Seal caught in net

Action on plastics

A successful Chairmanship priority

Back in sight, back in mind

Two years ago, Iceland put plastic pollution in the Arctic marine environment high on the agenda of the Arctic Council. Today, the Council is ready to take a leadership role in tackling marine litter and to inspire global commitments through regional action. Get an overview of the Council's activities on plastics: Arctic Council - Plastics in the Arctic (
Plastic pollution on Icelandic coast
Portrait of Icelandic Foreign Minister

Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson

Chair of the Arctic Council, Icelandic Foreign Minister
"For many of us, the sea is our bread basket. Plastic pollution has no place in our environment. During our Chairmanship we have highlighted plastic pollution in the Arctic marine environment. We see it as our responsibility and duty together with other Arctic States to safeguard the Arctic Ocean."

A Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter in the Arctic

One of the most anticipated outcomes of Iceland's plastics priority is the Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter in the Arctic, which will be released at the upcoming Ministerial meeting in May. The Senior Arctic Officials have already approved the report for submission to Ministers, so we asked Elizabeth McLanahan, PAME Vice-chair and one of the lead authors of the Action Plan, for a sneak peek.
Plastic bag in ocean

Skimming the surface

CAFF in cooperation with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology showcases the problem of plastic pollution in the Arctic. Their joint video explores plastic interactions with seabirds to build support for a circumpolar plastics monitoring program that will include birds as an indicator.

A virtual symposium on plastics in the Arctic

The International Symposium on Plastics in the Arctic moved online, after the Covid-19 pandemic forced the organizers to postpone the conference by almost a year. But it was well worth the wait. If you missed it, you can catch up on the highlights day-by-day on the symposium website.
Photo from the Plastic Symposium
Portrait of Magnus Johannesson

Magnús Jóhannesson

Special Coordinator on Plastics Pollution and Marine Litter 
“Plastic pollution is a global problem that eventually will need a global solution, but it will take time to create. In the meantime, the Arctic States can take some immediate measures to reduce the problem in the Arctic region and collaboration with Observer States in the Arctic Council will make such measures more effective.” 

A changing human-nature relationship

Gunn-Britt Retter"Marine plastics affecting Arctic communities represents not just pollution but also problematic consumption patterns, and a shift from traditional products to plastic replacements that can contribute to changing human-nature relationships," said Gunn-Britt Retter from the Saami Council at the Plastics Symposium.

Gunn-Britt Retter presented the results of a scoping study conducted by GRID-Arendal, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) and the Saami Council. The study builds on the reflections of Sámi knowledge holders on the linkages between the availability and easy access to cheap plastic items and the altered relationship with nature, loss of Indigenous know-how and loss of knowledge about ecological processes.

The report advocates for the importance of Indigenous knowledge to rediscover practices that are more sustainable, it recommends investigating how Indigenous knowledge can inform and improve the management, use and re-use of plastics and their alternatives - since the effects of the rapid introduction of plastics on Indigenous peoples’ values and culture haven’t received much attention in public debate. Furthermore, the study recommends investigating whether strengthening human-nature relationships, also beyond Indigenous societies, could help address unsustainable consumption and production patterns. The report of the scoping study is in its finalizing phase and will be published in English and Northern Sámi. Read the full post on the Facebook page of the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat.
Tradition meets plastics

A toolbox for comprehensive plastics monitoring in the Arctic

AMAP’s Expert Group on Litter and Microplastics is developing a comprehensive monitoring plan and technical monitoring guidelines for litter and microplastics in the Arctic. It will be the first time that all parts of an Arctic ecosystem are examined for traces of litter and microplastics – from the air to the bottom of the sea. Learn more from the Expert Group’s Co-chairs Eivind Farmen and Jennifer Provencher together with Jan Rene Larsen from the AMAP Secretariat.
Clean-up of microplastics from beach

Marine Litter in the Arctic

PAME has assessed the state of knowledge on marine litter around the Arctic and released the first Arctic-wide study on the impacts of plastic pollution. The study improves our understanding of marine litter in the Arctic and its effects. Watch the summary video.

Tracking plastic in a bottle

PAME launched a bottle equipped with a GPS transmitter into the Atlantic on 12 September 2019. Called “plastic in a bottle”, the capsule simulated how marine litter and plastics travel far distances into and out of Arctic waters. Find out where it washed ashore.

Map showing the route of the plastic in a bottle

From the Council's news' section

Photo of Reykjavik

Iceland’s final SAO meeting marks a successful Chairmanship and hits record participation

As the Icelandic Chairmanship comes to a close, preparations for the Ministerial meeting show the progress the Arctic Council has made towards Iceland’s Chairmanship priorities. Read the media release here.

Arctic Council Active

Two skiers on a mountain

On the finishing stretch

Join us for the last kilometers as we are moving the distance around the Arctic Circle before the Council’s Ministerial meeting on 20 May 2021 - #ArcticCouncilActive Learn more and track your distance.

The Arctic Council's social corner

Comic of the Council's anniversary
2021 is a big year for the #ArcticCouncil - it's our 25th anniversary! Cartoonist Baz Köhler provides a good visual summary of our celebration at @arcticfrontiers
last month. #ArcticCouncil25
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