The preservation of Arctic heritage and the environment is incredibly important for us at Quark Expeditions and we're incredibly grateful for the work done by organizations like the Arctic Council. As their second annual Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) Canadian Chairmanship meeting in Yellowknife approaches, we want to share with you some of the excellent work they've undertaken to ensure the Arctic can be enjoyed for generations to come.
What is the Arctic Council (AC)?
The Arctic Council is a high-level, intergovernmental forum established in 1996, with member states Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US. Their mission is to promote cooperation, coordination and interaction among these Arctic states, to promote sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. AC involves Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants in their many projects, including six working groups dedicated to specific aspects of Arctic preservation.
Canada currently leads the Arctic Council, having assumed the Chairmanship from 2013-2015. The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq serves as Canada's Minister for the Arctic Council. Aglukkaq is herself an Inuk from Nunavut, one of Canada's northern territories.
What Does the Arctic Council Do?
Through their working groups, the Arctic Council brings member states together for research and collaboration on specific projects, like the Arctic Contaminants Action Program. This working group aims to reduce emissions of pollutants into the environment in order to reduce identified pollution risks.
The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) examines and assesses the state of the Arctic region with respect to pollution and climate change, while the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) group has members from each of the Arctic states working as a vehicle to cooperate on species and habitat management and information sharing.
Other working groups include Protection of Arctic Marine Environment (PAME), the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG), and the Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response (EPPR) group, which concentrates on potential environmental emergencies in the Arctic.
Much of the Arctic Council's work focuses on research and awareness, helping government leaders and other organizations to make more informed decisions about Arctic policy. Status and Trends in Arctic Biodiversity, a 20-minute documentary (below) from CAFF and the Arctic Council, is a great example of the initiatives they're undertaking to promote a sustainable Arctic environment:
What Can You Do?
Our team at Quark Expeditions care deeply about Arctic protection and the preservation of the beautiful, often remote areas we are fortunate to visit with passengers. In fact, many of our team members are also scientists, historians, teachers and polar region experts.
Biologist Fabrice Genevois, for example, has traveled the polar regions extensively over the last 17 years, from the Northeast Passages to the Canadian High Arctic including Ellesmere Island and the geographic North Pole. Expedition leader Alex McNeil has completed over 50 expeditions and has an interest in geology, ornithology and marine biology; he collects rare, first edition polar history books from the early 20th century.
The polar regions are places to be completely passionate about. If you care about the preservation of the Arctic like we do, you can make monetary donations to help fund Arctic initiatives through well-known organizations like the World Wildlife Fund. Or, visit the Arctic Council website for news, research and insight into the Arctic environment, people and oceans – and the work being done to ensure their protection.