Press Room

News Releases

  • Together towards a sustainable Arctic in Hveragerði

    First Senior Arctic Officials’ plenary meeting during Iceland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council places emphasis on people and communities

    On 20-21 November 2019, the Arctic Council will gather in Hveragerði, Iceland, for the first Senior Arctic Officials’ plenary meeting during the Chairmanship of Iceland (2019-2021). The meeting will focus on work related to People and Communities of the Arctic. Iceland puts an emphasis on cooperation between all entities of the Council – reflecting the Chairmanship’s overarching theme: Together towards a sustainable Arctic.

  • Arctic Crossroads

    Editorial by Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials


    Reflecting back on the first ever joint meeting of the Arctic Economic Council and the Arctic Council earlier this month I can honestly say it left a mark on me. It left me feeling inspired to do more. And I think that was the general mood of the meeting: An appetite for more. For more dialogue, more understanding, more collaboration. And that inspires optimism and a feeling that we are on to something. Something new, exciting and, what is most important: Something sensible.

  • The Arctic Blue Bioeconomy – A driver for growth

    Sustainable use and increasing the value of goods produced from biological aquatic resources plays an important role for driving sustainable economic growth in the Artic - particularly for development in coastal and rural communities. This is what we call the blue bioeconomy. Put simply, it is about sustainably maximising the value and use of aquatic bioresources, producing food, feed, bio-products and bioenergy. The main drivers behind the development of the blue bioeconomy are research and development, innovation and knowledge transfer.

  • Gender Equality in the Arctic

    Gender Equality in the Arctic (GEA) is a project of the Arctic Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG). The project focuses on gender equality with an emphasis on diversity in terms of discourses, Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, governance, education, economies, and social realities. The GEA project strives to contribute to sustainability and balanced participation in leadership and decision making both in the public and private sectors.

  • Arctic Council to host side event at the 2019 Our Ocean Conference

    The Arctic Council will host a side event at this year’s Our Ocean conference in Oslo on 23 October. The side event is themed “A Cleaner Arctic Marine Environment – Battling Marine Debris in the Arctic” and is organized jointly with the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs and two of the Council’s Working Groups: the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme and the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group.

  • First joint meeting between the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council

    The Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council hold their first joint meeting in Reykjavik today, 9 October 2019, bringing together government representatives of the eight Arctic States, business representatives, as well as representatives of the indigenous Permanent Participants, and the Councils’ respective Working Groups. The meeting is a step towards enhancing cooperation and collaboration between the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council, as outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding the secretariats of both Councils signed last May. The discussions in Reykjavik will focus on subject areas of common interest, such as marine transportation and blue economy, telecommunications connectivity, responsible resource development and mainstreaming biodiversity, as well as on responsible investments and corporate social responsibility.

  • Arctic Circle Assembly: Arctic Council Working Groups’ and Permanent Participants’ panels, breakout sessions and events

    Several Arctic Council Working Groups and Indigenous peoples organizations holding Permanent Participant status in the Council are hosting side events at this year’s Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik. See an overview below.

  • Building knowledge and confidence in the Arctic

    Editorial by Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials


    As we learn more about the challenges we face in the Arctic, it becomes clearer by the day that collaboration with partners outside the region is needed in order to effectively tackle them. What is more, non-Arctic states around the globe are waking up to the fact that what happens in and to the Arctic has direct and widespread effects on them.

  • Planning for a greener Arctic future

    The Arctic Community Energy Planning and Implementation Toolkit

    Arctic winters tend to be long and, in many places, extremely cold. Energy use in Arctic communities therefore can be very high, making reliable and affordable electricity and heating a priority. Today, many Arctic communities rely almost exclusively on fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation. These fuels can come from local sources or be shipped in by land, sea, or air – and those transportation methods bring still more challenges and costs. Thus, there is a growing need, desire, and opportunity for communities to develop clean energy projects.

  • Increased warming pushing Arctic freshwater ecosystems to the brink

    The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Working Group has released the first circumpolar assessment of freshwater biodiversity across the Arctic. The State of the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Report, which was presented to Ministers at the Rovaniemi Ministerial meeting in May 2019, provides a synthesis of the state of knowledge about biodiversity in Arctic freshwater ecosystems (e.g., lakes, rivers, and associated wetlands). It finds that Arctic lakes and rivers are losing the ability to sustain their current level and diversity of Arctic freshwater species.

