GRID Polar Division News

Seminar on MEAs and their relevance to the Arctic, 21-22 September 2006 in Arendal, Norway

The main objective of the seminar is to identify opportunities for using the global and regional Multilateral Environmental Agreements as policy tools to strengthen environment management to support sustainable development in the Arctic region and minimize negative global impact from Arctic environmental change

Please see the Seminar on Multilateral Environmental Agreements and their relevance to the Arctic, 21-22 September 2006 page for more information on the results of this seminar, including presentations, background report and final recommendations.


Rapid environmental changes are taking place in the Arctic, threatening the livelihoods of people of the far North and endangering Arctic flora and fauna. But these changes, and those predicted for the future, will have global effects. Sea level rise from melting ice, altered global ocean circulation from changes in the polar seas, and changes to Arctic breeding grounds of migratory birds, fish and marine mammals are global issues that require global solutions. While there are several global and regional Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) relevant to the Arctic, none have an exclusive Arctic scope.

The seminar is co-organized by GRID-Arendal and the Standing Committee for Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (SCPAR), and co-sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The seminar builds on the 7th Conference of the Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region in Kiruna, northern Sweden, held at the beginning of August this year. One of the main topics of the conference was Innovation in the Arctic Governance: the possibilities and limitations of a binding legal regime for the Arctic.

The Conference Statement included requests to governments in the Arctic region and institutions of the European Union: "In light of the impact of climate change, and the increasing economic and human activity, [to] initiate, as a matter of urgency, an audit of existing legal regimes that impact the Arctic and to continue the discussion about strengthening or adding to them where necessary," and to "Propose to the United Nations that the scope of the Annual Treaty Event in 2007, or at the earliest possible time, should be UN Treaties relevant to the Arctic."

The objective of this seminar is to identify gaps, challenges, and steps that can be taken to make the global MEAs more relevant to the Arctic region and more useful in ensuring good governance and sustainable development. The outcome of this seminar should be a set of recommendations. On Day 2 we will develop draft recommendations and decide on a process for review and endorsement. The aim is to submit these recommendations to the Arctic Council and to the MEA secretariats, and to distribute them widely to Arctic stakeholders.

Thursday 06 Jul 2006