Shared Arctic leadership model delivers | WWF

Shared Arctic leadership model delivers

Posted on 20 December 2016    
Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) curious young male on the newly frozen pack ice, Beaufort Sea, off the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, North Slope, Alaska
© © / Steven Kazlowski / WWF
In March 2016 US President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau announced “…a new partnership to embrace the opportunities and to confront the challenges in the changing Arctic, with Indigenous and Northern partnerships, and responsible, science-based leadership.” Today, announcements by both governments have delivered on promises made in their joint statement, by taking important actions on conservation, sustainable development, and regulation of industrial activities in the Arctic.

The two leaders have taken action on oil drilling, designating the vast majority of U.S. waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas as indefinitely off limits to offshore oil and gas leasing, and Arctic Canadian waters as indefinitely off limits to future offshore Arctic oil and gas licensing, to be reviewed every five years.
They have also taken action on shipping, launching processes to identify sustainable shipping lanes throughout their connected Arctic waters, and both countries commit to taking actions aimed at using down use of polluting heavy fuel oils in Arctic waters.

They have also committed to several measures aimed at improving the sustainability of Arctic communities, and Canada is also committing to “explore how to support and protect the future of the Arctic Ocean’s “last ice area” where summer ice remains each year.”

““Today the governments of Canada and the United States have taken significant steps toward the protection of the Arctic’s unique ecosystems. As climate change warms the planet and sea ice diminishes, the Last Ice Area will become a refuge for the Arctic’s ice-dependent wildlife, including polar bears, narwhal, seals, walrus, and beluga and bowhead whales. WWF first identified the need to create an Arctic Ice protected area in 2008 and has been working toward protecting this Last Ice Area ever since. We applaud the government’s commitment to work with Inuit to keep this refuge alive for wildlife and communities that depend on them, “said WWF Canada President and CEO David Miller.

WWF US President and CEO Carter Roberts said “This is a remarkable moment of US-Canadian leadership in protecting our shared resources. After years of engagement in the Arctic, President Obama has secured more than 500,000 square kilometres of ocean in one of the most magnificent regions on Earth – home to the culture and tradition of our indigenous communities, as well as walrus, whales, and seascapes unique in all the world. We applaud this bold decision. It underscores our nation's inevitable transition to cleaner energy and signals that some places are just too important not to protect. And with our neighbors, will inspire the world to do likewise.  This action continues a long tradition, starting with Lincoln and Roosevelt, of presidents conserving the best parts of America. This is a big deal – a defining part of our country that’s just as important as Yosemite and Yellowstone.”

Taken together, the announcements advance sustainable development and regulate industrial activity in a significant portion of the Arctic. This will enable Arctic wildlife and communities in the areas concerned to better adapt to an environment experiencing rapid climate-driven change.

For further information, please contact: 
  • (Canada) Megan Nesseth, communications specialist,, +1 416-904-2482
  • (US) Chris Conner  +1 202-495-4786


About WWF
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with almost five million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) curious young male on the newly frozen pack ice, Beaufort Sea, off the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, North Slope, Alaska
© © / Steven Kazlowski / WWF Enlarge

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