Jennifer Rhemann

Jennifer Rhemann

Jennifer Rhemann is an M.A. candidate in Polar Law at the University of Akureyri. She has worked in various science support capacities for the U.S. Antarctic Program at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, and she studied polar sciences via the U.S. National Science Foundation Polar Education Program and California State University. She holds a Bachelor of Antarctic Studies with Honours from the Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, University of Tasmania, where her research was focused on the development and implementation of policies regarding non-native species in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions. Her research interests include the science – policy interface, governance of the Polar Regions, and implementation of policy. She is a member of the Association of Early Career Polar Scientists (APECS) and is an APECS co-convener for Panel 4-5 (Arctic and Antarctic Governance and Economics) of the International Polar Year Oslo Science Conference. The author thanks the reviewers of this paper for their astute and helpful comments, and applauds the editors of Lögfræðingur for their efforts in this edition.

Grein birt í: Lögfræðingur 2010

Comparative Introduction to Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation in the Antarctic and Arctic Regions


The historical isolation of the Polar Regions has eroded during the last century, and the regions are faced with rapid changes due to climate change, globalization, resource utilization, infrastructure expansion, and tourism (UNEP GRID-Arendal,

2009, ACIA 2004, Bastmeijer and van Hengel, 2009 and Koivurova, 2009). These unprecedented and rapid changes pose additional challenges to biodiversity protection and other governance matters.

The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the state of environmental protection regarding the conservation of biodiversity in the Polar Regions. Brief descriptions of the Polar Regions will be presented along with some of the threats to each region’s biodiversity. Polar governance platforms and the legal mechanisms by which these threats are being addressed will be compared with a view to discerning whether the extant biodiversity protection measures and their implementation in each of the Polar Regions are adequate, comparable and potentially complimentary. Although the Arctic and the Antarctic are unique regions with fundamental differences, it is the author’s assertion that there is scope for identifying “best practices” in one region that can be applicable to addressing challenges in the other and that continued collaboration between parties in each region will enhance our abilities to address these challenges.

Biodiversity Conservation

The term “biodiversity conservation” is relatively new and continues to evolve and be refined (Birnie, et al., 2009, 585). According to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), “biological diversity” means the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diver- sity within species, between species and of ecosystems” (CBD, 1992). The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources1 (IUCN) defines biodiversity as “the backbone of all life on Earth” (IUCN, 2009 ), and recognizes in the preamble of its statutes that the “conservation of nature and natural resources involves the preservation and management of the living world, the natural environment of humanity, and the earth’s renewable natural resources on which rests the foundation of human civilization” (IUCN, 1948). Although environmental protection efforts in the Polar Regions predate the term “biodiversity conservation”2, these efforts are very closely related to the preservation of the biodiversity and associated ecosystem functions within the polar ecosystems.

The Arctic Region

Maritime areas dominate the Arctic Region (Rothwell, 1996), and coastal sovereign states ring the Arctic Ocean. The region encompasses nearly 30 million square kilometers, and contains many terrestrial and marine biomes.3 Despite the demanding and harsh environment, the Arctic has been inhabited for thousands of years, and approximately 4 million people live there today (Bogoyavlenskiy and Siggner, 2004). Current environmental threats (which threaten human health and security as well as biodiversity) include increased exploitation of renewable and non-renewable resources, increased infrastructure pressures, pollutants and climate change impacts4 (Nowlan, 2001, ACIA, 2004). Increased anthropogenic disturbances on the biodiversity of the Arctic are detrimental to the ecosystem functions on which many people depend for livelihoods and many species vitally depend (Ahlenius, et al., 2005 and Koivurova, 2009). The key findings of the 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment and the 2001 GLOBIO Report of the United Nations Environment Programme illustrate the severity of current and anticipated impacts in the Arctic as well as the global implications of these changes (ACIA, 2004 and UNEP, 2001).

