Press Room

News Releases

  • Arctic Council to host side event at the 2019 Our Ocean Conference

    The Arctic Council will host a side event at this year’s Our Ocean conference in Oslo on 23 October. The side event is themed “A Cleaner Arctic Marine Environment – Battling Marine Debris in the Arctic” and is organized jointly with the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs and two of the Council’s Working Groups: the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme and the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group.

  • First joint meeting between the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council

    The Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council hold their first joint meeting in Reykjavik today, 9 October 2019, bringing together government representatives of the eight Arctic States, business representatives, as well as representatives of the indigenous Permanent Participants, and the Councils’ respective Working Groups. The meeting is a step towards enhancing cooperation and collaboration between the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council, as outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding the secretariats of both Councils signed last May. The discussions in Reykjavik will focus on subject areas of common interest, such as marine transportation and blue economy, telecommunications connectivity, responsible resource development and mainstreaming biodiversity, as well as on responsible investments and corporate social responsibility.

  • Arctic Circle Assembly: Arctic Council Working Groups’ and Permanent Participants’ panels, breakout sessions and events

    Several Arctic Council Working Groups and Indigenous peoples organizations holding Permanent Participant status in the Council are hosting side events at this year’s Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik. See an overview below.

  • Building knowledge and confidence in the Arctic

    Editorial by Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials


    As we learn more about the challenges we face in the Arctic, it becomes clearer by the day that collaboration with partners outside the region is needed in order to effectively tackle them. What is more, non-Arctic states around the globe are waking up to the fact that what happens in and to the Arctic has direct and widespread effects on them.

  • Planning for a greener Arctic future

    The Arctic Community Energy Planning and Implementation Toolkit

    Arctic winters tend to be long and, in many places, extremely cold. Energy use in Arctic communities therefore can be very high, making reliable and affordable electricity and heating a priority. Today, many Arctic communities rely almost exclusively on fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation. These fuels can come from local sources or be shipped in by land, sea, or air – and those transportation methods bring still more challenges and costs. Thus, there is a growing need, desire, and opportunity for communities to develop clean energy projects.

  • Increased warming pushing Arctic freshwater ecosystems to the brink

    The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Working Group has released the first circumpolar assessment of freshwater biodiversity across the Arctic. The State of the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Report, which was presented to Ministers at the Rovaniemi Ministerial meeting in May 2019, provides a synthesis of the state of knowledge about biodiversity in Arctic freshwater ecosystems (e.g., lakes, rivers, and associated wetlands). It finds that Arctic lakes and rivers are losing the ability to sustain their current level and diversity of Arctic freshwater species.

  • A closer look at sea ice: An interview with AMAP expert Sebastian Gerland

    Sebastian Gerland is a geophysicist at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø. As a specialist for sea ice and climate, he has contributed to several projects and reports of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). In this interview, Sebastian speaks about the shrinking Arctic sea ice cover and why its important to not just look at the annual minimum extent to understand trends and effects of a changing Arctic.

  • PAME releases first ‘plastic in a bottle’

    The Arctic Council’s Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) Working Group launched the first bottle equipped with a GPS transmitter into the Atlantic on 12 September 2019. Called “plastic in a bottle”, the capsule will simulate how marine litter and plastics travel far distances into and out of Arctic waters. The collected data will serve as an outreach tool to create awareness around the growing concerns on marine litter in the Arctic. This first plastic in a bottle was sent off from the Reykjanes peninsula by Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Iceland’s Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources from the Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Thor in conjunction with the PAME Working Group meeting in Reykjavík. Iceland currently holds the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council until 2021 and places a special focus on marine litter and plastics in the Arctic.

  • A source for Arctic optimism: The Blue Bioeconomy

    Editorial by Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials


    The blue bioeconomy is and will be a major contributor to achieving sustainable development in the Arctic and beyond. The term “blue bioeconomy” refers to innovation potentials in utilizing and creating new marine products with the help of new unconventional processing methods. It is therefore also one of today’s main sources for great optimism for our region, especially given the Arctic Council’s specific focus on sustainable development and environmental protection.

  • Put into reality: EPPR looks into the VIKING SKY incident

    At its first Working Group meeting during the Icelandic Chairmanship, the Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) Working Group held a workshop on the VIKING SKY incident – a cruise liner that got into distress off the Southern Norwegian coast. Authorities involved in the rescue operation in March 2019 shared their experiences and lessons learned with EPPR delegates. Quickly the questions arose: How would this incident have played out in the high Arctic?

  • Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative: a global partnership for Arctic-breeding migratory birds

    At the most recent Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting (Rovaniemi, 6-7 May 2019), the Ministers of the Arctic States approved the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna’s (CAFF) Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) Work Plan 2019-2023. This ambitious plan provides the strategic framework and guidance for cooperation to conserve populations of Arctic breeding migratory birds experiencing alarming population decline.

  • Wildfires don’t respect territorial boundary lines

    The Arctic is experiencing its worst wildfire season on record, affecting the environment and communities in the circumpolar North and beyond. Amongst the most affected are people in the Gwich’in territories in Alaska. They face a future of intensified wildfire seasons – and call upon the Arctic States to collaborate on both mitigation and emergency response measures. Edward Alexander is a member of the Gwich’in Council International (GCI), and in this interview he speaks about the impacts of wildfires and the projects GCI has submitted to Arctic Council Working Groups.

  • Interview with Magnús Jóhannesson, the Special Coordinator on Plastics

    Magnús Jóhannesson is the Council’s designated special coordinator on plastics, marine litter. In this interview, the former Director of the Arctic Council Secretariat speaks about the plastics issue in the Arctic, the Arctic Council’s efforts to tackle the issue and his new role within the Icelandic Chairmanship team.

  • New Observer: The International Maritime Organization

    The International Maritime Organization (IMO) was granted Arctic Council Observer status at the 11th Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland, in May 2019. IMO is the United Nations specialized agency responsible for safety and security of shipping and prevention of marine pollution by ships. Its Observer status, the organization states, “will allow IMO to build on the existing cooperation with the Arctic Council and to engage in close collaboration on a range of issues related to shipping in the Arctic”.

  • Interview with CAFF Chair Mark Marissink

    Since May 2019, Mark Marissink chairs the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF). He is the deputy director at the department for Environmental Analysis at the Swedish Environment Protection Agency and has been involved in the work of CAFF for several years. Learn more about Mark Marissink’s background and his ambitions as the Working Group’s new Chair.

  • Interview with SDWG Chair Stefán Skjaldarson

    Stefán Skjaldarson is the new Chair of the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG). Growing up in one of the most remote parts of northeast Iceland, he got to know the scarcities of an Arctic childhood until education and eventually his work in the Foreign Service of Iceland drew him out into the world. Chairing SDWG is a return to the Arctic Council for Stefán Skjaldarson. He was involved in the Rovaniemi Process – a forerunner of today’s Council – and took part in the preparatory meetings for establishing the Arctic Council. In this brief interview, he speaks about experiences and inspiration guiding his work for SDWG over the coming years.

  • First meeting during Iceland's Arctic Council Chairmanship

    On 18-19 June 2019, Arctic Council delegates gathered in Reykjanesbær, Iceland, for the first Senior Arctic Officials’ executive meeting during the Chairmanship of Iceland (2019-2021). Amongst other things, the Senior Arctic Officials, joined by the Permanent Participants and representatives of the Council’s Working Groups, discussed initiatives falling under Iceland’s priority themes.

  • Towards an international symposium on plastics in the Arctic

    In April 2020, the Icelandic government and the Nordic Council of Ministers will host an International Symposium on the Threat of Plastics to the Arctic and Sub-Arctic Marine Environment. The aim of the symposium is to gather the best available knowledge on plastics in the Arctic and to find solutions for tackling the issue. Registration is already possible and the call for abstracts will open on 1 July 2019.

  • Interview with ACAP Chair Inger Johanne Wiese

    Inger Johanne Wiese is the new Chair of the Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP). She works as senior advisor at the Ministry of Climate and Environment Norway in the Department for National Marine Affairs and Pollution Control. In this brief interview, she talks about her background, ACAP’s mandate and projects we should keep an eye on over the next two years.

  • Interview with EPPR Chair Peter Holst-Andersen

    Peter Holst-Andersen is the Chair of the Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) Working Group. He is the only Working Group Chair remaining in his position after Iceland has assumed the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. We revisited some statements he made as he first became EPPR Chair (read his first interview) and asked him for his ambitions and personal favorites.