Protecting the Arctic

Written evidence submitted by the UK Government

1. The Government welcomes the opportunity to submit evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee’s Inquiry on Protecting the Arctic.

2. This written evidence has been co-ordinated and submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Polar Regions Unit, with contributions from a range of other Government Departments. In order to aid the Committee in relation to follow-up questions, the lead Department for each policy issue is highlighted at the end of each section throughout the document and summarised at Annex A.

3. This evidence is divided into three sections: an overview; detailed responses to each of the six questions posed by the Committee; and annexes providing further detail on the Departments and Ministers responsible for individual policy areas and the strategies of individual Arctic states.



4. The UK is not an Arctic State, but it is a close neighbour with a long history and strong environmental, political, economic and scientific interests in the region. Events in the Arctic, whether natural or human-induced, have an impact on the UK, and vice versa.

5. The UK engages actively with the Arctic in a multitude of ways, and many different UK Government Departments are actively engaged on Arctic policy issues. In summary the key British Government interests in the region include:

· The protection of the Arctic environment and ecosystem;

· Supporting and encouraging the continued co-operation among the Arctic States, for example through the Arctic Council;

· Researching the effects of climate change on the Arctic and the Arctic as a barometer for climate change;

· The potential of the Arctic to strengthen energy security and the sustainable use and safe extraction of resources;

· The opening up of the Arctic to increase shipping and the issues related to that, including the development of a new Polar Shipping Code; and

· The study of the region by UK scientists.

Arctic Governance

6. The Governance of the Arctic rests with the sovereign Arctic States (Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States), supplemented and complemented by international agreements and treaties on specific issues. Each of these States has published their own Arctic strategy in recent years, which all reaffirm their commitment to ongoing co-operation within the Arctic Council, and recognition of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) or accepting customary international law as a legal framework for the governance of the Arctic Ocean, including the orderly settlement of claims to continental shelves. In addition, they collectively confirmed in the Ilulissat Declaration of 28 May 2008 that they remained committed to the legal framework set out by the international law of the sea.

7. The United Kingdom has been a State Observer to the Arctic Council since its establishment in 1996. The remit of the Arctic Council is, however, focused on environmental and sustainable development issues. The Council does not cover specific issues such as security and trade and plays a limited role (mainly in respect of environmental impacts) on issues such as shipping, energy and fishing. Such issues are, however, covered by other global institutions and agreements (to each of which the UK is an active party), such as UNCLOS, the World Trade Organisation, the International Maritime Organization, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Other international agreements, such as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer are also crucial to the protection of the Arctic environment.

Arctic Climate Change

8. The Arctic is one of the most rapidly warming places on earth and the disappearance of summer Arctic sea ice is entirely possible by the middle of this century. Whilst the UK remains committed to securing an international agreement to limit the global average temperature rise to below 2⁰C, the temperature rise in some parts of the high latitudes is likely to be considerably higher than this. The UK is working to gain a better understanding of the short and long term effects of climate changes in the Arctic and the resulting consequences for the UK. An iceless Arctic – or further significant reductions in ice coverage - will have a profound influence on shipping, fisheries, mineral and hydrocarbon exploitation, the environment and European weather.

Arctic Energy

9. The Arctic is widely believed to contain large, untapped hydrocarbon reserves, but further research and analysis is required to predict with any degree of certainty whether and when extensive mineral exploitation could happen across the Arctic region. For some time to come, it will remain more economically viable to tap energy resources elsewhere. However, important and significant development is already taking place in many regions of the Arctic. This activity is all authorised by the relevant Arctic State.

10. The UK does not have jurisdiction to authorise or permit activities in the region, but wherever possible is playing an active role in advocating for a well-governed process of mineral exploitation, with transparent market principles and fair access for British companies.

Arctic Research

11. Through the National Environment Research Council, the Government is investing £15m into a five-year Arctic Research Programme over the period 2011-2015. The overarching aim of this programme is:" To improve our capability to predict changes in the Arctic, particularly over timescales of months to decades, including regional impacts and the potential for feedbacks on the global Earth System.

12. The UK’s Arctic p rogramme focuses on four linked scientific objectives:

· Understanding and attributing the current rapid changes in the Arctic

· Quantifying processes leading to Arctic methane and carbon dioxide release

· Reducing uncertainty in Arctic climate and associated regional biogeochemistry (C and N cycling) predictions

· Assessing the likely risks of sub-marine hazards (tsunami) associated with rapid Arctic climate change

13. The likely practical results of this programme will include:

· New or improved models for atmospheric/ocean sea-ice process studies

· Improved capabilities for predicting changes in the Arctic

· Interpretation of current Arctic climate change and its implications for policymakers and Arctic communities

14. The programme is currently funding nine projects [1] . Four other international UK- led projects will be joining shortly and o pportunities for parallel programmes in other Arctic nations and beyond (e.g . USA, Canada, Germany, Norway and Sweden) are also under development .


How the effects of global warming might open up the region to commercial opportunities, and how the UK in taking advantage of these might ensure that the region’s environment is protected?

Energy and climate change

15. The Government recognises both the contribution that could be made to global and UK energy security by developing Arctic hydrocarbons resources and the threats posed to the fragile Arctic environment by climate change and by the development this may allow as remote areas become more accessible. However, given proper safeguards, we do not believe such development and protection are incompatible.

16. Climate change is already affecting the Arctic, with d ecreasing sea ice coverage and faster rises in temperature than elsewhere in the world:

· Arctic sea ice has a seasonal cycle, reaching its maximum extent in March and minimum extent in September. The rate of decline is currently about 3% per decade for the maximum (March) extent and about 11-12% per decade for the minimum (September) extent [2] . Ice thickness, as well as extent, is also decreasing and in recent years the region has become dominated by thinner younger ice, which is more vulnerable to seasonal melt. This leads to more open water in summer, which absorbs more heat, warming the ocean and further melting the ice.

· Arctic sea ice is expected to continue to decline in line with increasing global temperatures. The rate of sea ice loss will likely increase if the rate of global temperature rise increases. As the ice becomes thinner, modelling indicates that the total area of ice may be more variable year to year as more areas of ice become susceptible to melting completely during the summer.

· Results from climate models suggest that the Arctic could be nearly ice-free [3] in late summer as early as sometime between 2030 to 2050. This is a continuing research topic as there is a large spread in predictions between the models used by different climate centres, of when such nearly ice-free conditions will be reached. The model used by the Met Office Hadley Centre suggests the September sea ice extent could be down to a quarter of its current extent by 2040, giving virtually ice free conditions.

· Over the past 100 years or so, average temperatures in the Arctic have been increasing at a rate almost twice that for the rest of the world. The current warming in this region is amplified by the effects of sea ice melt.

· Modelling work using a range of climate models, including one at the Met Office Hadley Centre, suggests that the Arctic will continue to warm faster than the global average, at rates ranging from 0.9 to 1.5ºC per decade.

Shipping routes

17. Climate changes in the Arctic have resulted in increasing global interest in the region. The key focus for this increasing interest is the region’s economic potential and the potential for new transport routes that will shorten global maritime shipping routes significantly, for example when compared to routes through the Suez and Panama canals.

18. One of the principal effects of climate change on the Arctic will be to make the region more accessible to shipping. Both the Northwest Passage (through the waters north of Canada and Alaska) and the Northern Sea Route (through the waters north of Russia) offer significantly shorter travelling distances between Europe and Asia. The opening of the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route will increase shipping traffic in the Arctic regions, especially during the summer months.

19. The current assessment is that there is not yet significant UK involvement in shipping in the Arctic region. We do not believe that many ships flying the UK flag navigate or operate in Arctic waters, nor do we consider that a significant amount of trade to or from the UK yet passes through Arctic waters.

