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Interview: Renée Sauvé, Chair of PAME

"Finland is providing leadership on initiatives that clearly link to the stewardship of the Arctic marine environment, such as their efforts related to environmental impact assessment and to the Task Force on Arctic Marine Cooperation."

1. What were some highlights of your first two years with PAME? What accomplishments are you most proud of thus far?

PAME members were pleased to see the emphasis that the U.S. placed on ocean issues; the U.S. was explicit that Arctic Ocean stewardship was a clear priority for their Chairmanship. As Chair, I wanted to make sure that our Working Group was able to delivery on this priority, and I am happy to say that we did.

The U.S. Chairmanship was notable not only because ocean-related issues were such a priority, but because PAME delivered a record number of documents to the Ministerial, and a record number of references to PAME work were endorsed in the Fairbanks Declaration. PAME delivered 14 documents to Ministers, and Ministers in the Fairbanks Declaration noted seven PAME-led initiatives, and two projects for which PAME was a co-lead. However, it is not just about volume and profile, it is also about influence; and there are a few initiatives PAME concluded during my first term that I think have helped fill gaps in the conservation and sustainable use of the arctic marine environment. PAME undertook, as lead and co-lead, work in three areas that has helped increase the safety and sustainability of Arctic shipping; advanced area-based protection; and, strengthened the ability of the Arctic region to combat invasive alien species.

Since its production of the 2009 Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment, PAME has become the focal point in the Arctic Council for shipping issues. And this could not be more pertinent with global warming trends. The efforts of the Shipping Experts Group under PAME not only contributed momentum in the International Maritime Organization for the development and adoption of the Polar Code; but resulted in a modern shipping database system that provides a much-needed regional picture of maritime activity, and has also resulted in a Best Practices Forum that provides an opportunity for the multitude of actors involved in Arctic shipping to share experiences, provide advice, and ultimately help ensure that the Polar Code can be effectively implemented in the region.

The marine protected areas Experts Group under PAME, in collaboration with CAFF experts, produced two excellent reference reports; one which provides the first regional inventory of protected areas – a status report that will prove increasingly valuable as we strive to make progress to achieve national and international targets; and a second report laying out a comprehensive range of conservation tools that can be used by stewards of marine and coastal areas.

Finally, of particular note during my first term, was a collaborative effort between CAFF and PAME for the production of strategy and action plan to tackle the challenge of alien invasive species; it provides a much-needed road map to combat this growing phenomenon.

2. What are you most looking forward to in the two years ahead, during the Finnish Chairmanship?

While I do not envision the next two years to produce the same volume of PAME products, it is evident that ocean-related issues continue to be priorities during the Finnish Chairmanship. In addition to contributing experts to PAME projects, Finland is providing leadership on initiatives that clearly link to the stewardship of the Arctic marine environment, such as their efforts related to environmental impact assessment and to the Task Force on Arctic Marine Cooperation.

For PAME, we have an attractive agenda that Ministers have endorsed with some continuing work and some exciting work in new areas. I am looking forward to progress on developing a Pan-Arctic Network of Marine Protected Areas, in particular by considering the role of these networks in building resilience to the effects of climate change, and by specifically focusing on the role of indigenous and coastal communities in the conservation of marine areas.

PAME has also being facilitating a review of the meaningful engagement of indigenous and coastal communities in marine development activities; I am hopeful that the final report will be able to reveal useful best practices.

PAME’s Shipping Experts will continue to undertake some useful work, in particular as it relates to having a better understanding of how and where heavy fuel oil is used in the Arctic and consideration of alternative fuels, in addition to advancing the development of low-impact shipping corridors.

Finally, marine debris has risen to be a global priority, and PAME would like to help efforts to tackle this. With four co-leads, PAME is undertaking a desktop study on marine litter to pull together the latest information for a regional picture of the challenge. This is a critical first step to understand the nature and magnitude of the issue in the Arctic, and hopefully set the stage for important action.