  • A closer look at sea ice: An interview with AMAP expert Sebastian Gerland

    Sebastian Gerland is a geophysicist at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø. As a specialist for sea ice and climate, he has contributed to several projects and reports of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). In this interview, Sebastian speaks about the shrinking Arctic sea ice cover and why its important to not just look at the annual minimum extent to understand trends and effects of a changing Arctic.

  • PAME releases first ‘plastic in a bottle’

    The Arctic Council’s Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) Working Group launched the first bottle equipped with a GPS transmitter into the Atlantic on 12 September 2019. Called “plastic in a bottle”, the capsule will simulate how marine litter and plastics travel far distances into and out of Arctic waters. The collected data will serve as an outreach tool to create awareness around the growing concerns on marine litter in the Arctic. This first plastic in a bottle was sent off from the Reykjanes peninsula by Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Iceland’s Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources from the Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Thor in conjunction with the PAME Working Group meeting in Reykjavík. Iceland currently holds the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council until 2021 and places a special focus on marine litter and plastics in the Arctic.

  • A source for Arctic optimism: The Blue Bioeconomy

    Editorial by Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials


    The blue bioeconomy is and will be a major contributor to achieving sustainable development in the Arctic and beyond. The term “blue bioeconomy” refers to innovation potentials in utilizing and creating new marine products with the help of new unconventional processing methods. It is therefore also one of today’s main sources for great optimism for our region, especially given the Arctic Council’s specific focus on sustainable development and environmental protection.

  • Put into reality: EPPR looks into the VIKING SKY incident

    At its first Working Group meeting during the Icelandic Chairmanship, the Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) Working Group held a workshop on the VIKING SKY incident – a cruise liner that got into distress off the Southern Norwegian coast. Authorities involved in the rescue operation in March 2019 shared their experiences and lessons learned with EPPR delegates. Quickly the questions arose: How would this incident have played out in the high Arctic?

  • Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative: a global partnership for Arctic-breeding migratory birds

    At the most recent Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting (Rovaniemi, 6-7 May 2019), the Ministers of the Arctic States approved the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna’s (CAFF) Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) Work Plan 2019-2023. This ambitious plan provides the strategic framework and guidance for cooperation to conserve populations of Arctic breeding migratory birds experiencing alarming population decline.

  • Wildfires don’t respect territorial boundary lines

    The Arctic is experiencing its worst wildfire season on record, affecting the environment and communities in the circumpolar North and beyond. Amongst the most affected are people in the Gwich’in territories in Alaska. They face a future of intensified wildfire seasons – and call upon the Arctic States to collaborate on both mitigation and emergency response measures. Edward Alexander is a member of the Gwich’in Council International (GCI), and in this interview he speaks about the impacts of wildfires and the projects GCI has submitted to Arctic Council Working Groups.

  • Interview with Magnús Jóhannesson, the Special Coordinator on Plastics

    Magnús Jóhannesson is the Council’s designated special coordinator on plastics, marine litter. In this interview, the former Director of the Arctic Council Secretariat speaks about the plastics issue in the Arctic, the Arctic Council’s efforts to tackle the issue and his new role within the Icelandic Chairmanship team.

  • New Observer: The International Maritime Organization

    The International Maritime Organization (IMO) was granted Arctic Council Observer status at the 11th Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland, in May 2019. IMO is the United Nations specialized agency responsible for safety and security of shipping and prevention of marine pollution by ships. Its Observer status, the organization states, “will allow IMO to build on the existing cooperation with the Arctic Council and to engage in close collaboration on a range of issues related to shipping in the Arctic”.

  • Interview with CAFF Chair Mark Marissink

    Since May 2019, Mark Marissink chairs the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF). He is the deputy director at the department for Environmental Analysis at the Swedish Environment Protection Agency and has been involved in the work of CAFF for several years. Learn more about Mark Marissink’s background and his ambitions as the Working Group’s new Chair.

  • Interview with SDWG Chair Stefán Skjaldarson

    Stefán Skjaldarson is the new Chair of the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG). Growing up in one of the most remote parts of northeast Iceland, he got to know the scarcities of an Arctic childhood until education and eventually his work in the Foreign Service of Iceland drew him out into the world. Chairing SDWG is a return to the Arctic Council for Stefán Skjaldarson. He was involved in the Rovaniemi Process – a forerunner of today’s Council – and took part in the preparatory meetings for establishing the Arctic Council. In this brief interview, he speaks about experiences and inspiration guiding his work for SDWG over the coming years.