Arcticportal News
AC's meeting in Whitehorse
Other News
Written by Federica   
Tuesday, 03 March 2015 09:04

Arctic Council logoArctic Council logoThe Arctic Council's Senior Arctic Officials (SAOs) are meeting in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada(2-5 March 2015). The attendants to the last meeting prior to the Iqualuit' Ministerial(when the chairmanship of the Arctic Council will be handed over to U.S.) are reviewing progress on the work of the Arctic Council under the Canadian Chairmanship and assessing the deliverables to be presented at the Ministerial meeting.

During the first day of the meeting,  the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG)  has endorsed a new project, EALLU Arctic Indigenous Youth: Traditional Knowledge and Food Culture – Navigation Towards Sustainability through New Approaches for Addressing Arctic Climate Change and Globalisation (short: EALLU Arctic Indigenous Youth, Climate Change and Food Culture). The project will be co-leaded by MSc Anders Oskal, Executive Director of the Int'l Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) and the Arctic Indigenous Peoples Culinary Institute.The project, co-leaded by Norway, Russian Federation and the Saami Council, will involve a wide cooperation of countries  and Permanent Particpants' associations.

According to the Arctic Council's website, the other issues to be addressed during the meeting include:
- A case study from the Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) of an initiative in the Russian Arctic to reduce black carbon emissions from diesel sources;
- Two policy-makers' summaries presenting the findings of new assessments by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) of short-lived climate pollutants (methane, black carbon and ozone) and human health, persistent organic pollutant trends, and radioactivity in the Arctic;
- The Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG)'s efforts to: develop recommendations to strengthen the use of traditional and local knowledge in the work of the Council; create an online climate change adaptation portal; submit a report on "Circumpolar Reflections on Sea Ice Use and Shipping in Inuit Nunaat"; maintain and further develop sustainable reindeer husbandry in the Arctic; and assess cancer trends among Arctic indigenous peoples and communities;
- The Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) group's work to: update the Arctic Marine Strategic Plan, which will provide policy priorities for marine-related issues of the Arctic Council for the next ten years; develop a pan-Arctic framework for marine protected areas; and develop best practices guidelines for Arctic marine tourism;
- The Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) working group's Guide on Oil Spill Response in Ice and Snow. EPPR will also report on the radiation exercise "Arctic-2014", which took place in the Murmansk region in June of 2014;
- The efforts of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) group to develop an action plan to implement the recommendations from the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, a work plan for the Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative, and present progress on the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program;
- A compilation highlighting best practices for the promotion of traditional ways of life in the Arctic
- Updates from the Council's task forces on priority initiatives to address black carbon and methane, develop an action plan on Arctic marine oil pollution prevention, and enhance scientific cooperation.


(Sources: Arctic Council and International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry



WRH Chair Mikhail Pogodaev Nominated as Executive Director of Northern Forum
Other News
Written by Federica   
Monday, 02 March 2015 06:50

Mikhail Pogodaev, Executive Director of Northern Forum (Photo: Mikhail Pogodaev, the Executive Chair of the Association of World Reindeer Herders has been nominated to be Executive Director of the Northern Forum. Pogodaev is Even and was raised in a reindeer herding family in Topolinoe, in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). Pogodaev has been engaged in cooperation across the north between reindeer herding peoples since he was young, following in the footsteps of his mother, Maria Pogodaeva who played an important role in the early history and establishment of the Association of World Reindeer Herders after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

This is a period of change for the Northern Forum and it is an exciting prospect that an indigenous person from reindeer husbandry could be selected to steer the organization through an exciting, but intensely challenging time in the North generally, and in small rural communities in particular.
Northern Forum is one of the regular observers to the Arctic Council, alongside WRH, and has collaborated with WRH since the early 90s. Northern Forum is currently undergoing some changes, as the previous Executive Director Mr Vladimir Vasiliev has been appointed Minister of Federal Attitudes and External Affairs of the new Sakha Republic Government. Therefore the position of Executive Director of the forum has become vacant, and has been announced earlier. One of the candidates for this position is Dr Mikhail Pogodaev, who as current Chair of WRH is very active in the Arctic cooperation, including in the work of the Arctic Council. We are very pleased that a representative of reindeer herding peoples has been nominated to this position by the Head of Sakha Republic, H.E. Egor Borisov.

