When senior officials of the Arctic Council meet in Sweden today to plan for Canada’s upcoming chairmanship, they should chart a progressive course of work that moves this high-level intergovernmental forum from a decision-shaping body to a decision-making one, says conservation organization WWF.
Canada is proposing a pro-development agenda for its chairmanship. WWF emphasizes the need to balance this with environmental protection that recognizes the socioeconomic needs of Arctic Indigenous communities and inhabitants.
“The Arctic Council is now at a critical time in its evolution when its members must show accountability for implementing the recommendations flowing from the wealth of its own scientific assessments” says Alexander Shestakov, Director of WWF’s Global Arctic Programme. “Today, the Arctic officials need to take specific actions and commit to projects that translate into concrete steps for managing the health of Arctic ecosystems and their services.”
At this high-level meeting, the Arctic Council will approve many scientific assessments and a related extensive set of recommendations for policy-makers. The Senior Arctic Officials could take this work further, and propose to extend the mandate of the Arctic Council to include policy-making and implementation of recommendations as an essential part of the upcoming Kiruna Ministerial Declaration in May.
WWF is also urging the Arctic Council to advance spatial management of areas of biological, ecological, and cultural significance and the creation of a pan-Arctic network of areas managed for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem resilience.