Arctic Council

The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the eight Arctic States, six Arctic indigenous communities in six working groups on specific issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. Finland has chaired the Arctic Council twice, most recently from 2017-2019. Iceland holds the Chairmanship from May 2019 to May 2021.

Members of the Arctic Council are: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States. In addition, six organizations representing Arctic Indigenous peoples have status as Permanent Participants. The category of Permanent Participant was created to provide for active participation and full consultation with the Arctic Indigenous peoples within the Council. The work of the Council is primarily carried out in the six Working Groups. Vice-president Research Arja Rautio is the Finnish nominated member of two health groups (AHHEG, HHAG) under Sustainable Development Working Group and Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Working Group. 

The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) monitors the Arctic environment, ecosystems and human populations, and provides scientific advice to support governments as they tackle pollution and the adverse effects of climate change. AMAP's work is directed by the Ministers of the Arctic Council and their Senior Arctic Officials, who have requested AMAP also support the international processes that work to reduce global threats from contaminants and climate change. This includes the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UNEP's Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and Minimata Convention on mercury, and the United Nation's Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE) Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution. 

The Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) works to advance sustainable development in the Arctic and to improve the conditions of Arctic communities as a whole. The Terms of Reference for the SDWG were formally adopted at the Arctic Council Ministers’ Meeting in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada in September 1998. The goal of the Sustainable Development program of the Arctic Council is to propose and adopt steps to be taken by the Arctic States to advance sustainable development in the Arctic.  This includes pursuing opportunities to protect and enhance the environment and the economies, culture and health of indigenous peoples and Arctic communities. The guiding tenet running throughout the work of the SDWG is to pursue initiatives that provide practical knowledge and contribute to building the capacity of indigenous peoples and Arctic communities to respond to the challenges and benefits from the opportunities in the Arctic region.



Last updated: 26.11.2019