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Arctic Council Adopts Nuuk Declaration

12 May 2011: The Seventh Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council  was held on 12 May 2011, in Nuuk, Greenland, and concluded with the adoption of the Nuuk Declaration.

The Declaration includes a section on environment and climate change. It also includes an agreement to cooperate in search and rescue efforts in the Arctic, which is the first legally-binding agreement negotiated under the auspices of the Council. The Ministers also decided to establish a secretariat for the Council in Tromsø, Norway.

Sweden's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, incoming Chair of the Arctic Council, remarked that Arctic countries still need enhanced cooperation on prevention, preparedness and response to oils spills, and committed to press forward on this issue during his chairmanship.

In the Nuuk Declaration, Ministers recognize that rapidly changing circumstances, in particular the changing climate, have increased the challenges and opportunities facing the Arctic in both volume and complexity, underscoring the importance of strengthening the Arctic Council to address this change, and calling for an assessment of the current state of human development in the Arctic and its relationship with climate change and other factors affecting Arctic communities. In addition, Ministers: emphasize the need for forward-looking Arctic cooperation with a view to increasing Arctic resilience and enhancing Arctic Council leadership to minimize the human and environmental impacts of climate change; encourage Arctic States to implement, as appropriate in their national circumstances, relevant recommendations for reducing emissions of black carbon; request a report for the next ministerial meeting in 2013 on methane and tropospheric ozone, and on black carbon; establish a Short-Lived Climate Forcer Contaminants (SLCF) project steering group to undertake circumpolar demonstration projects to reduce black carbon and other SLCF emissions; reiterate the importance of the use of Arctic Indigenous Peoples' traditional knowledge and capacity-building initiatives in the planning and implementation of measures to adapt to climate change; recognize that climate change and other negative factors have impacted the traditional livelihoods and food safety and security of Arctic Indigenous Peoples and other Arctic residents and communities; and confirm the commitment of all Arctic States to work together and with other countries to implement the Cancun Agreements.

Furthermore, Ministers decide to establish an expert group on Arctic ecosystem-based management and welcome the contributions of the Arctic Biodiversity Trends 2010 Report toward understanding the adaptability of nature and living resources in the Arctic to global and regional stressors, noting the scientific assessment and policy recommendations from the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment scheduled to be completed in 2013, when the Eighth Ministerial meeting in scheduled. [Press Release][Nuuk Declaration]