The strong knowledge base produced by the Arctic Council’s Working Groups and other subsidiary bodies feeds into policy recommendations for informed decision-making.

Based on the compiled knowledge – including scientific findings as well as traditional knowledge – of their reports and assessments, the Working Groups often develop scientific summaries. These in turn serve as the starting point for a set of policy recommendations, which are outlined in a brief summary for policy makers or as part of the full report.

Consensus advice

While the Working Groups’ assessments and reports follow the process of peer-reviewed scientific publications, the policy recommendations are reviewed and agreed to in consensus by the national representatives of the Arctic states with full consultation and involvement of the Permanent Participants.

Reaching beyond the Arctic

The policy recommendations are primarily aimed at the eight Arctic States and six Permanent Participant organizations. However, many issues across the Arctic from biodiversity, to pollution and climate change, require more far reaching actions and thus depend upon the involvement of non-Arctic states, regional and local authorities, industry and all who live, work and travel in the Arctic. The Council’s recommendations may, therefore, also provide a guide for action for states, authorities, and organizations beyond the Arctic Council.

Global impact

Besides national implementation actions across the Arctic States, recommendations by the Arctic Council have contributed to and influenced international frameworks and conventions.

  • The 2002 assessment on persistent organic pollutants by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) for example contributed to the negotiations that eventually led to the Stockholm Convention.
  • The Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment, which was published in 2009 by the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group (PAME) in turn played a key role in moving towards mandatory rules and regulations for ships operating in polar waters. The result is the Polar Code by the International Maritime Organization.
  • The process to develop the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment led to recognition of Arctic biodiversity by the Convention on Biological Diversity as a new and emerging issue; and an invitation to the Arctic Council to provide relevant information and assessments of Arctic biodiversity resulted in a decision on cooperation with the Arctic Council.

Featured projects

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Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) of the Central Arctic Ocean
PAME has teamed up with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) to investigate the current state of the Central Arctic...
Project pageOverview
Circumpolar Oil Spill Response Viability Analysis Phase II (COSRVA II)
The COSRVA is intended to provide more science-based decision-making in Arctic oil spill response contingency planning. An additional benefit of the study is the identification of components or method...
Project pageOverview
Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter
The Regional Action Plan will address both sea and land-based activities, focusing on Arctic-specific marine litter sources and pathways that will play an important role in demonstrating Arctic States...
Project pageOverview
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Good Practices for impact assessments and engagement
The Good Practices for Environmental Impact Assessment and Meaningful Engagement in the Arctic (Arctic EIA) provides Arctic-specific recommendations for large-scale projects in the vulnerable and chan...
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Actions for Arctic Biodiversity 2013-2021
Implementing the recommendations of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment.
Project pageOverview

News

Action on plastic: On track with the regional action plan for the Arctic

In October 2019, the Belfer Center’s Arctic Initiative and the Wilson Center’s Polar Institute co-hosted a workshop on Policy and Action on Plastic in the Arctic Ocean wi...
22 Apr 2020

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.
29 Sep 2019
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Actions for Arctic Biodiversity

Actions for Biodiversity 2013-2021: implementing the recommendations of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA), is the implementation plan for the Arctic Biodiversity A...
14 Sep 2015
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