20. Currently, the Northern Sea Route is more than 50 per cent ice-free for only 20 to 30 days a year, and the Northwest Passage for a few days a year. Consequently, the Northern Sea Route is navigable by commercial vessels during the summer, although icebreaker assistance is necessary. The Northwest Passage does not appear to be consistently navigable yet because of the amount of drifting ice which is present even in the summer.

21. If the Arctic warming trend continues at its current rate, both routes will become consistently navigable by commercial vessels in th e coming decades. Progress will initially be more marked in the Northern Sea Route, because the warming that melted the ice in the Northwest Passage in recent summers also dislodged much older, heavy blocks of ice from further north which have drifted into the Passage.

22. The Government’s Climate Change Risk Assessment for the Marine and Fisheries Sector, published on 26 January 2012, states that:

"The projections show more future navigable days for the north-east passage than the north-west passage. This is key for UK economies as this is the route most relevant for UK markets. The total number of days assuming 30% ice extent cut off is 180 by the 2080s and as many as 90 days by the 2020s. This is in line with estimates from the Met Office and the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA, 2005). In comparison, the north-west passage is projected to be open up to 120 days of the year by the 2080s and only 30 days per year (one month) by the 2020s under the same ice cut off scenario. Under the lowest ice cut off scenario of 5%, the north-east passage is still projected to be navigable up to 120 days by the 2080s and 30 days by the 2020s. This is relevant when considering commercial benefits as this will require the lowest ice breaker capability or support, therefore lowering costs associated with safe transit. Of note is that the central Arctic is considered to be ‘open to navigation’ for 60 days by the 2080s under the 30% cut off scenario. In effect this suggests that the Arctic could be ice free during the summer months by the 2080s. Such projections have huge environmental and socio-economic consequences." [4]

23. In terms of reducing the length of time spent on existing conventional sea routes, the Government’s Climate Change Risk Assessment for the Marine and Fisheries Sector concludes that:

"by using the Arctic shipping routes there could be as much as a 40% reduction in shipping transportation required to service current flow demand for container traffic to Asia. Shorter shipping routes mean lower fuel costs, savings in terms of CO2 emissions and avoidance of passage fees for the Suez and Panama canals." [5]

24. There will also be an associated traffic increase connected with the ever growing exploration and extraction operations for both hydrocarbons and gas, which is likely to be a significant feature in any Arctic considerations. As yet there is no assessment of the likely increase in such traffic, or the extent to which it may be UK-flagged.


25. In addition, DEFRA works with the Multilateral Environmental Agreements, in particular the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Migratory Species, together with its daughter agreements, the OSPAR Convention and the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations, to address threats that development including fisheries activities may pose to species, in particular migratory species, in the Arctic region. Under the Ospar Convention all Contracting Parties are committed to delivering a well managed ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas within the Ospar Convention area, which includes parts of the Arctic region.

DECC has policy responsibility for climate change and energy exploitation; DfT and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on shipping routes; DEFRA on biodiversity, environmental and fishing issues; and BIS for the Arctic Research Programme.

What the consequences will be of unrestricted development in the Arctic?

National strategies

26. All development in the Arctic will come under the jurisdiction of one of the Arctic States (or under the framework provided by UNCLOS if in the high seas area of the Arctic Ocean). Each of the Arctic strategies published by the eight Arctic States includes references to the promotion of economic and social development of their northern Arctic regions, whilst ensuring a balance with environmental protection.

27. The regulation of oil and gas activities in the Arctic is, as elsewhere in the world, a matter for the national authorities in whose jurisdiction they take place. The countries likely to be most affected by the melting of sea ice in the Arctic – Canada, Denmark (for Greenland), Norway, Russia and the US – already have sophisticated regulatory systems covering both environmental protection and oil and gas activities. Each of the eight Arctic states has produced a strategy on how they will approach the full range of Arctic issues. Information on these strategies is given in Annexes B to I. These strategies are the responsibility of the state concerned, but have been summarised in this evidence paper to assist the Committee in its inquiry.

28. Given the proximity of Denmark (for Greenland) and Norway to the UK and the concentration of UK interests in potential hydro-carbon extraction on their continental shelves, this section of the evidence paper concentrates on those two members of the Arctic Council.

29. Both Denmark and Norway have expressed an extremely strong desire to avoid any unrestricted development of the Arctic. Their strategic and practical approach is to ensure that high standards of regulation are applied to any activities that take place on their continental shelves. As influential, highly regulated and environmentally aware countries, it is very much in their interests to ensure that the existing decision making processes – such as UNCLOS and the Arctic Council – reflect that strategic and practical approach.

30. While the UK government has no Arctic-specific regulatory expertise, we would, where it is sought, be willing to provide Arctic countries with advice based on our experience, either bilaterally or through the Arctic Council.

31. In the meantime, the UK will continue to work closely with all Arctic states to ensure that the perceived threat of unrestricted development does not materialise in reality. This is not an area for complacency, but nor is there yet strong evidence of unregulated or unrestricted development in the region.


32. The United Kingdom continues to play a leading role in tackling and reducing the global impact of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU). It does so through a combination of measures, including:

· strict controls on its own flagged vessels wherever they may be operating, including the use of vessel monitoring systems and electronic logbooks;

· stringent port inspection procedures for foreign fishing vessels landing into the UK, particularly those that have been operating in distant waters such as the Barents Sea;

· verification of catch certificates issued by flag states for fish imported into the UK from third countries;

· the issue of catch certificates for fish exported from the UK;

· restrictions on access to UK ports for vessels that have been identified as engaging in IUU fishing; and

· taking an active role in the development of EU negotiating lines in the various regional fisheries management organisations.

DECC and BIS have policy responsibility for engagement on the regulation of energy exploration; DEFRA on the consequences for illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing; and FCO on bilateral relations with Arctic states on their overall Arctic strategies.

How the Arctic energy reserves might impact on UK energy security and policy?

33. Even as we take steps to cut our greenhouse gas emissions and move to a low carbon economy the UK economy will continue to rely on fossil fuels. We will therefore continue to be dependent on access to functioning and well-supplied global oil and gas markets for secure supplies of these fuels. The Arctic can contribute to energy security through its large reserves, helping to replace production lost by the decline in output from existing oil and gas fields, provided this can be done in a sustainable way. 

34. But i t is very difficult to be definite about the scale of this contribution due to uncertainties over where such resources may be located, how rapidly they might be developed and the economics of their production relative to other sources of oil and gas.

35. The retreat of sea ice will allow the exploitation of hitherto inaccessible energy resources, both on- and offshore. The scale of these resources is significant, with the US Geological Survey estimating in July 2008 that:

"The area north of the Arctic Circle has an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil, 1,670 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas, and 44 billion barrels of technically recoverable natural gas liquids in 25 geologically defined areas thought to have potential for petroleum.

These resources account for about 22 percent of the undiscovered technically recoverable resources in the world. The Arctic accounts for about 13 percent of the undiscovered oil, 30 percent of the undiscovered natural gas, and 20 percent of the undiscovered natural gas liquids in the world. About 84 percent of the estimated resources are expected to occur offshore." [6]

36. The potential environmental impact of the development of deep water Arctic reserves must be addressed, particularly oil spill management in remote locations, and challenges posed by the depth of the water and extreme climatic conditions.  Recent F reedom of I nformation Act requests on exploration/drilling in the Arctic demonstrate growing concern from environmentalists.

37. Development of the Arctic’s onshore hydrocarbons has been underway for almost a century in the Russian Arctic.  UK companies such as BG, BP and Shell have decades of experience of Arctic onshore working, particularly in Russia and Canada.

38. Current discussion is on the development of deepwater offshore Arctic reserves. The UK is a world leader in offshore drilling regulation and already works closely with Norway on several offshore safety initiatives through the EU, G20, Oil Spill Response and Advisory Group (OSPRAG), and the Convention for the Protection of Marine Life.  The UK also has extensive academic and commercial research interests.

