Canada and US leaders commit to new goals for Arctic protection

Posted on 10 March 2016

Important initiatives to advance conservation
In a joint statement today, the president of the United States and the prime minister of Canada agreed to several initiatives to advance Arctic conservation. The plan includes the establishment of protected areas. Their statement says “…we will work directly with Indigenous partners, state, territorial and provincial governments to establish this year a new, ambitious conservation goal for the Arctic based on the best available climate science and knowledge, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. We will also play a leadership role in engaging all Arctic nations to develop a pan-Arctic marine protection area network.”

“We are impressed by the depth of the commitment to support a strong Arctic future for people and species,” said WWF Canada President and CEO, David Miller. “For too long Arctic communities have not had the support they need to thrive.”

The two national leaders further committed to subjecting any plans for development in the Arctic to stringent environmental and safety standards, and will develop a shared standard for considering the impacts of Arctic development. Specific plans were announced for dealing with risks from Arctic shipping, and for reducing the impacts from oil and gas.

“Today’s agreement unites the US and Canada behind a shared vision to balance smart economic development with protection of the Arctic’s unique and important ecosystems. The agreement rightly sets ambitious conservation principles while explicitly factoring in the effects of climate change and efforts to curb the emissions driving it. This should generate forward progress toward meaningful targets that keep the Arctic intact.” said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF US.

The US and Canadian leaders committed to several initiatives on climate change, including developing a plan to replace costly and polluting diesel power with renewable energy in northern communities.
Changes in the numbers and distributions of food species are deeply alarming to many of these people. Some rely on local foods for subsistence, while to others, these local foods are a vital element of continuing cultural and social traditions. Changes have already been observed in the distribution of Arctic birds and fish, while populations of caribou and reindeer have plunged in some parts of the Arctic.
About 4 million people call the Arctic home.
© WWF / Martin Hartley/