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Thematic articles highlighting Arctic Council accomplishments under the Canadian Chairmanship

21 April 2015
This series of articles highlights some of the important initiatives undertaken during Canada's chairmanship...

During Canada’s chairmanship, the Arctic Council undertook important initiatives to promote economic and social development in the Arctic as well as protect the environment. The series of articles below highlight some of this important work being delivered to Iqaluit 2015. Click on any title to read the full article.

Safe Shipping and Marine Environmental Protection
The Arctic Council’s vision for the Arctic marine environment is one that is healthy, productive, and resilient, and that supports human well-being and sustainable development for current and future generations. As changes happen in the region, including retreating sea ice that is opening Arctic marine areas for increased shipping and resource use, affecting ecosystems, economies and traditional ways of life for indigenous peoples, the Arctic Council is continuing to assess these changes and identify options to address them.

Protecting and Strengthening Arctic Species and Ecosystems
With its harsh climate and unique living conditions, the Arctic is home to many species of flora and fauna, and plays host to many others that migrate to the region throughout the year. In recent decades, environmental stressors such as climate change, pollution, disturbances, and habitat degradation have had an impact on the very fabric of Arctic ecosystems. As such, protecting and strengthening the Arctic’s ecosystems has been a priority for the Council during Canada’s chairmanship. The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) working group has completed important work to further biodiversity conservation in the Arctic.

Addressing Pollution in the Arctic: from knowledge to action
The Arctic Council has a long and rich history of scientific assessment work on pollution and climate change issues and was one of the first forums to recognize the importance of taking action to address short-lived climate pollutants given their impact on the Arctic.

Responsible Economic and Resource Development in the Arctic
Since it was established in 1996, the Arctic Council has focused on work that promotes sustainable development and environmental protection in the region. In 2013, marking the end of the first round of chairmanships, Ministers adopted a Vision for the Arctic, that looks to the future. Working towards a prosperous Arctic is part of this vision. It is recognized that the economic potential of the Arctic is enormous and its sustainable development is key to the region’s resilience and prosperity. In that vein, Arctic states indicated they will continue to work cooperatively to support the development of sustainable Arctic economies to build self-sufficient, vibrant and healthy Arctic communities for present and future generations.

Empowering the Cultures, Communities and Peoples of the Arctic
Traditional practices, cultural skills, values and spirituality are vital to the well-being of Arctic Indigenous peoples and communities, and greater awareness of the importance of traditional ways of life could lead to better decision-making both inside and outside the region. To help promote awareness of these traditional ways of life, the Council developed a written collection of best practices and programs being undertaken at local and regional levels showing how these ways of life can co-exist with modern ways to support healthy communities.

Strengthening the Arctic Council
The Arctic is undergoing rapid changes, and the Arctic Council is adapting to better address the opportunities and challenges that come with change. During Canada’s chairmanship, the Council focused on a number of initiatives to ensure it remains effective and strong.