Arctic Council senior officials to meet this week in Yellowknife

Marine safety, pollution, oil spill preparedness all on the agenda


Senior Arctic officials of the Arctic Council at their March 2014 meetings in Yellowknife. (PHOTO BY ACS/LINNEA NORDSTROM)

Senior Arctic officials of the Arctic Council at their March 2014 meetings in Yellowknife. (PHOTO BY ACS/LINNEA NORDSTROM)

The Arctic Council’s senior officials will find a lot on their plate at a meeting in Yellowknife this week, including discussions around pollutants, animal and plant diversity, marine shipping issues, and emergency preparedness.

The Oct. 22 to Oct. 23 meeting is meant to “assess progress on the council’s priorities during Canada’s chairmanship,” says an Oct. 20 news release.

“This meeting marks an important milestone on the way to the Arctic Council’s 2015 ministerial meeting,” which is scheduled to unfold in Iqaluit April 24 to April 25, 2015, said the senior officials’ chair, Vincent Rigby, in the news release.

The Arctic Council’s working groups and task forces plan to update the senior officials on items which will come up at that April meeting next year, says the release. Those updates will include:

• a report by the Arctic Contaminants Action Program on the reduction of black carbon emissions, such as soot from residential wood combustion in the Arctic;

• an update from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program on short-lived climate pollutants, human health, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and radioactivity;

• policy priorities from the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment group’s work on revisions to the Arctic Marine Strategic Plan — a plan which sets out priorities for the next 10 years and covers such topics as marine-protected areas and Arctic tourism;

• work of the Sustainable Development Working Group to promote traditional and local knowledge, develop a climate change adaptation portal and promote mental wellness in the circumpolar Arctic; and,

• work of the Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response group’s marine risk assessment and guide on oil spill response in ice and snow including a report on the first exercise conducted by the Arctic Marine Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Agreement in Canada, May 2014.

The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum made up of the eight circumpolar states as well as six permanent Aboriginal groups and non-Arctic observers.

Member states consist of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. The Aboriginal member groups include the Inuit Circumpolar Council.

Canada is currently chair of the Arctic Council until 2015.

The council’s next meeting — in Iqaluit in April 2015 — will be hosted by Leona Aglukkaq, MP for Nunavut and Arctic Council chair.

During this meeting, chairmanship of the council will pass to the U.S., which will hold the leadership until 2017.

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