The Antarctic Region

The Antarctic Polar Front and the Subtropical Front climatically isolate the Antarctic region, and living conditions are harsh and unique (McGonigal and Woodworth, 2002). The 14 million square kilometer continent of Antarctica is 98% covered by an ice sheet and is ringed by the Southern Ocean, an area in which terrestrial habitats are scarce (Nowlan, 2001 and CIA, 2009); therefore, the bulk of Antarctic biodiversity inhabits the marine and coastal environments (Rothwell, 1996). There are no indigenous populations of humans in Antarctica, however a number of permanent research stations facilitate year-round scientific research for a transient population of scientists and support personnel5. Human activities in the last two hundred years – namely resource exploitation6, exploration, scientific research and tourism – have profoundly impacted the once-isolated ecosystems of Antarctica (Tin, et al., 2008 and Shirihai, 2002). As with the Arctic, the isolation that kept anthropogenically-introduced threats from the ecosystems is now a factor contributing to the vulnerability of the native biota. As stated in 1999 by Simon Upton, previous Environmental Minister to New Zealand, “Antarctica[s] greatest defence was isolation but that isolation has evaporated rapidly” (Bastmeijer, 2000).

International Legal Regime Relating to Environmental Challenges of the Polar Regions

The many and complex environmental challenges in the Polar Regions are interconnected with other legal challenges. In addition to biodiversity conservation, legal challenges common to both the Antarctic and the Arctic include sovereignty issues7 and renewable and non-renewable resource matters8. The scope, complexity and interrelated nature of these challenges impact the ability of the parties involved to develop and implement good governance practices and policies for the Polar Regions in the face of social and environmental transition.

There are a number of instruments of international law that are relevant to the Polar Regions, some of which are global in scope and some which are specific to the Polar Regions (Birnie, et al., 2009 and Rothwell, D., 1996). Instruments of international law that are of particular importance to biodiversity conservation in the Polar Regions include:

  • 1946 International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling9
  • 1959 Antarctic Treaty
    • 1972 Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals
    • 1980 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
    • 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty
  • 1971 Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat
  • 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage
  • 1972 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES)
  • 1979 Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wild Life and Natural Habitat
  • 1979 Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals
  • 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS)10
  • 1991 Agreement on the Conservation of small cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (the ASCOBNS)
  • 1991 Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context
  • 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
    • 1998 Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (not in force)
  • 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
    • 2001 CBD Protocol on Biosafety
  • 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development11

As seen by the instruments listed above, international attention to biodiversity loss and other environmental challenges has grown during the last decades, and awareness of these issues in the Polar Regions has likewise increased. A number of intergovernmental and international organizations have responded by the development of dedicated research programs. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has defined six areas for priority of focus regarding global environmental challenges: Climate Change, Disasters and Conflicts, Ecosystem Management, Environmental Governance, Harmful Substances and Resource Efficiency (UNEP, 2009). Each of these focal areas has relevance to the Polar Regions. Two UN programs that address environmental protection and impacts in the Polar Regions are UNEP GLOBIO in Mapping Human Impacts on the Biosphere: Polar Regions (UNEP, 2001) and UNEP GRID-Arendal in the Polar work (UNEP GRID-Arendal, 2009). The IUCN likewise addresses polar issues within their main areas of focus, which are “Biodiversity, Climate Change, Energy, Livelihoods and Green Economy” (IUCN, 2009 ) by the development of an Arctic Strategy (IUCN, 2005), and the work of the Antarctic Thematic Group of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management IUCN, 2009 ).

Regional Platforms for Addressing Environmental Challenges of the Polar Regions

On a regional scale, the methods and platforms for addressing environmental legal challenges specific to the Polar Regions differ between the Arctic and the Antarctic. The legal challenges of the Antarctic Region are primarily addressed through the Antarctic Treaty System, and the legal challenges of the Arctic Region are addressed in various fora, from the international and intergovernmental level12  down to the local community level.

Antarctic Forum for Addressing Environmental Legal Challenges

The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 established the area south of 60° as a zone reserved for peaceful cooperation and scientific research (Antarctic Treaty, 1959). The Antarctic Treaty and subsequent agreements developed by the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties have formed the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) (U.S. State Department, 2002). These agreements consist of:

  • 1964 Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora
  • 1972 Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals
  • 1980 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
  • 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (The Madrid Protocol)13
  • 2004 Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ATS, 2009).

As seen by the legal instruments of the ATS, environmental protection has been a consistent theme in the cooperative participation of the Parties to the Treaty.