39. UK companies are well placed to take advantage of any commercial openings due to their technical expertise in complex deep water drilling.  For example, Edinburgh-based energy company Cairn has won exploration rights in Greenland and plans to invest over £1bn there over the next three years. T he largest oil field in the US is in the Arctic (Prudhoe Bay on the Beaufort Sea), and is operated by BP.  BP also has rights to onshore Arctic oil reserves in its Russian joint venture TNK-BP.  Shell also has significant Arctic interests.

40. In developing offshore Arctic reserves we need to: a) recognise that diversity of supply is key to securing energy security; b) ensure fair access to natural resources in the Arctic; c) push for the highest safety and environmental standards of extraction and the proper enforcement of those standards; d) ensure indigenous populations are involved in the decision making process and benefit from development of the Arctic’s resources.  

41. Decisions on the commercial viability of particular projects will be a matter for companies to determine in the light of the various associated costs and regulatory requirements.

42. The UK does not have jurisdiction for authorising or permitting activities in the region, but it does licence UK companies and has offshore support and supply facilities which could be involved in Arctic offshore development.  However, any drilling operations in the Arctic – deepwater or otherwise - are a matter for the respective Governments of the Arctic Council, at which the UK has observer status.  But we should urge Arctic states to adopt best environmental and regulatory practice when authorising any exploitation of mineral resources.  The Arctic Council is looking at preventing, preparing for and responding to oil spill responses in the Arctic.

DECC has policy responsibility for the potential implications of new energy reserves in the UK, working closely with the FCO and BIS.

How new Arctic shipping routes and fishing grounds might affect UK maritime and fisheries policy?

43. The Government works actively through the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to ensure that shipping operations in the Arctic, and indeed across the globe, are safe and environmentally sound. The UK continues to view both the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route as international straits, which should afford freedom of navigation, and is working with other States with a view to achieving international consensus. However, these routes will likely remain treacherous; ice clear will not mean ice free and hydrographic survey is currently inadequate. The UK is taking an active and influential role in the development of the Polar Code to enhance the suitability of vessels operating in the high latitudes.

44. An increase in shipping in the Arctic has ramifications for navigational safety and environmental protection. Navigation in Arctic latitudes continues to be hazardous and uncertain, and great care must be taken to ensure navigational safety. Ships operating in the Arctic environment are exposed to a number of unique risks. Poor weather conditions and the relative lack of good charts, communication systems and other navigational aids pose challenges for mariners. Cold temperatures may reduce the effectiveness of numerous components of the ship. When ice is present, it can impose additional loads on the hull and the propulsion system.

45. The normal environmental regulations contained in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (commonly known as MARPOL) apply to ships in Arctic waters. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that pollutant spills are demonstrably more difficult to deal with in ice conditions, and therefore prevention is a very high priority.

46. The existing international regimes are robust and we do not consider that it will be necessary or appropriate to make fundamental changes to them. UNCLOS sets out the general framework for the regulation of the maritime areas of the Arctic and – in the fields of maritime safety and prevention of pollution respectively – the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and MARPOL, both of which were developed in the forum of the IMO , w ill continue to regulate shipping operations .

47. However, within this existing framework there is undoubtedly a need for changes to be made to reflect increased shipping activity in the waters of the Arctic region and the special circumstances which apply there. Indeed, such work is in progress in the IMO.

48. The IMO’s Guidelines for ships operating in Polar waters contain provisions, over and above those normally required by the IMO conventions, which are necessary to address the climatic conditions of ice-covered waters and to meet appropriate standards of maritime safety and pollution prevention. These guidelines aim to promote the safety of navigation and to prevent pollution from ship operations in ice-covered waters.

49. The next step for the IMO is the development of its Guidelines for ships operating in Polar waters into a Polar Code. The Government is committed to playing an active and influential role in this work in the IMO. We envisage that the Polar Code will include both mandatory regulations for SOLAS ships and non-mandatory guidelines for non-SOLAS vessels.

50. The Government’s overriding principle towards the management of any new fisheries, including in the Arctic, will continue to be the precautionary and ecosystem approaches, based on best available scientific information. The Government will continue to work with and through the EU on discussions on sustainable management of Arctic fishing and fisheries.

51. It is unclear what the effects of climate change and retreating sea-ice in the Arctic will be on fishing and fishing grounds in the coming years and it is hard to predict the consequences particularly in terms of stock sizes and movements. It is possible that some stocks could move due to water temperature and other environmental impacts. This has been witnessed in some sea areas in the world where some warmer water species have moved to more northerly areas as sea temperatures increase. The unpredictable nature of change makes the continued insistence in the sustainable utilisation of fisheries resources all the more important. Good scientific evidence and practical action based on it will be crucial going forward.

DfT and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have policy responsibility for the policy and practical implications of new shipping routes. DEFRA has responsibility on the regulation of new fishing grounds.

What other UK domestic and foreign policies may potentially impact on the Arctic?

52. The UK is committed to a policy of negotiating a global legally binding agreement on climate change. It is therefore part of action to protect the environment in the Arctic and elsewhere, i t is essential that the world move s quickly to reduce emissions if we are to avoid dangerous climate change.

53. The UN Climate Change Conference in Durban in December that agreed to negotiate by 2015 the global leg ally binding framework also confirmed additional action to reduce emissions was needed in the meantime. We expect countries to deliver the reductions in emissions they have already agreed and to consider what further action can be take n .

54. As how countries deliver their commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions remains a matter for them to determine, decisions on whether particular projects in the Arctic go ahead are not directly linked to the UN climate change process.

55. As an important strategic region in our near neighbourhood, the Arctic is a part of the Government’s thinking in an extremely wide range of domestic and foreign policy areas. Government Departments are increasingly turning their attention to this area in considering the potential impact of their policies. The FCO convenes a regular Cross-Whitehall Arctic Group to bring together key Departments to consider key Arctic issues.

56. However, at this stage, the key policies with the greatest relation to the Arctic are maritime, climate change, environmental and energy supply and security issues.

DECC has policy responsibility for climate change, working closely with the Climate Change and Energy Group in FCO. Other policy responsibilities rest with the Department involved, i.e. defence issues with MOD.

How the Government might use its place on the Arctic Council to influence resource exploitation and steer development in the region to a more sustainable path. And what other opportunities exist for the UK to influence politics in the region to ensure sustainable development of the region?

57. The UK will continue to engage constructively with the Arctic Council, as the primary regional forum for Arctic issues. The UK is, however, a State Observer to the Council, and not a full member (as this status is only open to the Arctic States themselves). The UK believes that the Arctic Council could benefit from greater UK and other State Observer participation and exchange of expertise in order to achieve common goals, especially in terms of scientific collaboration and sustainable management of the Arctic.

58. The Council also does not focus on issues relating to resource exploitation, although it has continued to focus on related environmental aspects and is currently seeking to agree a legally binding instrument on oil spill response. The UK has offered to support bringing technical expertise into this process.

59. The UK therefore places great importance on constructive bilateral and multi-lateral co-operation with each of the Arctic States. The UK has bilateral Memoranda of Understanding on scientific co-operation with both Canada and Norway, which are particularly effective in promoting UK interests and effective practical collaboration.

60. The UK is committed to continuing active engagement with the Arctic Council and other international forums.

The FCO has overall policy responsibility for bilateral and multi-lateral engagement on Arctic issues, working closely with individual departments on their policy responsibilities.

