Action on plastic: On track with the regional action plan for the Arctic 22 April 2020Plastics in the ArcticOceanPollutantsRecommendationsIcelandSaami CouncilProtection of the Arctic Marine Environment In October 2019, the Belfer Center’s Arctic Initiative and the Wilson Center’s Polar Institute co-hosted a workshop on Policy and Action on Plastic in the Arctic Ocean with the Icelandic Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The event gathered subject matter experts, thought leaders and diverse stakeholders to discuss the issue of marine plastic pollution in the Arctic. The input from the workshop has now been released in a summary report and a set of recommendations, which will feed into the Council’s Regional Action plan on Marine litter in the Arctic. We asked Magnús Jóhannesson, the Council’s designated Special Coordinator on Plastics Pollution and Marine Litter, and Gunn-Britt Retter, Head of Arctic and Environmental Unit at the Saami Council – who both participated in the workshop – to comment on some of the points that the report raises. Participants of the workshop on Policy and Action on Plastic in the Arctic Ocean (Photo: Benn Craig, Belfer Center) The report lists recommendations for future research in order to fill critical knowledge gaps. Which of these areas are the Council’s Working Groups already working on? Magnús Jóhannesson: The report from the Belfer Center workshop lists a number of research gaps and desirable monitoring measures. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme‘s (AMAP) Litter and Monitoring Expert Group is currently developing a comprehensive monitoring program on marine litter and microplastic for the Arctic region. The program will to some extent address all the issues that were identified during the workshop. In that sense, I can confirm that the Arctic Council is working on the report’s recommendations for research and monitoring on plastic litter in regards to developing the monitoring program. However, the implementation of the monitoring program, for example increasing the sampling frequency and widen the geographical coverage, will depend largely on the funding by the Arctic States.