Within the ATS, the annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCM) serve as the platform for policy makers to address legal, operational and environmental matters. Consultative and Non-consultative Parties meet with representatives from the Committee on Environmental Protection (CEP) and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) in addition to experts from international and non- governmental organizations14 (ATCM XXXII, 2009). Both binding and non-binding legal instruments are developed within the ATS. Current legal challenges which pertain directly and indirectly to environmental protection can be seen in the items on the Agenda of the 2009 ATCM XXXII: 

  • “Liability: Implementation of Decision 1 (2005) [The ratification and implemen- tation of the Annex on Liability to the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty]
  • Safety and Operations in Antarctica
  • The International Polar Year 2007 - 2008
  • Tourism and other non-governmental activities in the Antarctic Treaty Area
  • Inspections under the Antarctic Treaty and the Environmental Protocol
  • Science Issues, Including Climate-related Research, Scientific Co-operation and Facilitation
  • Operational Issues
  • Educational Issues
  • Exchange of Information
  • Bioprospecting in Antarctica” (ATS, 2009).

The emphasis on environmental protection as a challenge (legal and operational) to the Antarctic Region is illustrated by the sixteen legally-binding Measures adopted at ATCM XXXII regarding Antarctic Specially Protected Areas, Antarctic Specially Managed Areas, tourism and the Protocol on Environmental Protection; the eight internal organizational Decisions made regarding climate change, tourism and the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP); and the nine hortatory Resolutions made regarding environmental protection, vulnerable species protection and regula- tions for shipping, tourism and bioprospecting (ATCM XXXII, 2009).

Arctic Fora for Addressing Environmental Legal Challenges

Unlike the ATS in the Antarctic Region, there is no single, comprehensive platform for addressing environmental stewardship issues and developing binding legal instruments in the Arctic. Ultimately, the legal authority in the Arctic lies with the eight Arctic states. However, Arctic governments and citizens have been proactive in working to develop organizations that promote regional and international cooperation15 and others that assert under-recognized rights and expectations for governance participation in various areas, including conservation16. Additionally, there has been a great deal of effort to define extant or potential applicability of various existing instruments of international law to Arctic governance and environmental stewardship17 (Bankes, 2004 and Birnie, et al., 2009). 

The framework for environmental protection in the Arctic is furnished by the domestic policies of the eight sovereign Arctic states18  (Nowlan, 2001). A number of bilateral environmental agreements between Arctic states and multiple non-binding agreements have been created (Birnie, et al., 2009 and Rothwell, D., 1996). Arctic cooperation initiatives19, global treaties and environmental movements have had increasing influence on domestic policies (Nowlan, 2001). This influence can be seen within the context of national Arctic strategy documents and regional policy directives. The order of issues as addressed in Arctic policy documents of the eight Arctic States that currently have Northern or Arctic Strategies/Policies are depicted in Table 1, and the order of issues as addressed in the EU Northern Dimension and the Chairman’s Conclusions from the NATO Seminar on Security Prospects in the High North are shown in Table 2.

Canada Denmark Greenland Faroe Islands Iceland Norway Russian Federation1 USA



Foreign Policy and Cooperation, Development of Greenland Authorities,

EU Northern

International Cooperation

Foreign Policy Including Energy and Military Matters

Strategic Resource Base for Social & Economic Development: Resource Utilization

National Security

Protecting Environmental Heritage

Arctic Peoples’ Rights, Traditional Knowledge

Security and Defense, including Military, Terrorism and Tourism Shipping

Research: Marine, Petroleum, Environment, Climate, Polar

Maintenance of Peace and Collaboration; Security and Protection

Environmental Protection and Conservation of Biological Resources

Promoting Social and Economic Development

Energy and Oil/ Gas/ Mineral Extraction

Natural Resource Utilization and Environmental Protection

Indigenous Peoples Issues

Economy of and Protection of Ecological Systems

Sustainable Natural Resource Management and Economic Development

Improving and Devolving Northern Governance

Utilization of Flora and Fauna

Transportation: Shipping

Cultural Cooperation

Northern Seaway Utilization

International Cooperation between Arctic Nations


Protection of Environment, Pollution, Climate and Weather

Culture and People: Cooperation with Indigenous Peoples

Climate Change, Pollution, Integrated Management of Northern Seas

Knowledge Maintenance and Exchange

Indigenous Community Involvement in Decision-making Process

Emergency Response, SAR

Science and Monitoring, Climate Change

Management and Utilization of Marine Resources, IUU Fishing

Research Commitment

Scientific Monitoring and Research on Local, Regional and Global Environmental Issues

Economy and Trade


Petroleum Activities

Maritime Transport

International Collaboration


Human Health Research

Business Development


Table 1. Legal Issues in Order as Addressed by Arctic States in their Arctic Strategies and Policies1  (Environmental Issues in bold type) Adapted from Bailes, 2009; Canada, 2009; Denmark, 2008, Iceland, 2009; Norway, 2007; Russia, 2008; and USA, 2009.

Economic Cooperation Environment
Freedom, Security and Justice Accidents
External Security: Civil Protection Economic and Energy Security
Research, Education and Culture Rule of Law
Environment,   Nuclear  Safety   and Natural Resources International Cooperation
Social Welfare and Healthcare NATO Security Interests


Situational Awareness, Surveillance

Table 2. Order of Legal Issues Addressed by the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. (Environmental Issues in bold type) Adapted from Bailes, 2009; EU, 2006; and NATO, 2009.

These tables demonstrate that environmental protection and biodiversity conservation are among the priorities of these Arctic stakeholders20; however, it is also visible that they are ranked and prioritized differently amongst other areas demanding allocation of resources in order to address the varied challenges of governance. Cooperation and collaboration amongst Arctic stakeholders has been one method of addressing these challenges.

The Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) was a major collaborative work that brought about the creation of the Arctic Council. Ministers of the eight Arctic States worked in conjunction with the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the Nordic Saami Council, the USSR Association of Small Peoples of the North, the Federal Republic of Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom, the UN Economic Commission for Europe, the UN Environment Program and the International Arctic Science Com- mittee (Arctic Council, 2009 ). The multi-level cooperation in the creation of the AEPS demonstrates the gravity of the legal challenge of environmental protection as regarded by parties from the international level to the local level. The Arctic Council was established “as a high level intergovernmental forum to provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic” (Arctic Council, 2009 ). The Arctic Council is a consensus-based organization that does not coordinate Arctic policy apart from areas agreed-upon in advance (Koivurova and Molenaar, 2008), and it cannot produce any legally binding regulations. The Arctic Council was originally intended to be a minor forum for limited discussion (Grímsson, 2009), however there has been significant environmental protection and conservation work accomplished by the Arctic Council’s Permanent Working Groups (The Arctic Contaminants Action Program; The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme; Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna; Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response; Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment; and the Sustainable Development Working Group) under the auspices of the Arctic Council (Koivurova, 2009).

The priorities of challenges addressed by the Arctic Council are discernable by the establishment of the six Working Groups. Additionally, the main themes of the Tromsø Declaration and the Conference Statement of the Eighth Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region demonstrate the attention being paid to addressing environmental legal challenges in the Arctic (see Table 3).

Tromsø Declaration on the Occasion of the Sixth Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council Conference Statement of the Eighth Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region
Climate Change in the Arctic Human Health in the Arctic
The International Polar Year and its Legacy Arctic Maritime Policy for Safety at Sea
The Arctic Marine Environment Adaptation to Climate Change
Human Health and Development Development of Renewable Energy Resources
Energy Contaminants  

Table 3. Main Themes Addressed in the Tromsø Declaration and the Conference State- ment of the Eigth Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region. (Environmental Issues in bold type) Adapted from Arctic Council, 2009b and CPAR, 2008.

Conservation Initiatives in the Polar Regions

Two brief examples are provided as an introduction to biodiversity conservation efforts in the Polar Regions: the work of CAFF in the Arctic and the work of the CCAMLR Commission in the Antarctic.

Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna

The main goals for the Permanent Working Group of the Arctic Council, Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), are:

  • “To conserve Arctic flora and fauna, their diversity and their habitats
  • To protect the Arctic ecosystems from threats
  • To improve conservation management laws, regulations and practices for the Arctic
  • To integrate the Arctic interests into global conservation fora” (CAFF, 1997).
  • In 1993, CAFF was tasked with suggesting ways to facilitate cooperation among Arctic Council countries in advancing the goals of the CBD, and the Biological Diversity Task Force was created in response to this (CAFF, 1997). The 1997 Co- operative Strategy for the Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Arctic Region defined the following action areas to meet CAFF’s conservation goals:
  • Identification of biological diversity
  • Monitoring of biological diversity
  • Species and habitat conservation and restoration
  • Identification of threats
  • Environmental Impact Assessments
  • Protected Areas
  • Conservation outside protected areas
  • Collaborative research
  • Sustainable use of biological resources
  • Sectoral and cross-sectoral integration
  • Data and information sharing
  • Harmonization of legislation
  • Indigenous and other local people
  • Education and public awareness

