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The Arctic Council

arctic council

The Arctic Council Exit EPA disclaimerpromotes cooperation among Arctic nations on sustainable development and environmental protection. Established by the Ottawa Declaration in 1996, the Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum composed of eight nations with territory in the Arctic.

EPA leads U.S. government participation in the Arctic Contaminants Action Programme (ACAP) Working Group Exit EPA disclaimer, which seeks to reduce emissions of pollutants into the environment.

All links in this section are to the website of the Arctic Council. Exit EPA disclaimer

The Arctic Council promotes cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States by providing a high-level forum to the eight Arctic nations, with the involvement of Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants, to engage on common issues – especially sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. Starting in 1989, these states and groups convened to discuss efforts to enhance cooperation on the Arctic environment, which led to the Ottawa Declaration and establishment of the Arctic Council in 1996.


Who participates in the Arctic Council?

  • The eight Member States are Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States.
  • In addition, the Permanent Participants category provides for active participation of, and full consultation with, the Arctic Indigenous representatives within the Arctic Council. Aleut International Association (AIA), Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC), Gwich'in Council International (GCI), Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Saami Council, and Russian Arctic Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) are Permanent Participants.
  • Non-arctic states, inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary organizations, and non-governmental organizations may obtain Observer Status in the Council.

How does the Arctic Council work?

  • The Chairmanship of the Arctic Council rotates between the eight Member States every two years. The state holding the Chairmanship organizes meetings for Council members, participants, and observers, coordinates joint projects, and represents the Arctic Council externally.
  • Currently, Sweden chairs the Arctic Council and continues to direct the work of the organization under the common objectives agreed upon with Norway and Denmark, the previous two Chairs. In 2013, Canada will take the Chairmanship, followed by the U.S. in 2015.
  • The scientific work of the Arctic Council is carried out in six expert working groups , which meet at regular intervals throughout the year.

Working Groups of the Arctic Council

The six Working Groups of the Arctic Council are: Exit EPA disclaimer

Each Working Group has a Chair, a Management Board or Steering Committee, and includes expert participants from government agencies and research entities. Observer States and Organizations may also attend Working Group Meetings and may participate in specific projects.

U.S. Government Participation

EPA leads U.S. government participation in the Arctic Contaminants Action Programme (ACAP). Other U.S. government agencies participate in other Arctic Council Working Groups with a focus on issues such as:

  • monitoring, assessing and preventing pollution in the Arctic;
  • climate change;
  • biodiversity conservation and sustainable use;
  • emergency preparedness and prevention and response; and
  • living conditions of the Arctic residents.

Back to:International Organizations


For additional information on EPA's work with the Arctic Council, contact:

Hodayah Finman
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2670R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460
E-mail: finman.hodayah@epa.gov
(202) 564-6600

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