List of Annexes

Annex A – Departmental and Ministerial Responsibilities for Arctic issues

Annex B – Denmark’s Arctic Strategy

Annex C – Norway’s Arctic Strategy

Annex D – Finland’s Arctic Strategy

Annex E – Iceland’s Arctic Strategy

Annex F – Russia’s Arctic Strategy

Annex G – Canada’s Arctic Strategy

Annex H – United States of America’s Arctic Strategy

Annex I – Sweden’s Arctic Strategy






Overall Arctic governance and UK’s engagement with the Arctic states, including:

· Arctic Council


Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)

Henry Bellingham MP



Charles Hendry M P

Climate change

DECC (with FCO)

Charles Hendry MP (with Henry Bellingham MP)

Shipping and transportation

DfT and Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Mike Penning MP

Environmental protection & fisheries


Richard Benyon MP


BIS (through the Natural Environment Research Council

David Willetts MP


BIS (with UKTI)

Lord Green



The Kingdom of Denmark’s approach to the Arctic was set out in its 2011-2020 Arctic strategy, launched in summer 2011 as a joint strategy for Denmark, Greenland and The Faroe Islands (i.e. the constituent parts of the Kingdom). The nature of the constituent parts, and the relationship between them, already mean that – in effect – Denmark’s Arctic strategy is a balancing act that covers many of the points of concern in the Committee’s enquiry.

Both Greenland and the Faroese have home rule. So decisions on development, exploration and exploitation of resources in Greenland are taken by the Greenland government. But any revenues from such exploration benefit Denmark too – as they lead to a reduction of the annual block grant from Denmark (and if such revenue increases to the point at which it matches the value of the block grant, then Greenland could –theoretically – choose full independence). There is a shared concern on ensuring the environment is protected, and that the increasing commercial exploitation of resources is managed in such a way as to also manage the societal changes in Greenland.

Mineral resources

On exploitation of mineral resources, the strategy commits the Kingdom to maintain high standards. The Danish Arctic Strategy sets out the key objectives:

· Greenland will continue the successful licensing policy and strategy of competitive tenders in the oil and gas sector. Sets of rules will be continually adapted to optimize safety, health, environment and transparency standards through the use and improvement of best available techniques and practices. This will include inspiration from other countries´ regulations, not least the Norwegian NORSOK standards.

· Cooperation will be expanded with authorities in similar areas, including Norway and Canada, and participation in relevant international fora such as the Arctic Council’s working groups is to be given high priority.

· The Kingdom will work actively in the IMO or other international fora, for the establishment of an international liability and compensation convention and a possible international compensation fund for pollution damage caused by offshore oil exploration and exploitation.

· Terms and conditions for licenses to exploit must be reasonable for both larger and smaller companies, resilient to fluctuating market conditions as well as simple and easy to administrate for companies and authorities.

· Mineral sector activities must be conducted responsibly as regards environmental, health and safety concerns, and an appropriate supervisory body must ensure compliance hereof.

The most advanced oil exploration project currently under way is with Cairn Energy. By the Greenland Government’s own reckoning, co-operation between Cairn and the authorities is good, with Norwegian consultants being used to monitor Cairn’s performance to ensure it meets the required safety standards. Cairn has also signed a co-operation agreement to recruit Greenland labour.

Living resources

Greenland and the Faroes have separate (to Denmark) fisheries agreements with the EU and currently account for over 75 per cent of total exports from each.

The Strategy commits the Kingdom to ensure sustainable development of living resources, as well as continuation on a sustainable basis of hunting for the indigenous communities. The Arctic Strategy sets out that:

· All living resources must be developed and exploited sustainably based on an ecosystem management that ensures a high return in the long term, and is in compliance with international obligations, while at the same time the Arctic communities’ rights are defended in support of the fishing and hunting industry. Management must be based on scientific advice that is founded on the collection, processing and analysis of data, including from hunters and industry.

· The Kingdom will work internationally for the Arctic indigenous peoples’ right to conduct hunting and to sell products from seal hunting, as long as it is based on sustainable principles.

· Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands will work to ensure that the utilisation of living resources, including marine mammals, is founded upon an ecosystem-based management model that places emphasis on scientific foundation and sustainability.

· Work continuously to ensure regular scientifically based monitoring of living resources in the Arctic with the involvement of its citizens. The precautionary principle should apply in cases where there is a lack of adequate knowledge about development in previously ice-covered areas.

· Effective management and control regimes must be pursued to counter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishery and hunting, and also work for international agreements on potentially attractive Arctic high seas not yet covered by the conservation and management systems. The parts of the Danish Realm will work to ensure that in general fishery does not commence where a conservation and management system is not available.

· The parts of the Danish Realm will work to strengthen international cooperation on scientifically based management of shared fish stocks and fishery in international waters with a view to promoting consensus on sustainable management plans and allocation formulas for the benefit of all relevant parties.

· The parts of the Danish Realm will work towards the introduction of a special regional form of control for a prudent fishery in large ecosystems in sparsely populated areas where there is no historical data and where it is particularly challenging to collect data and carry out control. Methods must be developed for sustainable management in situations of scientific uncertainty, whereby models are developed that support a learning management system based on the precautionary principle.

Maritime safety

The Arctic Strategy also places emphasis on maritime safety. This is a significant concern given the rise in traffic - in particular cruise ships - and the vast maritime areas that Denmark, Greenland and The Faroes collectively have coastguard responsibility over. So the Strategy commits to:

· The Kingdom will promote cooperation with other Arctic states and other key countries with significant maritime interests in major marine policy issues concerning the Arctic, such as maritime safety. Cooperation with other Arctic states must support a sustainable maritime growth, for example by establishing a better knowledge base on navigation in the Arctic.

· The Kingdom will reinforce concrete preventive measures to improve safety of navigation in the Arctic. In particular this involves endeavours, in cooperation with the other Arctic States, for adoption by the IMO of a mandatory Polar Code to ensure high safety levels in Greenland waters, regardless of the

o ships’ nationality and for a requirement that crews have the requisite skills for navigation in Arctic waters.

· To work for the inclusion of requirements in the polar code under IMO auspices that cruise ships coordinate their navigations with the emergency services, including other cruise ships, which could come to the rescue if a maritime incident occurs. The Kingdom will work in the Arctic Council to gather

o knowledge of cruise lines’ own safety standards for navigation in order to promote "best practices" for the navigation of cruise ships in the Arctic, and also consider the need for increased focus on port State control prior to cruise ships sailing to the Arctic.

· The Kingdom will continue preparing new nautical charts for Greenland to avoid maritime accidents in Greenland waters and to support mineral resource activities. The Kingdom will support the surveying of the Greenland waters and cooperation with other coastal states of the Arctic Ocean within the Arctic Hydrographic Commission. Maritime safety must also be supported by ensuring the availability of reliable information on weather, sea and ice in collaboration with other Arctic states, better information about navigation in Greenland waters and the tightening up of port State control of ships sailing to the Arctic, and finally working for the international dissemination hereof.

· The Kingdom will work to introduce binding global rules and standards for navigation in the Arctic and it is a high priority to reach agreement on a global regulation of shipping via the IMO, cf. Ilulissat Declaration. Should it prove that agreement on global rules cannot be reached, and in view of the especially vulnerable Arctic environment and the unique challenges of security, the Kingdom will consider implementing non-discriminatory regional safety and environmental rules for navigation in the Arctic in consultation with the other Arctic states and taking into account international law, including the Convention on the Law of the Sea provisions regarding navigation in ice covered waters.

· The Kingdom will work to strengthen cooperation with neighbouring countries on monitoring, search and rescue, such as supporting the implementation of the joint Arctic cooperation agreement on strengthening coordination and data-sharing in relation to search and rescue, entered into under the auspices of the Arctic Council in May 2011.

· Given the clear correlation between the rise of maritime activity and economic development in the Arctic, efforts will be strengthened to involve Greenland citizens in tasks within areas of maritime safety, such as surveying, buoying, and search and rescue at sea, perhaps by establishing a voluntary coastal rescue service.

· The Kingdom will examine the need for the establishment of new shipping routes, and implement this to the extent it promotes maritime safety and marine protection. For example, there is particular need to establish recognized routes in Faroese waters for both cruise ships, tankers and other vessels with respect to safety and the environment.