Many of these action areas have found expression in subsequent years. The Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP) was developed by CAFF in 2002 as directed by the Arctic Council21 (Zöckler and Harrison, 2004), and it is one of the two main mechanisms by which CAFF is responding to the calling action items of the Co-operative Strategy for the Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Arctic Region. The second main mechanism is the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA), which was endorsed by the Arctic Council in 2006 to “synthesize and assess the status and trends of biological diversity in the Arctic” (CAFF, 2008).

Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources

The primary objective of CCAMLR is the conservation of Antarctic marine living resources22 in the area covered by the Convention23. There is close cooperation in the implementation of CCAMLR and the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty24, the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Seals, and the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. The Commission regulates resource utilization activities25 by the creation of policies governing the Treaty area (Stokke and Vidas, 1996). Assessments by the Working Group on Ecosystem Monitoring and Management, the Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment and CCA- MLR’s Scientific Committee form the basis of these regulatory measures, and they are developed in accordance with an ecosystem approach to management that acknowledges the interlinked and complex ecological systems of the Southern Ocean biomes. The conservation principles that guide CCAMLR’s management include:

• “Prevention of decrease in the size of any harvested population to levels below those which ensure its stable recruitment […]

• Maintenance of the ecological relationships between harvested, dependent and related populations of Antarctic marine living resources and the restoration of depleted populations […]

• Prevention of change(s) or minimisation of the risk of change(s) in the marine ecosystem which are not potentially reversible over two or three decades, taking into account the state of available knowledge of the direct and indirect impact of harvesting, the effect of the introduction of alien species, the effects of associated activities on the marine ecosystem and of the effects of environmental changes, with the aim of making possible the sustained conservation of Antarc- tic marine living resources” (CCAMLR , 2009: Pp. 3).


The incorporation of these principles into CCAMLR’s management practices is integral to CCAMLR’s aim to follow both a precautionary approach and an ecosys- tem approach to regulation of the harvesting of Antarctic marine living resources. In keeping with these principles, the CCAMLR Ecosystem Monitoring Program (CEMP) was created in 1984 to “(i) detect and record significant changes in critical components of the ecosystem, to serve as a basis for the conservation of Antarctic marine living resources and (ii) to distinguish between changes due to harvesting of commercial species and changes due to environmental variability, both physical and biological” (cited to in Berkman, 2002). The Working Group on Ecosystem Monitoring and Management coordinates the efforts of the CEMP. Standard methods for data collection and analysis were first established in 1987 and revised in 1997. Via these methods, CCAMLR has collected and analyzed ecosystem data from numerous sites, species and other parameters (CCAMLR, 2004).

The CCAMLR Catch Documentation Scheme (CDS) for Antarctic toothfish is an example of application of an ecosystem approach and a precautionary approach to governance of living resources. The CDS aims to “(i) monitor the international toothfish trade (ii) identify the origins of toothfish imports or exports, (iii) determine whether toothfish catches have been made in accordance with CCAMLR conservation measures, and (iv) gather catch data for the scientific evaluation of toothfish stocks” (CCAMLR, 2009 ). This program promotes responsible fishing techniques and accountability in the commercial fishing industry. The CDS operates in conjunction with CCAMLR monitoring programs for krill, finfish and sea birds in order to provide a more comprehensive view of the ecosystem health. Additionally, survey data (from fisheries and fishery-independent surveys) and strategic modeling are methods utilized by the CCAMLR Scientific Committee to assess ecosystem status (CCAMLR, 2009 ).

Cooperation, Best Practices and Applicability to Other Polar Regions

The examples of CAFF and CCAMLR are representative of the high caliber work that is being undertaken for the conservation of biodiversity in the Polar Regions, and they represent the work of only two organizations amongst many that are dedicating resources to environmental protection. Despite the work of CAFF, CCAMLR and similar organizations – and despite the amount of environmental legislation in place – there are many difficulties in implementing biodiversity conservation policies. One such challenge is that many of the benefits26 of the protected areas are difficult to quantify in economic terms, and this leads to under-representation of environmental protection considerations in resource or land-use policy development (CAFF, 2002).

