At the 10th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska in May of 2017, OSPAR was one of seven new Observers admitted by Ministers. Get to know OSPAR and its Arctic connections in the interview below.

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Give us a brief introduction to OSPAR, and tell us a bit about its connection to the Arctic.

OSPAR is the mechanism by which 15 Governments & the EU cooperate to protect the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic. OSPAR started in 1972 with the Oslo Convention against dumping and was broadened to cover land-based sources and the offshore industry by the Paris Convention of 1974. These two conventions were unified, up-dated and extended by the 1992 OSPAR Convention. The new annex on biodiversity and ecosystems was adopted in 1998 to cover non-polluting human activities that can adversely affect the sea. The fifteen Governments are Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom. OSPAR covers five Regions. Region I is the Arctic marine area of OSPAR and constitutes approximately 40% of the OSPAR maritime area.

Why is Observer status an important component of the Arctic “profile” of OSPAR?

As OSPAR Region I is Arctic waters, it has been very important for OSPAR to engage with the Arctic Council to complement the work in the Arctic Council Working Groups and share information, experience and practices. The OSPAR Secretariat has shared the work of OSPAR with the Arctic Council Working Group "Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment" (PAME) and Emergency, Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) Working Group. Representatives from the two Arctic Council Working Groups have been to the OSPAR Offshore Industry Committee and Radioactive Substance Committee to give presentations and share their work.

As you look ahead, what specific ways do you hope to contribute to the work of the Arctic Council?

The Arctic Council Working Groups and OSPAR’s Committees can complement each other by sharing information, data, Best Available Techniques and Best Environmental Practices for protection of the Arctic marine environment. OSPAR can engage with the Arctic Council on the Task Force on Arctic Marine Cooperation and explore the possibilities for cooperation with the Arctic Council on the issues identified in the Arctic Marine Strategic Plan 2015-2025.

(Thanks to Charlotte B. Mogensen, Deputy Secretary at OSPAR, for providing the responses above.)

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Resources and references (Click any link below)

OSPAR website
Arctic Council backgrounder

Finnish Chairmanship information
Images for media use
The Arctic Council on Facebook
The Arctic Council on Twitter
The Arctic Council Working Groups: ACAP, AMAP, CAFF, EPPR, PAME and SDWG.