The Norwegian Government strongly opposes unrestricted development of the Arctic; has already demonstrated strong environmental, climate, and sustainable management credentials in their own Arctic territories, which they are continuing to build on; and has made it a priority to ensure that similar policies are implemented in the wider Arctic.

The Norwegian Government use the term High North rather than the Arctic: it is a political concept, rather than a geographic area. But roughly in geographic terms, the High North covers the Norwegian Sea and land including islands and archipelagos (eg Svalbard and Jan Mayen) north of the southern boundary of Nordland county in Norway and eastwards from the Greenland Sea to the Barents and Pechora Sea. Norway has jurisdiction over for a marine area seven times larger than its land area.

The Government’s vision for the High North is set out in its High North Strategy (first published in 2006) and most recently updated in the document "The High North – Visions and Strategies" in November 2011. The Norwegian government state that "the High North will be Norway’s most important strategic priority area in the years ahead. The Government will intensify efforts to exercise Norwegian sovereignty and ensure sustainable management of the rich fisheries and energy reserves in the region, protect the environment, maintain settlement patterns and promote business development. The Law of the Sea gives Norway jurisdiction over substantial resources which also mean that Norway has a major responsibility for sound management of these areas."

It is in the interests of Norway to ensure that unregulated development of the Arctic does not take place; and the Norwegian Government has established itself as one of the leaders in ensuring that development in their own, and the wider Arctic, is well regulated.

Regulation of oil and gas activities

The Norwegian Government has prioritised the safe development of oil and gas resources in their Arctic waters.  Safety standards for petroleum activities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf are high.

The Ministry of Labour/Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) are responsible for the regulations relating to, and supervision of, both technical and operational safety, as well as the working environment in the offshore petroleum activities and certain land facilities.  The PSA monitors risk development in the petroleum activities in several different ways including risk mapping work related to major accidents and working environment.

In the Petroleum White Paper of June 2011, the Government differentiates between normal and acute discharges to the sea.  Acute discharges are spills of oil, chemicals or drilling fluids that are not planned, and not approved by the Climate and Pollution Agency. Under the Pollution Control Act, the operating companies are both responsible for and have a duty to establish necessary emergency preparedness to deal with acute pollution. The great majority of acute discharges in Norway have been small. A total of 452 acute discharges of crude oil have been reported on the Norwegian Shelf from 2001 to 2009. 439 of these end up in the lowest category, 0 to 10 tonnes. In 2010 there were 139 acute discharges of oil, of which 132 were less than one cubic metre (the total volume of all the discharges was 105 cubic metres).

The Government considers oil spill preparedness as important in reducing the consequences of potential major acute discharges. The Climate and Pollution Agency sets requirements for oil spill preparedness, and the operating companies are responsible for combating oil spills from petroleum facilities on the seabed or the sea surface. This responsibility includes strategic management.

The Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies (NOFO), on behalf of the operators, is responsible for strategic and operational management of the oil spill response resources that are used. NOFO establishes and safeguards oil spill preparedness on the Norwegian Shelf in order to combat oil pollution on behalf of 25 operating companies, both in open waters, in coastal areas and in the beach zone. Both public and private sector oil spill resources are combined in the Norwegian preparedness model.

The cooperation between municipal and state oil spill preparedness and NOFO means that Norway’s overall emergency preparedness resources are available 24/7. The Norwegian Coastal Administration handles the State’s responsibility for acute preparedness and will supervise oil spill campaigns.

With the expansion of oil and gas activities into environmentally sensitive Arctic areas, in 2003 the Government set stricter requirements for discharges to sea in the Barents Sea.  Petroleum activities were to be carried out with zero discharges to sea during normal operations, represented by zero discharges to sea of produced water and drilling fluid/cuttings from drilling operations. This policy was adjusted in the 2011 update to the management plan for the marine environment in the Barents Sea and the waters off Lofoten.  In the future, regular discharges to sea from the petroleum activities in this management plan area will be regulated in the same manner as petroleum activities on the other parts of the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

The "High North" strategy states that "the Government will facilitate the sound utilisation of the oil and gas resources of the High North." At the national level, Norway is conducting a "knowledge gathering" process to evaluate potential impacts of petroleum activities before opening for exploration certain environmentally sensitive Arctic areas such as the Lofoten Islands. At the regional level, the strategy states that Norway will support negotiating efforts to strengthen oil spill response in the Arctic including a status report to the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in 2013.

Wider maritime management

Norway has put in place management plans to ensure the long term integrated management of their sea areas and encourage value creation within a framework that maintains the structure, functioning and productivity of their ecosystems. The High North Strategy states that "climate change, ocean acidification and increasing levels of activity will all give rise to new challenges for the authorities responsible for environmental and natural resource management, and they will have to meet new demands for knowledge and adaption. Norway must therefore develop its knowledge-based environmental and resource management regime. We need to succeed in this so that the inevitable processes of change do not cause degradation to important habitats and ecosystems or depletion of living resources.

The management plan for the Barents Sea- Lofoten area was the first management plan developed for a Norwegian sea area. It was a ground breaking effort (with significant NGO input) putting the concept of an integrated ecosystem based management regime into practice and provided the starting point work on integrated management plans for other Norwegian sea areas. The work has attracted international attention and provided a model for regional cooperation. Norway and Russia cooperate on long term management strategies for the shared fish stocks in the Barents Sea based on Norway’s precautionary principle that cumulative environmental effects must be assessed.

Sound environmental and natural resource management also requires closer cooperation between Arctic states and with other states and actors that are engaged in activities in the High North. Cooperation within the framework of the Arctic Council and the further development of cooperation with Russia on fisheries and marine management in the Barents Sea are of key importance.

Norway has systematically built up centres of expertise that are well placed to develop and disseminate new knowledge, which forms the essential basis for management of the environment and natural resources. The Centre for Climate Dynamics at the Bjerkness Centre for Climate Research, the research communities associated with the University of Tromsø and the Fram Centre, the University of Nordland, CICERO (the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo) and others put Norway in a good position to play a prominent role in international research cooperation. Svalbard is a unique platform for national and international polar research with advanced scientific infrastructure in Ny-Ålesund and the University Centre in Svalbard. The environment of the High North is very vulnerable and there are serious problems related to inputs of long range pollutants and to hazardous waste, including nuclear waste, on the Russian side of the border. The situation has been improved through international cooperation (including UK/ Norwegian work at Andreeva Bay) but a clear focus on these problems must be maintained in the years ahead to ensure that economic and industrial activity is within safe ecological limits".

This international cooperation includes UK Norwegian cooperation to decommission the Soviet nuclear submarine arsenal at Andreeva Bay. The High North strategy states that the Norwegian Government "is seeking to ensure that Norway is the best steward of the environment" and lists current achievements and future priorities to achieve this. These include:

- "A Management Plan for the Norwegian Sea and an updated management plan for the marine environment of the Barents-Lofoten area have been drawn up.

- Jan Mayen and its territorial waters have been protected as a nature reserve and the Bjørnøya nature reserve has been extended to the 12 nautical mile territorial limit.

- A prohibition on the use of heavy bunker oil by ships sailing in the protected areas of Svalbard has been introduced.

- The new act relating to the management of biological, geological and landscape diversity (The Nature Diversity Act) has been passed.

- 5300 km2 of the seabed has been mapped under the MAREANO programme in the Barents Sea-Lofoten management plan area.

- The research initiative on the impacts of climate change on fish stocks, ecosystems and aquaculture has been continued, for example within the framework of a research programme under the Institute of Marine Research.

- Efforts to build up knowledge on the management of wild living marine resources within the framework of broad based cooperation programmes involving various institutions have been intensified.

- A joint Norwegian/Russian report on the status of the environment in the Barents Sea has been drawn up and work has started on joint environmental monitoring activities."