In fact, the history of the establishment of the Northern Forum is also closely linked with the history of WRH, while this may be unknown to many people today. Northern Forum has been an arena for very important interregional cooperation across the Arctic regions. There are however some challenges for the organisation, where Northern Forum has experienced some difficult years where some key regions have left this collaboration. But at the same time, there are also a great potential for this cooperation between different Arctic regions. It is good that Alaska and other regions are considering rejoining the Northern Forum, which we interpret as a very good sign for the organization. The existing close cooperation and institutional relations between reindeer herding peoples and their institutions could also be positive for the Northern Forum, for instance connected to the Arctic Council, the University of the Arctic and so on. In this regard, ICR and WRH was honoured to be asked by the Board of Governors of University of the Arctic to construct the 3rd UArctic Institute – the UArctic EALÁT Institute – in 2009. The Council of this Institute has been led by Mikhail Pogodaev since the beginning. As Chair of WRH, Dr Pogodaev has also led the work of WRH in the United Nations, where WRH has an official Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council. This includes experience with different parts of the UN system, including UNEP, UNPFII, UNESCO and GEF.

With his broad experience of international cooperation and his very good relations to other regions, we believe Dr Pogodaev could contribute very strongly to strengthen the Northern Forum, and facilitating the rejoining on equal terms of other regions to this collaboration including from Fennoscandia. His candidacy also represents a great potential for inclusion of indigenous peoples into the international cooperation between different regions of the North, given Mr Pogodaev´s strong relations with organizations of indigenous peoples across the circumpolar north. In this time of international challenges, the collaboration between northern regions and northern peoples are even more important, in our opinion.

Mikhail Pogodaev has been representing WRH in the Arctic Council as Head of Delegation for many years, and has also led Arctic Council projects on behalf of the Russian Federation and Norway, and has also actively participated in different working groups. He has experience of working on this uniqe international forum and he could also strengthen cooperation between Northern Forum and Arctic Council. We believe that there is a potential for synergies between these international organizations, as all decisions that are shaped in the Arctic Council will ultimately have to be implemented on regional/ local levels. At the same time, there would more or less always be needs for better coordination between federal and local authorities, as well as meaningful participation of indigenous peoples in decision making processes.

Therefore, we believe that an appointment of Mikhail Pogodaev to a leading position of the Northern Forum will strengthen the organisation and its links to the Arctic Council, UN, Arctic indigenous peoples and NGOs, and thus cooperation in the Arctic!

Anders Oskal, Executive Director of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry,
Kautokeino, Norway

Johan Mathis Turi, Secretary General of the Association of World Reindeer Herders

Inger Anita Smuk, Chair of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry

Svein Msthiesen, Professor of the Institute for Circumpolar Reindeer Husbandry of the University of the Arctic

The Northern Forum secretariat is based in Yakutsk, the capital of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). The Northern Forum was established to improve the quality of life of Northern peoples by providing Northern regional leaders a means to share their knowledge and experience in addressing common challenges and to support sustainable development and the implementation of cooperative socio-economic initiatives among Northern regions and through international fora. The Board also formally manages the Northern Forum Regional Coordinators Committee and the Secretariat. The Chairman of the Board is elected during the General Assembly and can serve two terms. The present Chair is Mr. Egor Borisov, the Acting Head of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Russia




Polar Bears Day
Other News
Written by Federica   
Friday, 27 February 2015 11:11

Polar Bear Petition (photo: Polar Bears International) Polar Bear Petition (photo: Polar Bears International) Since 2013, Polar Bears International celebrates the Polar Bears Day on February 27th. The initiiative is to raise awareness on the drastic effects climate change is having on the Arctic, the natural habitat of the Polar bear. To support the initiative, you can sign the petition: 

Polar bears need you—and people do, too!

Sign the Petition for Polar BearsIn a world warmed by climate change, the polar bear's sea ice home is literally melting away. Without action, wild polar bears—the very symbol of the Arctic—could disappear.

