The eight Arctic states rotate the chairmanship of the organization, currently occupied by Canada.
The Arctic Council is working to ensure that Arctic development takes place responsibly and sustainably. Commercial businesses in the Arctic will play the strong role in building a sustainable and economically vibrant future for the region.
Establishing a Circumpolar Business Forum will foster circumpolar economic development and provide opportunities for business to engage with the Arctic Council.
As activity in the region increases, Arctic states are cooperating to protect the marine environment and the livelihoods of Northern peoples.
In May 2013, the Arctic states signed an Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic.
The Council has also begun work on oil-pollution prevention. This work will continue during Canada's chairmanship. Effective action to prevent oil pollution is critical to ensuring the protection of the Arctic marine environment.
Opportunities for tourism are growing in the Arctic. By establishing guidelines for sustainable tourism and cruise-ship operations, the Arctic Council will encourage the benefits that tourism will bring to communities while reducing the risks associated with increased activity.
Arctic Council states will also continue to work closely together to encourage the International Maritime Organization's efforts to develop a mandatory polar code for the Arctic Ocean.
For the region's inhabitants, developments in the Arctic are a source of both challenges and opportunities. Climate change affects the cultures of the indigenous peoples and their traditional trades, such as reindeer husbandry, hunting and fishing.
At the same time, the business community's increasing interest in Arctic areas may create opportunities for economically more advantageous living conditions.
The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, an Inuk from Nunavut, is Canada's Minister for the Arctic Council. Her appointment underlines the priority that the Government of Canada places on the Arctic as well as its commitment to ensure that the region's future is in the hands of Northerners.
The theme of Canada´s chairmanship is: ´´Development for the people of the North´´, with a focus on responsible Arctic shipping and sustainable development of fragile Arctic communities.
Canada will work collaboratively with its Arctic Council partners to strengthen the internal and external affairs of the Council.
The main purpose is to enhance the capacity of the Permanent Participants organizations, improve the Council´s coordination and maximize efficiencies.
During their chairmanship, Canada has been stressing out the need for Arctic Council policy on responsible Arctic resource development and safe Arctic shipping.
Click here to download the brochure of the Arctic Council Program during Canada´s Chairmanship (2013 – 2015).
Senior Arctic Official: Sheila Riordon
Chairmanship: 1996–1998 and 2013-2015
Senior Arctic Official: Klavs A. Holm / Hanna í Horni (FO) / Naja Lund (GR)
Chairmanship: 2009-2011 and 2025-2027
Senior Arctic Official: Hannu Halinen
Chairmanship: 2000–2002 and 2017-2019
Senior Arctic Official: Jónas G. Allansson
Chairmanship: 2002–2004 and 2019-2021
Senior Arctic Official: Karsten Klepsvik
Chairmanship: 2006–2008 and 2023-2025
Senior Arctic Official: Anton Vasilev
Chairmanship: 2004–2006 and 2021-2023
Senior Arctic Official: Gustaf Lind
Chairmanship: 2011-2013 and 2027-2029
Senior Arctic Official: Julie Gourley
Chairmanship: 1998–2000 and 2015-2017
The Council's activities are conducted in six working groups. The working groups are composed of representatives at expert level from sectoral ministries, government agencies and researchers. Their work covers a broad field of subjects. The working groups are:
The goal of ACAP is to reduce emissions of pollutants into the environment in order to reduce the identified pollution risks. ACAP also encourages national actions for Arctic State governments to take remedial and preventive actions relating to contaminants and other releases of pollutants. ACAP acts as a strengthening and supporting mechanism to encourage national actions to reduce emissions and other releases of pollutants.
AMAP's current objective is "providing reliable and sufficient information on the status of, and threats to, the Arctic environment, and providing scientific advice on actions to be taken in order to support Arctic governments in their efforts to take remedial and preventive actions relating to contaminants". AMAP is responsible for measuring the levels, and assessing the effects of anthropogenic pollutants in all compartments of the Arctic environment, including humans; documenting trends of pollution; documenting sources and pathways of pollutants; examining the impact of pollution on Arctic flora and fauna, especially those used by indigenous people; reporting on the state of the Arctic environment; and giving advice to Ministers on priority actions needed to improve the Arctic condition.
The biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council, and its mandate is to address the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, and to communicate its findings to the governments and residents of the Arctic, helping to promote practices which ensure the sustainability of the Arctic's living resources. CAFF's projects provide data for informed decision making in resolving the challenges which are now arising in trying to both conserve the natural environment and permit regional growth. This work is based upon cooperation between all Arctic countries, indigenous organizations, international conventions, and organizations.
The goal of the EPPR Working Group is to contribute to the protection of the Arctic environment from the threat or impact that may result from an accidental release of pollutants or radionuclide's. In addition, the Working Group considers issues related to response to the consequences of natural disasters. EPPR works with Arctic Council Working Groups and other organizations to ensure that the emergencies are appropriately addressed in Council products and work. EPPR also maintains liaison with the oil industry and other relevant organizations with the aim of enhancing oil spill prevention and preparedness in the Arctic.
The PAME Working Group's activities are directed towards protection of the Arctic marine environment. Increased economic activity and significant changes due to climatic processes are resulting in increased use, opportunities and threats to the Arctic marine and coastal environments. These predicted changes require more integrated approaches to address both existing and emerging challenges of the Arctic marine and coastal environments. PAME's mandate is to address policy and non-emergency pollution prevention and control measures related to the protection of the Arctic marine environment from both land and sea-based activities. These include coordinated action programmes and guidelines complementing existing legal arrangements.
The goal of SDWG is threefold. To propose and adopt steps to be taken by the Arctic States to advance sustainable development in the Arctic, including opportunities to protect and enhance the environment and the economies, culture and health of Indigenous Peoples and Arctic communities, as well as to improve the environmental, economic and social conditions of Arctic communities as a whole. The SDWG has major areas of activity which include: Arctic Human Health, Arctic Socio-Economic Issues, Adaptation to Climate Change, Energy and Arctic Communities, Management of Natural Resources, Arctic Cultures and Languages.
Out of a total of 4 million inhabitants of the Arctic, approximately 500,000 belong to indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples' organizations have been granted Permanent Participants status in the Arctic Council. The Permanent Participants have full consultation rights in connection with the Council's negotiations and decisions. The Permanent Participants represent a unique feature of the Arctic Council, and they make valuable contributions to its activities in all areas. The following organizations are Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council:
Observer status in the Arctic Council is open to non-arctic states, inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary organizations, global and regional and non-governmental organizations.
Twelve non-arctic countries have been admitted as Permanent Observer States to the Arctic Council:
Nine Intergovernmental and Inter-Parliamentary Organizations have been given observer status:
Eleven Non-government organizations are observers in the Arctic Council:
The Arctic Council has issued many recognized publications through the years. They include: