Sustainable Development Working Group

Quick facts

Primary Focus:
Advancing sustainable development and improving environmental, economic and social conditions of Indigenous peoples and Arctic communities

Establishment:
1998

Chairmanship 2021-2023
Russian Federation

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About SDWG

SDWG’s work generally falls into thematic areas identified in its Strategic Framework:

  • Economic assessments: Strengthen analysis and joint monitoring of economic trends and activities in the Arctic, including enhancing sustainable and diverse economic development, investments and policies.
  • Educational opportunities: Develop circumpolar networks and harness innovative technologies to build knowledge and develop skills needed to maintain vibrant communities in a changing region.
  • Heritage and culture of Arctic communities: Deepen global understanding of the region’s peoples, cultures, traditional ways of life, languages and values and promote traditional and local knowledge. Sustain and celebrate Indigenous languages, traditional lifeways and practices. Support the identification and promotion of heritage sites and areas of cultural significance in the Arctic.
  • Human health: Exchange information, assessments and innovations that can support public health systems and health service delivery with emphasis on projects that reduce death and disability from environmental risk factors, suicide and high-burden infectious and chronic diseases.
  • Infrastructure: Provide information to inform responsible and sustainable long-term investments in all forms of Arctic infrastructure while taking into account the present needs of communities as well as the changing environment through independent efforts and in coordination with other subsidiary bodies and task forces.
  • Reduction/elimination of inequalities: Strengthen and promote the adoption of sound policies for the elimination of inequalities based on age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status at all levels.
  • Science and research for sustainable development: Facilitate good use of the Arctic region’s research institutions and extensive intellectual resources to benefit sustainable development, including through academic exchanges and joint Arctic research.
  • Sustainable business involvement and development: Explore economic development, including in new and emerging sectors, and evaluate its potential benefits, including job creation and promotion of local culture and products.
  • Sustainable energy: Promote responsible and sustainable management, use and development of energy and resources as well as innovative approaches encouraging renewable energy in even the most remote Arctic communities.
  • Transportation links: Promote the development of sustainable transportation infrastructure and traditional corridors that increase the capabilities for efficient movement of people and goods that have implications for Arctic communities.
  • Water and sanitation services: Strengthen the participation of local communities in improving sustainable water, sanitation and waste disposal management with an eye to the unique engineering challenges and environmental risks that the region faces.

SDWG is led by a Chairmanship that rotates between Arctic Council Member States every two years. Iceland holds the current Chairmanship for SDWG. Arctic States and Permanent Participants participate in the work, and Observers are invited to participate at SDWG meetings. A full list of SDWG projects and reports can be found on SDWG’s website.

2019-2021 Work Plan Snapshot

SDWG’s Work Plan was developed in consideration of the 2017 SDWG Strategic Framework. The goal of the Work Plan is to promote initiatives that:

  • Enhance sustainable development and meaningful understanding in the Arctic region
  • Are applicable and valuable for Arctic communities
  • Are long-term in scope
  • Enhance circumpolar collaboration and engagement of Indigenous and Arctic communities

Two expert groups currently operate under SDWG: the Arctic Human Health Expert Group and the Social, Economic and Cultural Expert Group.

SDWG meets twice a year to discuss priorities and projects identified in the work plan.

Oleg Solyakov
SDWG Chair

Jennifer Spence

Executive Secretary
Email
+1-613-878-1759

Featured projects

Arctic Resilience Action Framework (ARAF)

Advancing a coordinated, regional approach to building resilience and adapting to rapid change.

Arctic Sustainable Energy Futures Toolkit

The project created a comprehensive long-­term energy planning process for socially-­desirable and economically-­feasible energy solutions for communities in the Arctic by developing an Arctic Sustain...

Arctic Remote Energy Networks Academy (ARENA)

Sharing knowledge and establishing professional networks related to energy resources for remote Arctic communities.

Solid Waste Management in Small Arctic Communities

Providing in-person and online resources to address the unique needs of Arctic communities, from planning to implementation of solid waste management practices.

Local 2 Global

Circumpolar collaboration for suicide prevention and mental wellness

Arctic Children: Preschool and School Education

Providing the children of nomadic Indigenous Peoples with knowledge and skills
Photo: Hjalti Hreinsson

Gender Equality in the Arctic

An international collaborative project focusing on gender equality in the Arctic
Photo: iStock / RyersonClark

One Arctic, One Health

A theoretical concept and practical approach for developing and sustaining broad interdisciplinary collaboration – to identify, prevent, and mitigate health risks in humans, animals and the environmen...
USGS / M. Torre Jorgenson

Biosecurity in the Arctic

Supporting public health systems and public services in implementing a quick response to current and future biological threats related to the uncontrolled spread of highly virulent pathogens, parasite...

Arctic Hydrogen Energy Applications and Demonstrations (AHEAD)

Design, construction and development of the year-round Snowflake International Arctic Station (IAS)
Arctic Council logo

Digitalization of the Linguistic and Cultural Heritage of Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic

Preserving and developing Indigenous languages, traditional knowledge and cultures of the Arctic Indigenous peoples including food heritage as a foundation for diversification of local economies and n...
Arctic Council logo

Sustainable Development Goals in the Arctic

Developing tools to apply SDGs in the Arctic
Cod drying. Photo: iStock

Blue Bioeconomy in the Arctic Region

The sustainable and intelligent use of renewable aquatic natural resources, with a focus on improving utilization and creating higher-value products.
Arctic Council logo

Arctic Demography Index

Case studies on demographic change and migration in the Arctic

Indigenous Youth, Food Knowledge and Arctic Change (EALLU) II

Developing a sustainable and resilient reindeer husbandry in the Arctic in face of climate change and globalisation, working towards a vision of creating a better life for circumpolar reindeer herders...
Harald Finkler

Arctic Food Innovation Cluster

Pulling together relevant people in the Arctic foods value chain for a cluster-based approach to food production and regional economic development.
Drone Photography by: Sara Wilde

Project CREATeS

Inviting youth to engage in a dialogue about suicide prevention by telling their own stories, supporting them to make these stories into digital stories, or short films.
iStock

Good Practices for impact assessments and engagement

Providing Arctic-specific recommendations for large-scale projects in the vulnerable and changing Arctic environment, while taking Indigenous peoples and other Arctic inhabitants into account.

@sdwg_chair

  • Pleased to host my first SDWG executive meeting of the Russian Chairmanship. We enjoyed productive discussions. Looking forward to the next 2 years. @ArcticCouncil @sdwgsecretariat https://t.co/ufKmd09rDG June 18 4:16 pm

SDWG News

Yannick Schutz / Arctic Council

Gender equality for a sustainable and prosperous Arctic

Assessing gender issues in the Arctic is a challenging and important step towards gender equality.
10 May 2021
Credit: Hugi Ólafsson

Fish collagen and Senegal flounders

Iceland is leading the way in the blue bioeconomy and initiated a study to explore its potential in the Arctic. While there’s no one-size-fits-all business model, ocean i...
10 May 2021
Participants in CAFF’s youth summit, 2018 Environment Ministers’ meeting  Credit: Ministry of the Environment Finland/Kaisa Sirén

Building the future: An ode to youth and resilience

At the Arctic Frontiers 2021 conference, Joel Clement held the keynote for the “Building the future” panel. His inspirational speech was an ode to empowering youth and bu...
10 May 2021
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Events

June
29 Jun-30 Jun 2021
SAO Executive Online / Moscow
November
23 Nov-25 Nov 2021
SAO Plenary Salekhard, Russian Federation
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