WWF brings message of thanks to Greenland for polar bear progress
This past December, Greenland and the other countries where polar bears live -- the USA, Canada, Norway and Russia -- signed a declaration to ensure that polar bears will continue to survive in the Arctic.
The declaration took place at a forum in Moscow marking the 40th anniversary of an agreement to strengthen the management of the world's polar bear populations. Over 40,000 people around the world added their voices to a WWF message in the weeks before the forum, thanking these countries for their work, and encouraging them to commit to strong conservation measures.
This week, WWF brought that message of thanks to Jørgen Isak Olsen, Deputy Minister of Greenland's Department of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture.
"We want to show that we are really excited about what Greenland, in cooperation with the other countries, has done and continues to do for polar bears. And we appreciate the intention behind the declaration adopted in Moscow. We need interdisciplinary collaboration if the polar bear is to survive the change the Arctic faces, so this declaration is a significant step toward preserving the species", says Gitte Seeberg, Secretary General of WWF-Denmark.
The sculpture, designed by the artist Mark Coreth, was presented to Deputy Minister Olsen on April 22.
"The polar bear is a global icon loved around the world. For that reason alone it is important to preserve them. But they play of course also a very important role in Greenlandic culture. We're happy to see that these countries have promised to protect these valuable animals", says Seeberg.
The polar bear sculpture is both in appreciation for the Moscow declaration, and a thank you for the first international agreement on the polar bear, which was signed in 1973.
The 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears has helped polar bear populations to rebound over the past four decades, since overharvesting drove their numbers down to unsustainable levels. Today, there are an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 worldwide.
These bears are threatened, however, by the receding sea ice. Some experts predict that the world population could fall by a third in the foreseeable future due to climate change.
"Polar bears are therefore facing major challenges and that is why it is the declaration, and its implementation, are of the utmost importance", says Seeberg.