In facing these challenges, biodiversity conservation methods from each Polar Region have met with both successes and challenges, and the efforts in each region could be well served by expanding the cooperation that is evident in conservation efforts to include collaboration between experts from the opposite Polar Region. For example, elements of the precautionary ecosystem management system utilized by the CCAMLR could be complimentary to the implementation of marine protected area management measures in the Arctic27, and the methods used in CAFF’s Arctic Biodiversity Assessment could be employed in the current work on assessing Antarctic biodiversity28. These are only two of many areas of biodiversity conservation work that could potentially benefit from a collaborative sharing of expertise and experience.

There have been some recent developments in bipolar cooperation that are promising. The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) have collaborated to form the SCAR/IASC Bipolar Action Group (BipAG), which “explores options for effective cooperation concerning bipolar issues and the development of mechanisms to nurture the International Polar Year legacy” (SCAR/IASC, 2009). Additionally, the first joint session of the ATCM and the Arctic Council was convened at the 32nd ATCM in April 2009 (U.S. State Department, 2009), and this meeting could foretell more collaboration on different levels, thereby strengthening the environmental protection and conservation that we are able to afford to the vulnerable Polar Regions.

Flexibility to adapt to new environmental challenges, including climate change and anthropogenic pressures (ACIA, 2004), as well as to dynamic social values (AHDR, 2004) is imperative for effective environmental protection. The threats facing the Polar Regions are immense in scope and require urgent response. As seen in the work of the Arctic Council Working Groups and the ATS, the cooperative and collaborative efforts in each of the Polar Regions have yielded a certain amount of success in addressing some of the challenges through the development of management and conservation techniques. Further cooperation will aid in identifying which “best practices” are applicable to the other Polar Regions as well as increasing the adaptive capacity of the governance platforms to respond to challenges.

End notes

1. The IUCN, also known as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, is the world’s largest and oldest conservation organiza- tion. They have been working towards conservation in the Polar Regions for decades. For example, the Polar Bear Research Group had its initial meetings in 1965. See

2. Sir Douglas Mawson campaigned for protected status for sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island following the 1911 – 1914 Australasian Ant- arctic Expedition, and the first of many layers of protected status was granted following the 1919 establishment of his scientific research station on the island (WCMC, 2008). “[The elephant seal] was so hunted in all its haunts that its extermination was now only a matter of a few years…[while] the King penguins have been so enormously reduced by slaughter that their final extinction is threatened.” – Sir Douglas Mawson (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009).

3. Including, inter alia, tundra, boreal forests, wetlands, sea ice, coastal and benthic habitats (CAFF, 2002 and Kurvits, et al., 2006).

4. Including rising temperatures, declining sea ice, glacial reduction, sea level rise, coastal erosion, thawing permafrost, shifts in habitats of plant and animal species, introduced species (ACIA, 2004).

5. See the UNEP-GRID Arendal map of Antarctic research stations at ca.

6. Historically, sealers and whalers opened vast areas of the Southern Ocean to further navigation by mapping the area in their search for the whale, seal and penguin stocks, which they exploited to the brink of extinction (McGonigal and Woodworth, 2002). Today illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing is a threat to the marine ecosystem of the Southern Ocean (CCAMLR, 2009a).

7. Article IV of the Antarctic Treaty addressed sovereignty claims by asserting that “No acts or activities taking place while the present Treaty is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting, supporting or denying a claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica or create any rights of sovereignty in Antarctica” (Antarctic Treaty, 1959), however it did not fully resolve sovereignty issues, but only “froze” claims.

8. Additional issues pertinent to the Arctic include governance participation, dispute resolution, the development of sustainable autonomy and self-determination for indigenous peoples, and the foreseen expansion of various industries such as shipping and oil and gas extraction (Young and Einarsson, 2004).

9. In 1994, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) adopted the Southern Ocean Sanctuary in which commercial whaling activities are prohibited (IWC, 2009 and CIA, 2009). The first Antarctic sanctuary was established by the IWC in 1938. The boundary of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary fluctuates between 40˚S - 60˚S around the continent of Antarctica. The Indian Ocean Sanctuary extends to 55˚S, meeting the boundary of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. These sanctuaries are reviewed every ten years. See

10. Of especial relevance to biodiversity conservation in the Polar Regions are Articles 63-67 of UNCLOS regarding regulation of exploita- tion to ensure species conservation and defining the rights and duties for the parties, Article 77 for exploitation and conservation responsibility as regarding sedimentary species, and Article 116 for rights and responsibilities in regards to the living resources of the high seas (UNCLOS, 1982).

