Regions and network

UNEPGEFUniversity of Kalmar
Region 11: Barents Sea

The Barents Sea Regional Report »

Focal Point Co-ordinator
Professor Gennady G. Matishov
Academian Russian Academy of Science
Murmansk Marine Biological Institute
Vladimirskaya 17, 183010 Murmansk, Russia
Tel: (8152) 56-52-35
Fax (Norwegian line): 47-789-10-288
Professor Gennady G Matishov
Prof. Martin Khublarian

  • 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

    Barents Euro-Arctic Council

    • The Barents Euro-Arctic Council is the highl-level political body (Foreign Ministers) for co-operation between Finland, Norway, Russian and Sweden (and also Denmark, Iceland and the EU Commission) in the Barents Region. There are three permanent working groups within the Council: a Task Force on the Environment, a Working Group on Economic Co-operation, and a Working Group on the Northern Sea Route. See also the Communiqué of the Sixth Session of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, 1999 and the Declaration and Communiqué of the Fifth Session of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, 1998.
    • The Barents Regional Council has been established for co-operation at the regional-province level. Each county-province-oblast participating is represented on the Council, and so is a representative of the indigenous people. The Regional Council is in charge of the work carried out within the 10 working groups. Most of the practical co-operation in the region is done within the Barents Programme, drawn up within the Regional Council and updated annually. The Regional Committee is functioning as the executive committee to the Regional Council.

    Kirkenes Declaration, 1993
    The Barents Euro-Arctic Region was established as an area of joint cooperation in 1993 through the Kirkenes Declaration. The co-operation was based on the already ongoing North Calotte co-operation of the Nordic countries, beginning in the 1960's. Major political bodies and forms of regional cooperation are the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and the Barents Regional Council. See also the Kirkenes Declaration at the Barents Secretariat web site. Regional work in the Barents region is based on a corresponding Declaration of Intent signed by the counties, or the equivalent, in the region and a representative of the indigenous people. This co-operation is mainly aiming at supporting the process of transition in the Russian part of the Barents region. It concerns, in particular, public institutions, market economy and environmental efforts.

    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

    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.

    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.

    Convention for the Conservation of Salmon in the North Atlantic Ocean
    The objective of the Convention, adopted in 1982 and in force in 1983, is to prohibit fishing of salmon beyond areas of fisheries jurisdiction of coastal state, and also to prohibit fishing of salmon beyond 12 nautical miles from the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured except within the area of fisheries jurisdiction of the Faroe Islands and in the West Greenland area. See also NASCO Council Resolutions
    . The Convention establishes the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization, NASCO. The objective of NASCO is to contribute through consultation and cooperation to the conservation, restoration, enhancement and rational management of salmon stocks subject to the Convention taking into account the best scientific evidence available to it. Regional commissions of NASCO are the North American Commission, the North-East Atlantic Commission, and the West Greenland Commission.

    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.

    Financial institutions

    European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, EBRD
    The bank finances projects in three country groups (Central Europe; Russia and Central Asia; Southern and Eastern Europe and the Caucasus) and three s
    ectors: Financial Institutions; Infrastructure; and Industry and Commerce. The infrastructure group of projects contains four issues: Municipal and environmental infrastructure; Transport; Power and energy utilities; and Energy efficiency. The EBRD is directed by its Agreement to "promote in the full range of its activities environmentally sound and sustainable development", thereby being the first international financial institution to have been given such a proactive environmental mandate by its founders.

    European Investment Bank, EIB
    The European Union's financing and long-term lending institution. The EIB is mandated to conduct operations in: the Central and Eastern European Countries and certain Mediterranean Countries which have applied for membership of the EU; the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Countries; the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP), South Africa and the OCT; Asia and Latin America; the Western Balkans. Within the European Union, projects considered for EIB financing must contribute to a number of set objectives, including the preservation of the natural and urban environment. Outside the Union, the Bank participates in implementing the Union's development aid and cooperation policies through long-term loans from own resources or subordinated loans and risk capital from EU or Member States' budgetary funds.

    Nordic Environment Finance Corporation, NEFCO
    NEFCO is a risk capital institution financing environmental projects in Central and Eastern Europe. Established in 1990 by the five Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), its purpose is to facilitate the implementation of environmentally beneficial projects in the neighbouring region, with transboundary effects which also benefit the Nordic region. Projects should be financially viable and, in the first instance, based on cooperation between local and Nordic enterprises. NEFCO is working with four major project categories: 1) Modernization of industrial and energy production processes; investments in single production plants. 2) Production of equipment for pollution abatement, metering, improved energy efficiency etc.; projects establishing or investing in enterprises for such production.3) Environmental services such as waste management, recycling, water and waste water treatment (in public-private cooperation); corporatised service enterprises. 4) Planning and consulting services; consulting and engineering firms. See NEFCO's project portfolio and environmental guidelines. See also Barents Region Environmental Programme: Proposals for environmentally sound investment projects in the Russian part of the Barents Region: Background and recommended projects (prepared by the AMAP Expert Group).

    Nordic Investment Bank , NIB
    The Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) is the joint international financial institution of the Nordic countries. NIB can help to finance projects both within and outside the Nordic area. The Baltic Sea and Barent Sea regions are priority areas for the bank's operations. NIB acts as a catalyst for Nordic industrial co-operation by financing new investments, infrastructure projects and structural improvements, particularly cross-border investments. NIB participates in the financing of environmental improvement investments in the Nordic countries and in the Baltic Sea and Barent Sea regions. See information on the bank's environmental procedures.


