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Report Calls for Action in Advance of Arctic Council's May 15, 2013 Meeting
Media contact: John Cramer | firstname.lastname@example.org | 603-646-9130
HANOVER, N.H. – May 13, 2013 – Arctic Council nations, which border the planet’s rapidly changing northern region, should urgently adopt shipping rules, improve safeguards against oil spills and create environmental and safety standards in polar waters, according to a report released today by the University of the Arctic's Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy (IACP).
The report is the fifth produced by the IACP, a collaboration between Dartmouth College's Institute of Arctic Studies at the Dickey Center for International Understanding and the University of Alaska Fairbanks,in partnership with the Russia and Eurasia Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), that promotes discussion of critical policy issues facing the circumpolar north as a result of climate change.
"The scientific evidence of climate change and global warming is now irrefutable and the pace of global warming, sea ice melt and permafrost thaw has accelerated," the report said. "The 'new' Arctic and its abundant energy and natural resources are now, more than ever, exposed to development. The Arctic is a region where Russia, Europe and North America, working with indigenous peoples and interested non-Arctic states, have taken initial steps to make the Arctic a peaceful and stable region where productive, sustainable development is achievable. The compelling issue now is how to build, strengthen and sustain this cooperation."
The IACP urged the Arctic Council to expand on the report's recommendations at its May 15 meeting in Sweden. The council is the intergovernmental organization for the eight Arctic States -- Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States.
In anticipation of Council's May 15 meeting, more than 40 leading Arctic scholars, government officials, industry leaders and representatives for indigenous peoples met in Washington, D.C., in February under the auspices of the CEIP to examine key issues facing the region -- energy, health, commercial shipping, security and governance -- and to make recommendations for action.
Because of the many unresolved issues in the region, the IACP's report said the Arctic Council should urge the International Maritime Organization to adopt a mandatory code for ships operating in polar waters and regulations for safe operations of cruise ships; establish an Arctic economic forum to promote public/private partnerships and help resolve issues, such as environmental pollution, involving private sector natural resources development; establish a clearinghouse for information sharing of public and private data on oil spill preparedness, prevention and remediation; and provide more capacity for indigenous peoples and their organizations to research and develop a health care system tailored to their culture.
"The Dickey Center and its Institute of Arctic Studies see IACP as a special forum to foster cooperation among Arctic States, indigenous people's organizations, academics and the private sector," said Ross Virginia, Dartmouth's Myers Family Professor of Environmental Science and director of the Institute of Arctic Studies. "I was greatly encouraged by the meeting’s cooperative tone and its focus on improving the well-being and security of all Arctic peoples."
The report also recommended the Arctic Council encourage cooperation between respective militaries and coast guards in search and rescue and emergency/disaster response, provide better situational awareness for Arctic Ocean shipping safety and prevention of illegal activities and establish an Arctic Maritime Forum to share maritime information.