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Protecting Arctic Biodiversity: Limitations and strengths of environmental agreements

The Arctic region is characterized by some of the largest continuous intact ecosystems on the planet, but is facing increasingly larger threats. These threats include the full range of stressors known from other parts of the world, namely habitat loss and fragmentation from infrastructure and industrial development, chemical pollution, overharvesting, climate change and invasive species infestations.

Many of these pressures are mainly globally driven, including climate change, long-range transported pollution and even invasive species infestations. Others, such as harvesting and fragmentation are directly under Arctic governance, though often driven from demands outside of the Arctic region.

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This report takes a broad view of existing multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and examines the role of the global environment in impacting and influencing the efficiency of Arctic MEAs in protecting biodiversity and in sustainable development.

The report allows governing and scientific bodies of MEAs, as well as national decision-makers, to better direct their programmes of work and other activities to address the needs of Arctic biodiversity and the region's local and Indigenous Peoples.

Reindeer herding in Norway, by Lawrence Hislop
Reindeer herding in Norway, by Lawrence Hislop. See other photos from this collection in the Photo Library.

Background Material

This report is a follow-up to the Arendal Seminar in 2006, co-organised by GRID-Arendal and the Standing Committee for Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (SCPAR) to identify gaps, challenges, and steps that can be taken to make the global MEAs more relevant to the Arctic and more useful in ensuring good governance and sustainable development.

The Arendal Seminar produced a set of recommendations submitted to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the SCPAR, the Arctic Council, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the governing bodies and secretariats of MEAs, and distributed widely to Arctic stakeholders. An overview report was also prepared as background and supplemental material for the seminar.