Arctic Contaminants Action Program - ACAP’s Green Meeting Policy
13 March 2020
ACAP has recently decided to “green” its meetings.

The Arctic Council’s Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) Working Group encourages nations to strengthen policies and take actions to reduce releases of pollutants, including plastic and short-lived climate pollutants, and mitigate associated environmental, health and socio-economic risks. To practice what it preaches, ACAP has recently decided to “green” its meetings.

To reduce its carbon footprint and improve its efficiency, ACAP agreed, when possible, to reduce its face-to-face meetings to once a year, and to hold all other meetings by teleconference. Three such teleconference meetings have been held under the current Norwegian chairmanship of ACAP, all of which worked efficiently, even with a time difference of 14 hours between Taimyr (Russian Federation) and Anchorage (Alaska). The first ACAP meeting in 2020 was held via teleconference on 11-12 February 2020 for two, three to four hour-long calls. Representatives of all eight Arctic States, three Permanent Participants (Aleut International Association, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North and Saami Council), one Observer organization (Nordic Environment Finance Corporation) and the Arctic Council Secretariat took part in the online ACAP meeting. With the support of the Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat, ACAP managed to arrange translation from English into Russian and vice versa for the participants who do not speak English.

When face-to-face meetings do occur, ACAP always welcomes requests for remote participation. Following the Arctic Council’s meeting policy, ACAP tries to make its meetings as paperless as possible by encouraging participants to bring their materials in an electronic form and providing sustainable meeting services, such as double-sided printing when paper is unavoidable, and recycling bins. To avoid generation of plastic waste, ACAP asks caterers to use non-disposable tableware and to serve either tap water in jugs or water in glass bottles.

While trying to make its meetings climate neutral and reduce its environmental impact, the Working Group also strives to be socially conscious by arranging back-to-back workshops that engage local researchers and representatives of local Indigenous communities and foster cooperation. For example, prior to its latest face-to-face meeting in Tromsø in September 2019, ACAP arranged two back-to-back workshops. The first with experts that work in the Fram Centre – High North Research Centre for Climate and the Environment – and other experts living in Tromsø to discuss topics relevant to the ACAP mandate. The second was devoted to the Circumpolar Local Environmental Observer Network (CLEO) project, and was attended by teachers and students of the Saami High School and Reindeer Herding School (Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino, Norway).

If you want to know more about green meetings or you plan to make your meetings more sustainable, you can draw inspiration from the Green Meeting Guidelines. Developed and tested during Finland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2017–2019, the guidelines proved to be easy to implement and effective.