Climate change threatens polar bears, but the impacts reach far beyond polar bears and far beyond the Arctic. People are at risk, too, from rising sea levels, crop failures, and extreme weather events from droughts to floods.

Polar bears can't walk to the climate change talks in Paris this December to ask for help. You can speak up for them by signing our Petition for Polar Bears.

Please sign our petition to ask the world's nations to create a plan for greenhouse gas reductions that are fast and deep enough to help polar bears—and, by extension, people. By signing, you'll speak up for renewable energy, for efforts to stop deforestation, for a greener world.

You'll help ensure a future for polar bears. And by ensuring a future for polar bears, you'll help countless other species—including our own.


More information and if you want to sign the petition, click here.


An overview on the Polar Code
Shipping News
Written by Federica   
Thursday, 26 February 2015 10:31

Sea Ice (photo: Federica Scarpa) Sea Ice (photo: Federica Scarpa) The long-awaited Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) has been eventually adoped by Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in November 2014, while MARPOL amendments and the environmental elements are expected to be adopted by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), at its next session in May 2015.It is expected to enter into force by January 2017.  The Polar Code is intended to cover the full range of shipping-related matters relevant to navigation in waters surrounding the two poles – ship design, construction and equipment; operational and training concerns; search and rescue; and, equally important, the protection of the unique environment and eco-systems of the polar regions. IMO has recently published a very informative infographic on the main changes the Polar Code will bring to ship safety in Polar waters (click here to visualize tIMO infographic).

We publish today an interview with Secretary-General of IMO, Koji Sekimizu, released yesterday by ARctic Council (to see the original interview, please click here).

Q: In your view, what are the main challenges of increased shipping in Arctic waters and how will the Polar Code help address these?

A: The receding sea ice in the Arctic Ocean provides an excellent opportunity for shorter sea passages – which means reduced costs. But it also takes shipping into an environment that is not only extremely harsh and challenging for ships to operate in, but which also lacks - or has limited - infrastructure for safe navigation on which safe and green shipping relies, including up‑to-date hydrographic charts, provision of navigational information, search and rescue, oil spill response and so on. The infrastructure challenges need to be addressed in order to ensure that support systems are in place for Arctic voyages.

IMO's Polar Code aims to provide the regulations needed to safeguard shipping and protect the environment in such inhospitable conditions and therefore covers the full range of shipping-related matters relevant to navigation in waters surrounding the two poles – ship design, construction and equipment; operational and training concerns; search and rescue; and, equally important, the protection of the unique environment and ecosystems of the polar regions. Ships and crew must be fully prepared for Arctic and Antarctic voyages.

The Polar Code (safety elements) have now been adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in 2014, and the environmental elements are expected to be adopted by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), at its next session in May 2015, together with associated MARPOL amendments. The Polar Code is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2017 under the International convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

However, the Polar Code alone does not and cannot address the infrastructure challenges.

With regards to charts, the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), which has worked closely with IMO in developing the Polar Code, has noted that systematic and complete hydrographic surveys have not been carried out in many polar areas due to their extensive, remote and inhospitable nature, while the presence of ice throughout much of the year limits the ability to conduct hydrographic surveys, although increasingly large unsurveyed areas may be becoming available for navigation due to the melting of glaciers and sea ice. The IHO has assessed that 95 per cent of the Antarctic region is unsurveyed and appropriate scale chart coverage is generally inadequate for coastal navigation, while the situation is similar in the Arctic region

The IHO has been working through the Arctic Regional Hydrographic Commission (ARHC) to improve the situation but it could take many years for a full range of adequate charts to be available.

In the meantime, I welcome the efforts of countries in the region to boost their efforts to carry out surveys, to work towards producing relevant charts and to provide aids to navigation, including the Russian Federation, via the Northern Sea Route Administration (established in 2013).

The communications infrastructure also presents a challenge. The expansion of the World-Wide Navigational Warning System (WWNWS) into Arctic waters was achieved in 2011 with full operational status in the five designated NAVAREAs areas established for the purposes of coordinating the broadcast of navigational warnings) and METAREAs (areas established for the purposes of coordinating the marine metrological information), with Canada, Norway and the Russian Federation assuming responsibility for coordinating the dissemination of maritime safety information, including weather warnings and other relevant maritime safety information. (The areas are: NAVAREA/METAREA XVII – Canada; NAVAREA/METAREA XVIII – Canada; NAVAREA/METAREA XIX – Norway; NAVAREA/METAREA XX- Russian Federation; NAVAREA/METAREA XXI – Russian Federation).

