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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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On 18-19 June 2019, Arctic Council delegates gathered in Reykjanesbær, Iceland, for the first Senior Arctic Officials’ executive meeting during the Chairmanship of Iceland (2019-2021). Amongst other things, the Senior Arctic Officials, joined by the Permanent Participants and representatives of the Council’s Working Groups, discussed initiatives falling under Iceland’s priority themes.

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In April 2020, the Icelandic government and the Nordic Council of Ministers will host an International Symposium on the Threat of Plastics to the Arctic and Sub-Arctic Marine Environment. The aim of the symposium is to gather the best available knowledge on plastics in the Arctic and to find solutions for tackling the issue. Registration is already possible and the call for abstracts will open on 1 July 2019.

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