United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Environment Outlook-1 - The Web version

Chapter 3: Policy Responses and Directions

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Polar Regions

The Arctic

Regional Data Collection and Information Sharing

Since 1991, AMAP has been implementing a programme to monitor the levels and effects of a number of priority anthropogenic contaminants in all components of the Arctic environment. Members of this collaborative programme include the Arctic rim countries, indigenous people's organizations, observing countries, observing and co-operating international organizations, and other AEPS working groups (AMAP, 1996).

Much of the monitoring is carried out by national monitoring programmes (known as AMAP National Implementation Plans [NIPs]) of the eight Arctic rim countries. For example, the Canadian NIP is largely based on the Northern Contaminants Programme (NCP), which addresses contaminants in traditionally harvested foods in the Canadian Arctic. Carried out over the past six years in conjunction with five northern Aboriginal organizations, the NCP has found elevated levels of toxic substances in a number of the Arctic's fish and wildlife, which are important foods in the diets of many northerners, particularly aboriginal peoples. Those research findings have, on a number of occasions, led to health advisories in both Canadian territories and restrictions on the consumption of certain foods.

Because Arctic contamination has global dimensions, Canada uses the research of the NCP to pursue action at the international level and to provide scientific substitution for global controls, phase-outs, and bans in countries that still use these chemicals (Canadian Dept. of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, personal communication, 1996).

A number of international processes are under way to prepare status reports on the Arctic. Two AMAP reports are due for completion in 1996-97. The AMAP Assessment Report will be a comprehensive scientific and technical assessment of all validated data on the status of the Arctic environment related to the AMAP mandate. The State of the Arctic Environment Report, addressed to Ministers, will present the main assessment findings, conclusions, and recommendations for action (AMAP, 1996). AMAP is preparing a CD-ROM- World Wide Web version of the State of the Arctic Environment Report, through UNEP GRID-Arendal.

Other projects under way to improve the availability of Arctic information include the Nordic Council of Minister's report on the Nordic Arctic Environment, a report on the State of the Barents Sea Environment by the Russian-Norwegian Marine Environment Group (EEA, 1996), and a Wilderness Quality mapping project for the Euro-Arctic Barents Region. This latter report was undertaken as a joint project by UNEP GRID-Arendal, the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management, and the National Remote Sensing Centre (Husby, 1995).

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