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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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