11. Articles of significant relevance to environmental protection and the conservation of biodiversity in the Polar Regions include Articles 2 (rights and responsibilities regarding resource exploitation and environmental impacts), 3 (noting the dependence of future generations on the environment), 4 (mandating that environmental protection shall be an integral component of development), 7 (calling for cooperation in environmental protection and restoration), 10 (advocating multi-level participation in dealing with environmental issues), 11 (calling for enactment of environmental legislation), 15 (advocating a precautionary approach), 17 (concerning Environmental Impact Assessment) and 19 (calling for early notification of trans-boundary environmental impacts) (Rio Declaration, 1992).

12. Including the Arctic Council, the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Labor Organization (ILO), the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)), the Council of Nordic Ministers, the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.

13. The Madrid Protocol, which designated Antarctica as a natural reserve, was preceded by the 1988 Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (CRAMRA), however CRAMRA is not in force due to great controversy concerning resource extraction and associated environmental impacts (Birnie, et al., 2009).

14. The attendees of the Thirty-second ATCM in 2009 included the Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), the Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Programme Office for the International Polar Year (IPY-IPO), the World Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the World Tourism Organization (WTO) and the two permanent observers to the ATCMS, the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) (ATCM XXXII, 2009).

15. Such as the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and the Arctic Council (Nordic Council, 2009; BEAC, 2009 and Arctic Council, 2009a).

16. Including indigenous organizations such as the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) and the Russian Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) (ICC, 2009 and RAIPON, 2009).

17. For example, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

18 The eight Arctic states, Canada, Denmark (in relation to Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States of America, are all members of the Arctic Council.

19. Cooperative governance initiatives for the Arctic include the Arctic Council, the Northern Forum, the Standing Committee of Parliamen- tarians of the Arctic Region, the Nordic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the International Arctic Science Committee, the Saami Council, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission, the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region and the North American Treaty Organization.

20. For purposes of comparison, the priorities of other Arctic stakeholders such as the indigenous peoples of the Arctic can be found in documents such as 2009 Anchorage Declaration from the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change (http://www.indige- and the Statement by Representatives of Arctic Indigenous Peoples Organizations on the Occasion of the Eleventh Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (http://www.arcti-

1   The State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic contains both national interests and objectives, and both are provided in the table.

2   Finland is expected to release its Arctic Policy very soon. Arctic environment, economy and international politics were the three main topics of the September 29 2009 speech, A New Arctic Era and Finland’s Arctic Policy, by Finland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Stubb, at the 20th Anniversary Seminar of the Arctic Centre. See internet for full text: ontentId=171839&nodeId=15145. An Arctic policy or strategy for Sweden could not be located, however climate change, Arctic ship- ping and oil and gas extraction were the three main topics addressed by the Swedish Delegation to the April 2009 ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council. See online for press release:

21. There is collaboration between the CBMP and the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme as well as collaboration between the CBMP and various species conservation networks (Zöckler and Harrison, 2004).

22. Including ‘rational use’

23. See for Treaty area.

24. Namely Annex II: Conservation of Antarctic Flora and Fauna.

25. CCAMLR regulates the utilization of all Antarctic marine living resources other than cetaceans and seals, which are regulated respectively by the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling and the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals.

26. “Arctic protected areas provide a greater array of global, national, local and community benefits for nature and for people than is generally realized” (CAFF, 2002, pp. 1). The Arctic Human Development Report highlights many of the benefits of natural ecological systems in relation to Arctic indigenous peoples, and many of the maps and graphics of UNEP GRID-Arendal depict the global environmental importance of the Arctic, for example the Major Global Bird Migration Routes to the Arctic map found at graphic/major-global-bird-migration-routes-to-the-arctic.

27. For example, in the similar work of the Arctic Council Working Group, Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) ( and in CAFF’s Circumpolar Protected Area Network (

28. For example, in the SCAR Evolution and Biodiversity project ( and the Census of Antarctic Marine Life project (


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