Future priorities include

- "Follow up national targets and international commitments related to the climate and environment and continue to set high environmental and security standards based on the precautionary principle, the provisions of the Nature Diversity Act and the Svalbard Environment Protection Act.

- Continue to play a leading role in developing an integrated ecosystem based marine management regimes and encourage all countries with jurisdiction over sea areas adjacent to Norwegian areas to develop integrated management plans.

- Work towards the inclusion of climate change adaptation as a key topic for the Arctic Council and other cooperation forums in the High North, and towards the development of Arctic climate change adaptation strategies.

- Establish targeted global and regional cooperation to ensure protection of particularly vulnerable areas and species.

- Take steps to reduce emissions of short lived climate forcers in the High North.

- Seek to ensure that knowledge about climate change in the High North is disseminated and given priority in international climate negotiations.

- Strengthen cooperation with Russia on the marine environment with a view to establishing an integrated monitoring programme for the Barents Sea.

- Aim to complete mapping of the seabed of the Barents Sea – Lofoten area by 2020.

- Cooperate with Finland on measures for sustainable fisheries and to rebuild the weak salmon stocks in the Tana river system".



Presented to the Parliament in 2010, Finland’s Strategy for the Arctic Region discusses the Arctic policy from the perspectives of the region’s security, environment, economy, infrastructure, indigenous peoples, international institutions and the European Union’s Arctic policy. The key points of the Strategy deal with the utilisation of Finland’s Arctic know-how, research, strengthening of the Arctic Council and development of the EU’s Arctic policy.

The strategy sets out from the fact that changes in the Arctic region require change in Finnish thinking on the region’s potential. Much of Finland’s surface is in the subarctic climate zone and Finland is one of the northernmost countries in the world.


Environmental issues are at the heart of the Finnish approach. Climate change and its consequences, along with increased shipping and use of natural resources in the Arctic are listed as main environmental threats. Objectives are to draw attention to the special features of the environmental problems in the Arctic Region, including in international climate change negotiations and formulation of EU positions. A special issue is nuclear safety, especially in the Kola Peninsula.

Economy and Arctic know-how

Finland sees the Arctic Region as having considerable economic potential that could be of benefit to Finland. Increased shipping and exploitation of natural resources in the region provide Finland with an opportunity to make use of its Arctic know-how. This applies especially to winter shipping and ship building. Finland sees also that close relations with and knowledge of Russia is a competitive advantage.

Indigenous people.

The indigenous Sami people habit Finland’s Northern parts. A core element of the Finnish approach is to ensure the participation of indigenous people in the handling of Arctic affairs, including securing funding for the efficient participation and enhanced role of indigenous people in the work of the Arctic Council and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.

International cooperation and the EU.

Finns see the Arctic Council as the primary forum for Arctic matters. As Finland does not have a coast line in North, they stress the inclusiveness of the Council. Finland also stresses the need for more EU attention to the Arctic Region and the use of the Northern Dimension and its Arctic Window. Finland stresses the role of the EU’s interregional and cross-border cooperation.

Locally in Finland, The Advisory Board on Arctic Affairs, appointed by the Government, plays the central role in following up the Strategy’s goals. Finland’s Ambassador for Arctic issues is Mr Hannu Halinen.



This text is drawn from the Icelandic Government’s website

Iceland’s Arctic policy encompasses the following twelve principles aimed at securing Icelandic interests with regard to the effects of climate change, environmental issues, natural resources, navigation and social development as well as strengthening relations and cooperation with other States and stakeholders on the issues facing the region:

Promoting and strengthening the Arctic Council as the most important consultative forum on Arctic issues and working towards having international decisions on Arctic issues made there.

Securing Iceland's position as a coastal State within the Arctic region as regards influencing its development as well as international decisions on regional issues on the basis of legal, economic, ecological and geographical arguments. This will among other things be based on the fact that since the northern part of the Icelandic Exclusive Economic Zone falls within the Arctic and extends to the Greenland Sea adjoining the Arctic Ocean, Iceland has both territory and rights to sea areas north of the Arctic Circle. The Government shall in parallel develop the arguments which support this objective, in cooperation with relevant institutions.

Promoting understanding of the fact that the Arctic region extends both to the North Pole area proper and the part of the North Atlantic Ocean which is closely connected to it. The Arctic should not be limited to a narrow geographical definition but rather be viewed as an extensive area when it comes to ecological, economic, political and security matters.

Resolving differences that relate to the Arctic on the basis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Convention establishes a legal framework for ocean affairs and contains, inter alia, provisions on navigation, fisheries, exploitation of oil, gas and other natural resources on the continental shelf, maritime delimitation, ocean pollution prevention, marine scientific research and dispute settlement applicable to all sea areas, including the Arctic region.

Strengthening and increasing cooperation with the Faroe Islands and Greenland with the aim of promoting the interests and political position of the three countries.

Supporting the rights of indigenous peoples in the Arctic in close cooperation with indigenous organisations and supporting their direct involvement in decisions on regional issues.

Building on agreements and promoting cooperation with other States and stakeholders on issues relating to Icelandic interests in the Arctic region.

To use all available means to prevent human-induced climate change and its effects in order to improve the wellbeing of Arctic residents and their communities. Iceland will concentrate its efforts fully on ensuring that increased economic activity in the Arctic region will contribute to sustainable utilisation of resources and observe responsible handling of the fragile ecosystem and the conservation of biota. Furthermore, to contribute to the preservation of the unique culture and way of life of indigenous peoples which has developed in the Arctic region.

Safeguarding broadly defined security interests in the Arctic region through civilian means and working against any kind of militarisation of the Arctic. Iceland’s cooperation with other States should be strengthened on the protection of research, observation capabilities, search and rescue, as well as pollution prevention in the Arctic region, inter alia to protect Icelandic interests in the areas of environmental protection, social wellbeing and sustainable use of natural resources.

Developing further trade relations between States in the Arctic region and thereby laying the groundwork for Icelanders to compete for the opportunities created as a result of increased economic activity in the Arctic region.

Advancing Icelanders' knowledge of Arctic issues and promoting Iceland abroad as a venue for meetings, conferences and discussions on the Arctic region. Institutions, research centres and educational establishments in Iceland working on Arctic issues should be promoted and strengthen in cooperation with other States and international organisations.

Increasing consultations and cooperation at the domestic level on Arctic issues to ensure increased knowledge of the importance of the Arctic region, democratic discussion and solidarity on the implementation of the Government's Arctic policy.



Russia’s formal Arctic Strategy is an amalgamation of commitments to defend, develop and further research the Arctic. It has commitments to ecological security, scientific development and international co-operation, and prioritises UNCLOS territorial claims, peaceful cooperation via the Arctic and Barents Euro-Arctic Councils, natural resources, Northern Sea Route, and military security.

The Strategy’s headline goal is for the Arctic to become Russia’s primary resource base by 2020, meeting demand for hydrocarbons and other strategic resources (e.g. nickel and cobalt). To this end, it sets out priorities for social and economic development; military security; ecological security; information technology; science and technology, and international co-operation.

Science and climate change

There are clear commitments to protect the region’s ecosystems, as well as to study the effects of climate change and other man-made phenomena on the environment.  The strategy envisages the introduction of new technology to clean up the environment and recycle harmful waste.

The stages of Russia’s development of the Arctic region are plotted along a timeline:

· 2008-2010: Russia will continue work on delimitation of its Arctic borders (through international dialogue) and establish the economic foundations for its long-term presence in the Arctic;

· 2011-2015: Arctic borders will be formalised and Russia will achieve a "competitive advantage" in the extraction and transport of energy resources; and

· 2016-2020: the Arctic will become Russia’s leading resource base.


