The Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group (EPPR) addresses various aspects of prevention, preparedness and response to environmental emergencies in the Arctic, as well as search and rescue (SAR). While EPPR is not an operational response organization, members of the Working Group exchange information on best practices and conduct projects to include development of guidance and risk assessment methodologies, response exercises, and training. The goal of the EPPR Working Group is to contribute to the protection of the Arctic environment from the threat or impact that may result from an accidental release of pollutants or radionuclides. In addition, the Working Group considers issues related to response to the consequences of natural disasters.
EPPR works with Arctic Council Working Groups and other organizations to ensure that the emergencies are appropriately addressed in Council products and work. EPPR also maintains liaison with the oil industry and other relevant organizations with the aim of enhancing oil spill prevention and preparedness in the Arctic.
EPPR 2015-2017 Work Plan Snapshot
Building on the success of the first functional exercise of the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic (MOSPA), a second international exercise will be conducted in 2016. Linked to the work on oil spill response, the Response Viability Analysis will identify oil spill response assets and readiness available to Arctic countries. Work will continue under the Development of Safely Systems in the Implementation of Economic and Infrastructural Projects which seeks to improve industrial and environmental safety and the Arctic Rescue Project which works to share information from national experiences to improve emergency preparedness. Improving response capabilities of the people who live and work in the Arctic is a key objective of the project Prevention, Preparedness and Response for Small Communities.
In April 2015, EPPR's mandate was expanded to include search and rescue (SAR), acknowledging EPPR's role in planning, executing and reporting of SAR activities linked to the work of the Arctic Council, including follow-up on the SAR Agreement. In December 2015, EPPR decided to establish an Expert Group on SAR to explore ways to incorporate SAR tasks into the work of EPPR.
In October 2015, EPPR took the lead on follow-up and implementation of the Framework Plan for Cooperation on Prevention of Oil Pollution from Petroleum and Maritime Activities in the Marine areas of the Arctic, in cooperation with PAME.
EPPR meets twice a year to discuss priorities and projects identified int he work plan, including new projects within the EPPR mandate. EPPR organizes workshops and exercises and contributes to cross-cutting Arctic Council initiatives. The EPPR Secretariat is permanently housed at the Arctic Council Secretariat in Tromsø, Norway. Dr. Amy Merten (US) is the current Chair of EPPR, supported by two Vice-Chairs from Norway and the Kingdom of Denmark.
Follow EPPR on Twitter at @EPPR_Arctic