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Arctic Council meeting of environment ministers ends with talks about future cooperation

Ministry of the Environment 12.10.2018 14.36
Press release

The Arctic Environment Ministers’ meeting held in Rovaniemi 11-12 October ended with discussions about cooperation in addressing climate change, protecting biodiversity and preventing pollution in the Arctic region. The two-day meeting brought together ministers and high-level representatives from the eight Arctic Council States and from six Permanent Participants representing the indigenous peoples of the Arctic. The Observer countries and organisations of the Arctic Council had also been invited.

Many participants noted with grave concern the rapid ongoing changes in the Arctic confirmed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Global Warming. The IPCC acknowledges that the Arctic is warming two to three times faster than the global average. Many countries presented their national actions, including plans to speed up the reductions of the greenhouse gas and black carbon emissions as well as reducing emissions through innovation. Observer states were invited to strengthen their actions to reduce black carbon emissions. The need to increase cooperation on adaptation in order to strengthen the resilience in changing climate was discussed.

Participants welcomed the Agreement to prevent unregulated commercial fishing on the High Seas of the Central Arctic Ocean signed on 3 October in Greenland. In order to strengthen ecosystem resilience in changing conditions, measures and mainstreaming are needed to promote ecosystem-based approaches to management, and conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; cooperation to develop a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in collaboration with indigenous peoples and reduce marine plastic litter was highlighted by many. It was noted that international cooperation is needed to address long-range pollution that ends up in the Arctic region, including new emerging contaminants. The need to strengthen and sustain Arctic monitoring and observations, and use the best available scientific and Indigenous knowledge was discussed.

“On behalf of Finland’s Chairmanship, I wish to thank the Member States, Permanent Participants and Working Groups of the Arctic Council for their valuable inputs in preparing for this meeting and what we have now achieved”, said the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Mr. Kimmo Tiilikainen. Finland also announced its support for international and regional collaboration on reducing black carbon emissions. The preparation of the summary of the meeting by the Finnish Chairmanship will continue in cooperation with the Arctic States and Permanent Participants.

This was the first meeting of the Arctic Council Environment Ministers in five years. The outcome of the meeting, the Chair's summary, will be shared with the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting to be held in May 2019 and contribute to future environmental cooperation of the Arctic Council.

The concept of environmentally sustainable meetings, developed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and WWF Finland, was the key in the meeting arrangements. All the preparations between eight Arctic states, six Permanent Participants and seven Working Groups and Expert Group were arranged by teleconferences and e-mail correspondence. This meant no flights for planning meetings before the AEMM. There were no traditional diplomatic gifts exchanged between the Ministers and Heads of Delegations. Instead, they were given a bird nesting box to be signed and later to be taken by students to the Arctic nesting area in Finnish state-owned multiple-use forests.

Inquiries:

Henna Haapala, Ministerial Adviser, Finnish Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 50 353 3894, firstname.lastname@ym.fi

PLEASE NOTE, press release revised on 23 October 2018:

  • More fluent phrasing inte the third paragraph (ecosystem resilience and marine protected areas)
  • Link to the Chair's Summary added
  • New paragraph about the concept of environmentally sustainable meetings