Russia’s key interest is energy. Gazprom is focused on developing two areas. Gas from the Yamal peninsula is predicted to become a key source of Russian gas production by 2016. Shtokman, 560km offshore in the Barents Sea, will come on-stream between 2015 and 2019. The Ministry of Energy forecasts that gas from the Arctic Circle will make up 30% of Russian output by 2020 - 33% of Russia’s undiscovered gas reserves are thought to lie under the Barents Sea. But the climate, lack of infrastructure and technological challenges may prevent this ambition from being realised.

Climate Change

Concerns over climate change and the effect that this will have on existing infrastructure (especially energy related) have grown over the last two years. While some within the Russian system are working to mitigate the risks, the conventional wisdom among Arctic policy makers remains though that the gains from climate change (improved cargo transportation routes and easier access to the Arctic shelf) outweigh the risks.


In 2007 Russia staked a symbolic claim to Arctic seabed by dropping a canister containing the Russian flag on the ocean floor from a small submarine at the North Pole. The aim of the wider mission was to gather scientific evidence to support Russia’s UNCLOS claims. Russia first submitted its claim in 2001 to the United Nations, but it was sent back for lack of evidence. Russia said it will resubmit the claim after collecting more scientific data.



Canada launched its Northern Strategy in July 2009. The Canadian Government has set out a clear vision for the North, in which:

- self-reliant individuals live in healthy, vital communities, manage their own affairs and shape their own destinies;

- the Northern tradition of respect for the land and the environment is paramount and the principles of responsible and sustainable development anchor all decision-making and action;

- strong, responsible, accountable governments work together for a vibrant, prosperous future for all – a place whose people and governments are significant contributing partners to a dynamic, secure Canadian federation;

- Canadians patrol and protect their territory through enhanced presence on the land, in the sea and over the skies of the Arctic.

The Northern Strategy delivers this vision through focusing on four priorities:

1. exercising Arctic sovereignty;

2. promoting social and economic development;

3. protecting the environment;

4. improving and devolving Northern governance

Exercising Arctic sovereignty

The strategy states that Canada will maintain a strong presence in the North, further develop its knowledge of the region and enhance its stewardship, and define its domain. To that end, they are:

- establishing an Army Training Centre in Resolute Bay on the shore of the Northwest Passage, and expanding and modernizing the Canadian Rangers;

- establishing a deep-water berthing and fueling facility in Nanisivik and procuring a new polar icebreaker;

- investing in new patrol ships capable of sustained operations in first-year ice. These ships will be able to patrol the length of the Northwest Passage during the navigable season and its approaches year-round;

- continuing to undertake operations in the North, such as Operation NANOOK, conducting regular patrols for surveillance and security purposes, monitoring and controlling Northern airspace as part of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and maintaining the signals intelligence receiving facility at CFS Alert, the most northern permanently inhabited settlement in the world;

- continuing to explore options for cost-effective Arctic monitoring systems, building on the current Northern Watch Technology Demonstration Project;

- introducing new ballast water control regulations that will reduce the risk of vessels releasing harmful aquatic species and pathogens into Canadian waters. They have also amended the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act to extend the application of the Act to 200 nautical miles from the Canadian coastline, the full extent of their exclusive economic zone as recognised under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS);

- establishing new regulations under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 to require all vessels entering Canadian Arctic waters to report to the Canadian Coast Guard's NORDREG reporting system;

- working with Northern communities and governments to further develop their search and rescue capacity.

- conducting scientific studies to determine the full extent of their continental shelf as defined under UNCLOS . This research will ensure Canada secures recognition for the maximum extent of its continental shelf in both the Arctic and Atlantic oceans when they present their submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf by the end of 2013.

Promoting Social and Economic Development

A new economic development agency for the North (CanNor) has been established. One of its core activities is to deliver the renewed Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development program.

Furthermore, the government is supporting the sustainable development of resources, recognising that mining and (for instance) gas projects are the key to prosperous aboriginal and Northern communities. The Aboriginal Pipeline Group supports Aboriginal participation in the developing economy, most notably through an ownership position in the Mackenzie Gas Project. Efforts such as the Northern Regulatory Improvement Initiative are helping resolve the complex approval process for development projects, to ensure new projects can get up and running quickly and efficiently. The Canadian Government has also announced a geo-mapping effort which will locate areas of mineral and petroleum potential, leading to greater private sector exploration investment and further employment opportunities in the North.

The Government is providing increased funding for tourism promotion and for local and community cultural and heritage institutions, and annual unconditional funding of almost $2.5 billion to the territories through Territorial Formula Financing. This enables territorial governments to fund programs and services such as hospitals, schools, infrastructure and social services. They are also addressing the need for housing, health care, skills development and other services through targeted investments. And the territories receive federal support for targeted initiatives to address specific challenges in the North, such as labour market training, infrastructure and community development, and clean air and climate change.

Protecting the Environment

Canada made the largest single contribution to International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008, the largest-ever global program dedicated to polar research. IPY scientific research focused on climate change impact and adaptation, and the health and wellbeing of Northerners and Northern communities. They are also committed to establishing a new world-class research station in the High Arctic. An Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund has been established to upgrade other key research facilities across the North.

Work is underway on a number of conservation initiatives such as the creation of new national parks in the East Arm of Great Slave Lake and in the Sahtú Settlement Area.

The Health of the Oceans initiative strengthens the ability of Northern communities to respond to pollution and fosters greater cooperation with domestic and global partners for integrated ecosystems-based oceans management. Canada is also establishing a national marine conservation area in Lancaster Sound. Transport Canada continues to assess Canada's capacity to respond to marine pollution in the Arctic and ensure that the Canadian Coast Guard and communities have the necessary equipment and response systems in place for emergencies.

They have also embarked on clean-up programs to repair or remediate environmental damage at abandoned mines and other contaminated sites throughout the North. Any company now undertaking industrial development in the North must undertake a rigorous environmental assessment and establish a site closure and remediation plan, meet standards for operational and environmental safety and satisfy the requirements of various laws including the Fisheries Act .

Improving Northern Governance

Through land claim and self-government agreements, Aboriginal communities are developing their own policies and strategies to address their unique economic and social challenges and opportunities. 11 of 14 Yukon First Nations have signed self-government agreements. A majority of the Northwest Territories is covered by Comprehensive Land Claims Agreements that give Aboriginal people the authority to manage their lands and resources. The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement led to the creation of Canada's newest territory in 1999, providing Inuit of the Eastern Arctic with some 350,000 square kilometers in the largest Aboriginal land claim settlement in Canadian history.

Similar progress has been made on agreements with Inuit living in Labrador and in the Nunavik region of Northern Quebec. To build on this progress, Canada and the territories are working closely with First Nations, Métis and Inuit to address pressing issues, implement past agreements and conclude new ones – including outstanding land claims and self-government agreements – more quickly.



The United States’ strategy, launched in 2009 is clear that the US is an Arctic nation, with varied and compelling interests in that region. The strategy takes into account several developments, including: altered national policies on homeland security and defence; the effects of climate change and increasing human activity; the ongoing work of the Arctic Council; and growing awareness that the Arctic region is both fragile and rich in resources.

The strategy confirms that it is the policy of the United States to:

· Meet national security and homeland security needs relevant to the Arctic region;

· Protect the Arctic environment and conserve its biological resources;

· Ensure that natural resource management and economic development in the region are environmentally sustainable;

· Strengthen institutions for cooperation among the Arctic nations

· Involve the Arctic's indigenous communities in decisions that affect them; and

· Enhance scientific monitoring and research into local, regional, and global environmental issues.


The strategy notes that the United States has broad and fundamental national

security interests in the Arctic region. The focus is on developing appropriate

capability and capacity; preserving mobility; projecting maritime presence and

encouraging the peaceful resolution of disputes.

International governance

The strategy notes the variety of international organisations and bilateral contacts that support US interests, and the importance of keeping such engagement under review and the need for new international arrangements. The strategy notes the value of the Arctic Council, but is clear that it should remain a high-level forum, and not be transferred to a formal international organisation. There is no support for an ‘Arctic Treaty’ along the lines of the Antarctic Treaty.