    Action programmes, strategies and research

    Barents Region Environment Action Programme
    Adopted in June 1994 by the Barents Environment Ministers at their First Barents Environment Council Meeting. See also the Declarations of Barents Region Environment Ministers:

    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 (EPPR)
      Established as an experts forum to evaluate the adequacy of existing arrangements and to recommend the necessary system of cooperation. Has responsibilities to provide a framework for future cooperation in responding to the threat of Arctic environmental emergencies. See also Arctic Council EPPR info
    • Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME)
      PAME ddresses policy and non-emergency response measures related to protection of the marine environment from land and sea-based activities. PAME has responsibilities to take preventative and other measures, directly or through competent international organizations, regarding marine pollution in the Arctic, irrespective of origin. See also the 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.

    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.

    The Barents Sea Impact Study (BASIS) is a Global Change research project developed under the auspices of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC). After a planning phase of five years (1992-1996), a research proposal was submitted in 1997 to the IV Framework Environment and Climate Programme of the European Commission. This proposal was accepted and has received funding for an initial period of two years (1998-1999).

    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.

    Barents GIT, National Land Survey of Finland
    GIT means General Information of Geographic Information Technology within the Barents Region. The overall objective of the project is to "produce homogeneous geographic information that can be used for planning and decision-making concerning the environment, land use, natural resources, industry, trade and tourism and transport in the Barents Region. It will also be an important information source for educational institutions at all levels and for all who require a complete and comprehensive picture of and data about the Barents Region. A further intermediate objective for the project is to create an infrastructure for the storage and exchange of geographic information in the Barents Region".

    Norwegian Polar Institute
    The Institute deals with scientific investigations in the fields of biology, geophysics, geology, and polar history, organized in six programmes. The research is aimed at contributing to the Norwegian management of the polar areas, in accordance with international agreements for a sustainable development. Examples of research projects: Ecophysiological studies of the Arctic fox; Environmental studies on glaucous gulls; Ice core studies on Svalbard; Spreading of fresh water in the Kara Sea.

    State of the regional environment

    "Barentswatch 1998" provides extensive and current information on the state of the environment and natural resources of the Barents Region. Barentswatch 1998 was published by Svanhovd Environmental Centre in Norway in co-operation with the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management, the Norwegian Polar Institute, and GRID-Arendal. The publication is available in English, Russian and Norwegian.

    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.

    Major environmental challenges and environmental problems
    Summary of environmental problems and challenges in the region, compiled by Finnish Ministry of Trade and Industry and Finnish Ministry of Environment for the Barentsinfo database.

    Progress Report on Barents Region Environmental Hot Spots
    A report prepared 1998 by the Nordic Environment Finance Co-operation, NEFCO, as a summary of measures taken in the region since 1995. See also map (NEFCO) of hot spots in NW Russia and map (Jointl) of NEFCO environmentally sound investment projects .

    GEO 2000 State of the Environment: Europe and Central Asia

    Global Enviroment 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.

    GEF Projects in the region

    Project concepts in the pipeline

    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.

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


    Other actors and initiatives

    European Union and the Northern Dimension

    European Commission Report on the Northern Dimension, November 1998

    Conclusions of the Foreign Ministers Conference on the Northern Dimension, November 1999.

    EU programmes in support of development and border region co-operation in the Barents/Arctic area.

    The Tacis Programme is a European Union initiative to provide grant-financed technical assistance to support the process of transition to market economies and democratic societies in the partner countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Priorities are greater concentration of the assistance to achieve maximum impact, and support for the objectives of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCAs)

    EU and the Barents Region
    A document, available also in Russian, published on the EU Tacis site about "the European Union and its neighbours in the North-East". Contains general information about the Barents Region; relations between the EU and the Russian Federation and Norway, respectively; regional co-operation in the Barents region; the scope of EU involvement in the Barents Region; and EU support in the Barents Region through structural funds (Regional Development Fund, Social Fund, and Agricultural Guarantee and Guidance Fund) and the Tacis programme.

    Other actors

    Barents Secretariat
    The Secretariat is maintained by the three Norwegian provinces Nordland, Troms and Finnmark. Its main tasks are to co-ordinate national priorities and goals within the Barents co-operation; provide a resource centre in the handling of projects; conduct information activities and establish contacts to enhance the general knowledge and understanding of the Barents Region; make regional activities known and accepted. See the Barents Programme which is "the Regional Council's programme for concretising how to achieve the overall goals set up for the regional work and supporting the ongoing changes in the Russian part.

    Svanhovd Environment Center
    Information (unfortunately, only in Norwegian) about the Centre which has the threefold task of being a meeting place, a research basis in the North, and a centre for documentation and information about the Barents Region and the Arctic.

    The Barents Sea - a Large Marine Ecosystem (LME)
    A Large Marine Ecosystem, LME, is a "region of ocean space encompassing coastal areas from river basins and estuaries to the seaward boundary of continental shelves and the seaward margins of coastal current systems. It is a relatively large region characterized by distinct bathymetry, hydrography, productivity, and trophically dependent populations." See also Rhode Island University map of LMEs.


  • 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