The eight Arctic states rotate the chairmanships of the organizations, currently occupied by Sweden. The Norwegian, Danish and now the Swedish chairmanships have common objectives for their Arctic Council chairmanships between 2006 and 2013.
The first objective relates to climate change.
The aim is to follow up on the findings of the ACIA report and pursue implementation of the recommendations set out in the ACIA Policy Document adopted at the 2004 Ministerial Meeting. The Council "should continue its efforts to provide high quality information on climate change that includes input from all Arctic states and peoples."
The next objective is the integrated management of resources.
Sustainable use of resources and protection of the environment will be important issues for the Council in coming years. The needs of Arctic communities and indigenous peoples will be in the forefront. A key objective is to enhance discussion on and promote the integrated management of natural resource use in accordance with high environmental standards. More work is also needed on the management of chemicals, to eliminate such threats to people and the environment as chemical waste and diffuse contamination.
The third objective is regarding the International Polar Year 2007-2008 (IPY)
Although the International Polar Year has passed its legacy is still ongoing. The IPY has given scientific research a boost in the Arctic and highlight the importance of the Polar Regions through several major events. The next three chairmanships will work closely with the IPY Joint Committee to provide political support for the IPY effort and to ensure that IPY results are taken into account in policy-making.
The fourth objective relates to Indigenous peoples and local living conditions
A cluster to bring together the various Arctic Council activities in this field should be considered. For many indigenous peoples, a combination of subsistence living and paid work provides the economic basis for a way of life that bridges traditional and modern modes of production. Reindeer husbandry and hunting for Arctic mammals are activities unique to the Arctic. Documentation and research on indigenous issues such as indigenous languages should be promoted in the interests of preserving culture and identity.
The fifth and last Management issues
The AC can look back on 10 years of successful cooperation, and 15 years of working to implement the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy. Valuable experience has been gained. It is very important that the AC continues ongoing evaluations of how it works, to ensure that its limited resources are used as efficiently as possible, according to the Council's website. A joint secretariat, led by the Chair of Senior Arctic Officials (SAO), was established in Tromsø for the period 2006-2012.
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.
During its chairmanship, Sweden will promote negotiation by the Arctic States of a tool for prevention, preparedness and response when extracting oil in the Arctic in order to safeguard the region. To justify development in this sensitive area, it is important that it takes place in accordance with the conditions that are characteristic of the region.
Sweden will therefore lead the work on drafting guidelines for responsible entrepreneurship in the Arctic, which are based on existing internationally agreed guidelines on corporate social responsibility (CSR). Responsible entrepreneurship means that companies freely assume responsibility – beyond what is required by applicable legislation – on how their activities affect the environment, labour law conditions, human rights and the prevalence of corruption in their markets of operation.
The aim is to create a platform for dialogue and cooperation on sustainable enterprise.
Canada will take over the Chairmanships in 2013 and run until 2015.
Website of the Swedish Chairmanship
Interview with Gustaf Lind (pictured), chair of the Swedish chairmanship. Recorded in April 2012.
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.
Six 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: