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The whys and hows of a cooperative mechanism for the Arctic marine environment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2016

William M. Eichbaum*
Senior Fellow for Arctic Policy, WWF-US, 1250 24th Street NW, Washington, DC 20037, United States (


Arctic ministers agreed at the latest 2015 Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Iqaluit to establish a ‘Task Force to assess future needs for a regional seas program or other mechanism, as appropriate, for increased cooperation in Arctic marine areas.’ Involving the Arctic Council in increased coordination of national marine management measures, and in drawing on experts from international organisations or treaty bodies to address related questions, is consistent with the longstanding advisory role of the Arctic Council. It also builds prudently on the council's emerging role as convener to accomplish discrete tasks critical to the health of the Arctic environment and the wellbeing of Arctic peoples. In order to strengthen Arctic marine cooperation and governance, the Arctic Council should adopt some instrument or arrangement through which it can more effectively coordinate among national management efforts affecting the Arctic marine environment and increase the effectiveness of the interplay with global governance mechanisms. The purpose of this commentary is to present World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) perspectives on two important dimensions of this proposal. First, the commentary is to review the arguments as to why a strong regional seas program for the Arctic is required. Second, it is to address a series of questions that arise in considering the design of a framework mechanism necessary to create the program. The paper will provide WWF's views with regards to the mandate and scope of a future cooperative mechanism, its relationship to the Arctic Council and membership, and its legal form.

THEMED SECTION: Arctic in the Anthropocene: sustainability in a new polar age
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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