Wildland fire in Russian Federation
Wildland fire in Russian Federation
© iStock

Norwegian Chairship Wildland Fires Initiative

The Norwegian Chairship Wildland Fires Initiative seeks to elevate Arctic wildland fires as an urgent climate change issue on the Arctic Council’s agenda, and beyond, to increase circumpolar collaboration, knowledge sharing, and partnership.

What is the Chairship Wildland Fires Initiative?

By establishing a Wildland Fires Initiative (WFI), the Norwegian Chairship seeks to draw attention to, and foster better understanding of, the causes and impacts of wildland fires on Arctic ecosystems and communities, while offering a contribution to our climate’s future. It seeks to increase circumpolar collaboration, knowledge sharing and partnership on wildland fires to tackle this urgent climate issue. By pooling together the collective expertise, experiences and resources on wildland fires from the Arctic Council, and by partnering with other wildland fire activities and projects led by external partners, the WFI seeks to make information on wildland fires in the Arctic more accessible through public panels, outreach campaigns and other communicative efforts that will span across the Norwegian Chairship term.


The WFI will call upon the expertise from Arctic Council Working Group and Expert Group activities and programs, Indigenous Knowledge and Local Knowledge holders, as well as valuable perspectives coming from the Council’s Observer states and international organizations, as well as other relevant partners.

"Wildland fire has gone from being an effect of global climate change to a driver of it. It intersects with human, environmental, and animal health." Edward Alexander GCI Co-Chair

What does the initiative aim to achieve?

This Chairship initiative seeks to elevate – not duplicate – the ongoing work in all of the Arctic Council's Working Groups and its Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane on wildland fires by providing updated information on current work and findings, and future activities or plans, on wildland fires. Aligned with the Arctic Council’s Strategic Plan, the overall objective of the WFI is to raise the urgency of this issue both within the Arctic Council and in broader contexts by:

  1. Identifying knowledge gaps and best practices, including issues that require attention of the Arctic Council and potential actions to enhance cross-cutting research and sustain multilateral cooperation;
  2. Enhancing knowledge generation and sharing across and beyond the Council; and,
  3. Improving overall understanding and awareness of wildland fires from an Arctic and climate change perspective.

Although there has been a rise in discussions on wildland fires at the Arctic Council-level concerning in recent years, Norway saw room to improve the sharing of knowledge about wildland fires both within and beyond the Arctic Council. The WFI therefore aims to play a role in addressing this need by building on previous communicative efforts initiated through the Arctic Wildland Fire Sharing Circle of 2021, but also finds inspiration on past Chairmanship initiatives aimed at drawing attention to specific Arctic Council work, e.g., plastics pollution, Covid-19 in the Arctic, and Arctic marine cooperation. The WFI aims to emphasize the ongoing initiatives spearheaded by the Working Groups focusing on wildland fires and to enhance the accessibility of this information. It aims to bring attention to these projects and others as they hold particular significance in the face of the climate crisis and the escalating challenges wildland fires represent – and will continue to represent – in the Arctic region.

"Under Norway’s leadership, we want to ensure that our attention is turned towards better understanding the causes and impacts of wildland fires on Arctic ecosystems and communities. It is important to the Arctic States – and the rest of the world – to find solutions. We regard this as an important offering for our climate’s future." Morten Høglund

Planned outcomes

The WFI seeks to elevate – not duplicate – the ongoing work in all Working Groups and the Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane on wildland fires by providing updated information on current work and findings, and future activities or plans, on wildland fires. Through different processes, the WFI aims to accomplish four outcomes:

  1. Arctic Council Compendium on Arctic Wildland Fires: The WFI will develop an electronic compendium on Arctic Council wildland fires projects and deliverables, including related communications materials.
  2. Discussion series at international conferences and fora: The WFI discussion series is set to showcase Arctic Council work and expert speakers from Arctic states, Permanent Participants, and Observers will be joining panel discussions on wildland fires in selected international conferences and fora in 2024 and 2025.
  3. Summary Report on WFI for Senior Arctic Officials (SAOs): The Norwegian Chairship will prepare a report that will consist of a comprehensive summary of all the work and activities undertaken throughout the implementation period of the WFI, will report on achievements and provide some key findings and considerations for the Arctic Council.
  4. Communications outreach campaign: The outreach campaign will include a podcast mini-series and ongoing outreach efforts, including regular articles, interviews, and stories.
Morten Høglund
Morten Høglund
SAO Chair and Co-Lead WFI

Edward Alexander
Co-Chair GCI and
Co-Lead WFI

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Norwegian Chairship Launches Initiative to Address Wildland Fires in the Arctic

The Chairship Wildland Fires Initiative aims to increase circumpolar collaboration, knowledge sharing and partnership on wildland fires to tackle this urgent climate issu...
19 Oct 2023
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