This was a significant step. However, the present Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) service provider (Inmarsat), recognized under the GMDSS, utilises geostationary satellites that cannot provide full coverage in the Polar regions, so high-frequency narrow-band direct printing has to be used as an alternative means of promulgation of maritime safety information.

In order to provide comprehensive coverage of GMDSS using polar orbiting satellites, the Iridium mobile satellite system is currently being evaluated for recognition under the GMDSS.

If an accident or oil spill were to occur in the Arctic then search and rescue facilities and oil spill preparedness of the States concerned would be highly tested. In this context, the Arctic Council has already prepared a multi-lateral agreement for providing SAR services in the Arctic region. Similar proposals are afoot for the Antarctic region.

Meanwhile, there is good cooperation among members of the Arctic Council's Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group (EPPR), which is addressing various aspects of prevention, preparedness and response to environmental emergencies in the Arctic. Further, in 2013 the Arctic states (who are also IMO Member States) signed the legally-binding Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution, Preparedness and Response in the Arctic, which will enhance response capacity in the region.

Arctic Council Members have also contributed to the development of IMO's Guide on oil spill response in ice and snow conditions, which is expected to be finalized at the next session of its Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR 3), in 2016.

Voyage planning is one of the most important elements for successfully navigating in the Polar regions. To this end, it is perhaps time to consider extending the provisions of IMO resolution A.999(25) on IMO Guidelines on voyage planning for passenger ships operating in remote areas to all ships operating in the Polar Regions.

Ice breaker provision, such as that made available by the Russian Federation for merchant ships transiting the Northern Sea route, is another aspect of the crucial support system for Arctic voyages. The provision needs to be monitored to ensure it meets demand.

All the above are largely the responsibility of coastal States, but I see a role for IMO and the Arctic Council in terms of coordination and collaboration.

I have personally had the good fortune to experience both the Arctic and the Antarctic at first hand, which has reinforced for me how vital it is that regulators, governments, policymakers and administrators work together to create the conditions in which Polar development can be safe, environmentally sound and sustainable.

In 2013, I was lucky enough to experience the realities of navigation in the harsh, remote and environmentally-sensitive Arctic region when I undertook a 1,700-mile voyage from the Kara Sea to the East Siberian Sea aboard the nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy, as a guest of the Government of the Russian Federation. During the voyage, I was able to observe closely the operation of the vessel, communication systems, charts and other navigational aids, and to assess the development of the search and rescue coordination centres at Dikson in the Kara Sea and Pevek in the East Siberian Sea.

Q: Protection of the marine environment is an issue important to both the Arctic Council and the IMO. How will the Polar Code's pollution prevention provisions help protect Arctic waters?

A: The Polar Code adds additional requirements to those already applicable to ships under relevant IMO treaties, in order to address the specific challenges ships face when trading in the harsh conditions of the two poles. This should help to prevent accidents, thereby minimizing any potential pollution damage.

Also, specific environmental provisions address operational discharges, to supplement the requirements already contained in MARPOL. As the Antarctic area is already established as a Special Area under MARPOL Annexes I and V, with stringent restrictions on discharges, the Polar Code aims to replicate many of those provisions in the Arctic area.

Part II of the Polar Code, which has been approved by the MEPC for adoption in May this year, includes mandatory provisions in chapters covering the following topics:

prevention of pollution by oil, including discharge restrictions prohibiting any discharge into the sea of oil or oily mixtures from any ship, as well as structural requirements including protective location of fuel-oil and cargo tanks;
control of pollution by noxious liquid substances in bulk, prohibiting any discharge into the sea of noxious liquid substances, or mixtures containing such substances;
prevention of pollution by sewage from ships, prohibiting the discharge of sewage except for comminuted and disinfected sewage under specific circumstances, including a specified distance from ice; and
prevention of pollution by garbage from ships, adding additional restrictions to the permitted discharges (under MARPOL Annex V, discharge of all garbage into the sea is prohibited, except as provided otherwise). Food wastes shall not be discharged onto the ice and discharge into the sea of comminuted and ground food wastes is only permitted under specific circumstances including at a not less than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land, ice-shelf or fast ice. Only certain cargo residues, classified as not harmful to the marine environment, can be discharged.
Q: How should the IMO and Arctic Council further enhance cooperation and collaboration to achieve safe and sustainable Arctic shipping in the coming years?

