a directory (with Arctic links) and much more
    • Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)
      The Program for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, under the AEPS, was established to address the special needs of Arctic species and their habitats in the rapidly developing Arctic region. CAFF has responsibilities to facilitate the exchange of information and coordination of research on species and habitats of Arctic flora and fauna.
    • Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response
      See Arctic Council EPPR info
    • Regional Programme of Action for the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment from Land-Based activities (RPA)
      Adopted in 1998 by the Arctic Council.
    • Sustainable Development
      The Working Group on Sustainable Development (SDWG) was established by Arctic Ministers in 1998. The objective is to protect and enhance the economies, culture and health of the inhabitants of the Arctic, in an environmentally sustainable manner.
    UNEP Regional Seas Programme
    The Regional Seas Programme was initiated in 1974 as a global programme implemented through regional components. The Regional Seas Programme is UNEP's main framework in the field of the coastal and marine environment. It includes 14 regions and three partner seas, involves more than 140 coastal states, and focuses on sustainable development of coastal and marine areas. Each regional action plan is formulated according to the needs and priorities of the region as perceived by the Governments concerned. Regional conventions are in place for several areas. See a map of all regional seas, and go to more information on the Black Sea, Wider Caribbean, Mediterranean, East Asian Seas, South Asian Seas, Eastern Africa, Kuwait Region, North West Pacific, Red Sea And Gulf of Aden, South East Pacific, North East Pacific, South Pacific, Upper South West Atlantic, and West and Central Africa. The UNEP Regional Seas web site also contains information on What's at stake, Major threats, and Actions.


    Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA)
    An international project organized under the auspices of the Arctic Council to evaluate and synthesize knowledge on climate variability, climate change, and increased ultraviolet radiation and their consequences.

    Arctic Environmental Impact Assessment (ARIA)
    The purpose of the project is to develop Guidelines for EIA in the Arctic. A circumpolar ad hoc group, whose task was to evaluate a proposal for an electronic information system supporting arctic EIAs, has recommended that an electronic network on the WWW should be established.

    International Arctic Science Committee, IASC
    IASC is a non-governmental organisation to encourage and facilitate co-operation in all aspects of Arctic research, in all countries engaged in Arctic research and in all areas of the Arctic region. The IASC member organisations are national science organisations covering all fields of Arctic research.

    State of the regional environment

    AMAP's Assessment: State of the Environment Report
    During its inital phase of operation (1991-1996), AMAP designed and implemented a monitoring programme and conducted its first assessment of the State of the Arctic Environment with respect to pollution issues. A special group (the AMAP Assessment Steering Group) was established to oversee the preparation of the AMAP Assessment, which is based on input from several hundreds of scientific experts. Two Assessment reports were produced to present the results of the AMAP assessment firstly to decision makers and the general public (the SOAER; full text), and secondly to fully document the scientific basis for the assessment (the AAR). This first AMAP Assessment was presented in 1997.

    GEO 2000 State of the Environment: Arctic
    Global Environment Outlook 2000. GEO is:

    • a global environmental assessment process, the GEO Process, that is cross-sectoral and participatory. It incorporates regional views and perceptions, and builds consensus on priority issues and actions through dialogue among policy-makers and scientists at regional and global levels.
    • GEO outputs, in printed and electronic formats, including the GEO Report series. This series makes periodic reviews of the state of the world's environment, and provides guidance for decision-making processes such as the formulation of environmental policies, action planning and resource allocation. Other outputs include technical reports, a web site and a publication for young people.

    OSPAR Quality Status Reports, QSR
    Chapter 6 Overall Assessment is now available online. The final QSR will also include Regional QSR. Executive summaries of these chapters Arctic Waters, the Greater North Sea, the Celtic Seas, Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast, and the Wider Atlanticare are also available.

    State of the European Arctic Environment
    This report by the European Environment Agency gives a brief overview of the environmental situation in the European Arctic. It presents the main environmental challenges for the region, and recommendations for policies and management.

    State of Protected Areas in the Circumpolar Arctic, 1994
    See also the full list of CAFF documents available on the web.


    GEF Projects in the region

    Project concepts in the pipeline

    An Integrated Ecosystem Approach to Enhance Biodiversity Conservation and Minimize Habitat Fragmentation in the Russian Arctic

    UNEP-GEF-International Waters:
    Support to the National Plan of Action in the Russian Federation for the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment from Anthropogenic Pollution
    The project will focus on pre-investment studies of identified priority hot spots with known significant transboundary consequences. Additional activities will include the necessary support in the development of legal, institutional and economic measures.


    Other actors, initiatives and resources


  • Global International Waters Assessment, GIWA
    SE- 391 82 Kalmar, Sweden
    Phone: +46- 480 44 60 00. Fax: +46- 480 44 73 55.

    page last modified on 22 August 2006