Extended continental shelf and boundaries

The strategy confirms that defining with certainty the area of the Arctic seabed and subsoil in which the United States may exercise its sovereign rights over natural resources such as oil, natural gas, methane hydrates, minerals, and living marine species is critical to its national interests.

It argues that the most effective way to achieve international recognition and legal certainty for an extended US continental shelf is through the procedure available to States Parties to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. So amongst other action, the strategy re-states the position of seeking advice and consent of the Senate to accede to the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.

International scientific cooperation

The policy says that scientific research is vital for the promotion of United States interests in the Arctic region. The focus is on: actively promoting full and appropriate access by scientists to research sites; establishing an effective Arctic circumpolar observing network; promoting regular meetings of science ministers; and promoting research that is strategically linked to US policies.

Maritime transportation

The United States priorities for maritime transportation in the Arctic region are: safe,

secure, and reliable navigation; protecting maritime commerce; and protecting the


Working through the International Maritime Organization, the United States will

promotes strengthening existing measures and developing new

measures to improve the safety and security of maritime transportation, as well as to

protect the marine environment in the Arctic region.

The focus is on: developing additional measures, in cooperation with other nations, to address issues from expected increase in shipping; putting in place a risk-based approach to environmental hazards and search and rescue capability; developing new Arctic waterways management regimes, including monitoring; and evaluating the feasibility of using access through the Arctic for strategic sealift and humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

Economic issues and energy

The strategy notes that sustainable development in the Arctic region poses particular

challenges. Stakeholder input will inform key decisions as the United States seeks to

promote economic and energy security. Climate change and other factors are

significantly affecting the lives of Arctic inhabitants, particularly indigenous

communities. The implementation focus is on:

· increasing efforts, including those in the Arctic Council, to study changing climate conditions, with a view to preserving and enhancing economic opportunity in the region;

· working with other Arctic nations to ensure that hydrocarbon and other development in the Arctic region is carried out in accordance with accepted best practices and internationally recognized standards;

· consult with other Arctic nations to discuss issues related to exploration, production, environmental and socioeconomic impacts; and

· continuing to emphasize cooperative mechanisms with nations operating in the region to address shared concerns, recognizing that most known Arctic oil and gas resources are located outside of United States jurisdiction.

Environmental Protection and Conservation of Natural Resources

The strategy notes that the Arctic environment is unique and changing and that increased human activity is expected to bring additional stressors to the Arctic environment, with potentially serious consequences for Arctic communities and ecosystems. Arctic environmental research, monitoring, and vulnerability assessments are top priorities in order for US policy to be risk-based and on the basis of the best available information. The focus includes:

· cooperation with other nations, responding effectively to increased pollutants and other environmental challenges;

· continue to identify ways to conserve, protect, and sustainably manage Arctic species and ensure adequate enforcement presence to safeguard living marine resources, taking account of the changing ranges or distribution of some species in the Arctic;

· develop ways to address changing and expanding commercial fisheries in the Arctic, including through consideration of international agreements or organizations to govern future Arctic fisheries;

· pursue marine ecosystem-based management in the Arctic; and

· intensify efforts to develop scientific information on the adverse effects of pollutants on human health and the environment and work with other nations to reduce the introduction of key pollutants into the Arctic.



The purpose of the Government's Strategy for the Arctic Region, launched in 2011, is to present Sweden's relationship with the Arctic, together with the current priorities and future outlook for their Arctic policy, proceeding from an international perspective. It specifies how, and through which international cooperation bodies and bilateral channels, the Government will seek to achieve its objectives for the Arctic. Finally, it discusses the top priorities in the strategy's three thematic areas: climate and the environment, economic development, and the human dimension. It is the first strategy the Government of Sweden has adopted on the Arctic as a whole, and should be seen as a starting point for further development of cooperation in the region. Sweden also currently has the two-year Chairmanship of the Arctic Council

The Strategy notes that the Arctic region is in a process of far-reaching change. Climate change is creating new challenges, but also opportunities, on which Sweden must take a position and exert an influence. New conditions are emerging for shipping, hunting, fishing, trade and energy extraction, and alongside this new needs are arising for an efficient infrastructure. New types of cross-border flows will develop. This will lead state and commercial actors to increase their presence, which will result in new relationships. Moreover, deeper Nordic and European cooperation means that Sweden is increasingly affected by other countries' policies and priorities in the Arctic. The strategy is clear that Sweden's interest is in ensuring that new emerging activities are governed by common and robust regulatory frameworks and above all that they focus on environmental sustainability.


Sweden will work to ensure that the Arctic remains a region where security policy tensions are low. In bilateral and multilateral contexts, Sweden should emphasize the importance of an approach based on a broad concept of security, and that the use of civil instruments is preferable to military means. The role of the Arctic Council as the central multilateral forum for Arctic issues should be strengthened. The Council should be more active in developing common policies and practical projects for the benefit of the region. Sweden will actively contribute to the ongoing development of an EU policy on Arctic issues. Advantage must be taken of cooperation and synergies between the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) and the Arctic Council, as well as with the various EU cooperation programmes and the means at their disposal. In the Nordic Council of Ministers, Sweden will work to give projects with an Arctic orientation increased focus. Activities and cooperation in the Arctic must be conducted in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other relevant international agreements.

Environment and climate change

Sweden wants to promote economically, socially and environmentally sustainable development throughout the Arctic region. Sweden will work for substantially reduced global emissions of greenhouse gases and short-lived climate forcers. In cooperation with other Arctic countries, Sweden will contribute to data and proposals for action to strengthen the long-term capacity of Arctic communities and environments and their adaptation to a changed climate. This will increase resilience to climate change and create conditions for long-term sustainable development in the region. Emissions of persistent bio-accumulative organic pollutants need to be reduced. Sweden will contribute to the preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the Arctic. Environmental impact assessments and environmental assessments should be used to a greater extent. Networks of protected areas for flora and fauna should be established in the Barents region and elsewhere. Sweden will continue to be a leading research nation in the climate and environmental fields and will focus on the human impact of climate change.


Sweden's growth and competitiveness stand to benefit from increased free trade and active efforts to counter technical barriers to trade in the Arctic region. Sweden will work to ensure that the anticipated extraction of oil, gas and other natural resources occurs in an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable manner. It is important that the development of regional cross-border cooperation in the area of sea and air rescue continues. More stringent safety requirements must be imposed for maritime transportation and, in various sectors, use must be made of Sweden's environmental technology expertise. The Swedish Trade Council offices in Denmark, Norway, Finland, Russia, the United States and Canada, and in northern Sweden, should be instructed to build up skills to promote Swedish commercial interests in the Arctic. The tourism sector should be developed, albeit with consideration for the environment and the traditional lifestyles of indigenous peoples. Communications between tourist destinations should be improved in a sustainable manner. Swedish icebreakers are uniquely qualified to support Arctic research and monitor the vulnerable marine environment.

Human rights and social development

Sweden will work to bring the human dimension and the gender perspective to the fore in Arctic-related cooperation bodies. Measures will be needed to counteract the negative health and social impacts of climate change, pollutants and the expected increase in the exploitation of Arctic natural resources. The right of indigenous peoples to maintain and develop their identity, culture, knowledge transfer and traditional trades must be upheld. The Sami languages and other indigenous Arctic languages must be preserved. The Sami research programme should use Arctic-related cooperation projects to amplify the impact of research activities.

9 February 2012

[1] See

[2] The ‘ice extent’ is defined as the area of ocean covered by sea ice with a concentration of greater than 15%.

[3] ‘Ice-free’ Arctic is defined as the state when the central Arctic contains an ice extent less than one million square kilometres in the month of September.



[6] USGS release of 23 July 2008

Prepared 24th February 2012