A: I would like to see further cooperation between the Arctic states – who are Member States of IMO in their own right - and the IMO in terms of supporting and coordinating the necessary infrastructure to ensure safe shipping in the region.

The coastal States have the largest burden of responsibility for providing infrastructure and support and there are already good examples of this. But if shipping in the Arctic expands significantly then the need for cooperation will increase, with the involvement of the coastal State but also the flag States whose ships will ultimately trade in and through the region. This is where IMO and the Arctic Council can play a supportive role, including providing the relevant forum for discussion of any further measures to support the implementation of the Polar Code.

The forthcoming International Conference on Safe and Sustainable Shipping in a Changing Arctic Environment (ShipArc 2015) which will be held at the World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmö, Sweden, from 25 to 27 August 2015, is a good example of how we can pursue working together to assess the challenges and work on them. The conference is being co‑organized and co-chaired by WMU, IMO and the Arctic Council. .

The conference aims to bring together relevant stakeholders, including those proposing resource development and shipping, those most likely impacted by Arctic shipping (for example, coastal communities) and those responsible for its sustainable management, to discuss a forward-looking regulatory, governance, research and capacity-building agenda that will define and assist in achieving safe and sustainable shipping in a changing Arctic environment.

This kind of conference is therefore a good example of ways in which we can build cooperation and collaboration.

All eight Arctic states are also Members of IMO and have contributed to the development of the Polar Code. I have no doubt that they will continue to play a part in the Organization's work on matters of relevance to the region, including developing and strengthening maritime infrastructure, the provision of navigational charts, the maintaining of search and rescue facilities, ensuring a continued comprehensive network of icebreaker support and providing maritime safety information. These are amongst a number of issues which will all need to be addressed in parallel with the implementation of the polar code by the shipping community.


Source: Arctic Council

Reminder: Arctic Yearbook 2015, call for abstracts
Other News
Written by Federica   
Wednesday, 25 February 2015 08:58

2015 ArcticYearbook2015 ArcticYearbookThe Arctic Yearbook is calling for abstracts for the 2015 edition. Deadline for abstracts: 1 March 2015.

The Arctic Yearbook is an international and peer-reviewed volume which focuses on issues of regional governance, circumpolar relations, geopolitics and security, all broadly defined including global aspects. The Arctic Yearbook is an initiative of the Northern Research Forum (NRF) and University of the Arctic's joint Thematic Network on Geopolitics and Security.

This year's theme is "Arctic Governance and Governing". The theme is meant to evaluate the innovation and progress being made in Arctic governance today, as well as conflicts and challenges. Topics may include, but are not limited to, local impact benefit agreements; local politics and elections; northern self-governance arrangements; current and future environmental regulatory frameworks; governance and regulatory gaps; state and non-state cooperation; state and sub-national government cooperation; the new IMO polar shipping regime; regional agreements; regional and/or global governance structures; and assessments of regulatory barriers to economic development. Comprehensive or theoretical evaluations of Arctic governance, including examples of successes and failures, are also encouraged.

Other topics of contemporary significance to regional development, circumpolar relations, geopolitics and security will also be welcome.

Abstracts should be 250-400 words and include author name(s), institutional affiliation and article title, to be submitted to Heather Exner-Pirot ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

The deadline for abstracts is March 1, 2015. Notice of acceptance will be provided on March 15, 2015, and articles (4000-6000 words) must be submitted by June 15. Expected publication is in fall 2015.

The editors also welcome proposals for commentaries (1-3 page opinion pieces) and briefing notes (3-5 pages) from experts and policymakers on current issues and events.

See the full call for abstracts on the Arctic Yearbook website.


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