Legal Experts Identify Need for New Rules to Govern Polar Regions
in Akureyri, Iceland, for the Polar Law Symposium, hosted by the UN University
(UNU) and the University of Akureyri, to discuss new challenges arising in the
Arctic and Antarctic.
Participants stressed the need for new regulations to
govern commercial and research activities in both Polar Regions in order to
reflect and temper the effects of the new environmental challenges they face.
With climate change and the melting of the ice lid, new opportunities are
created for the fishing, tourism, bio-prospecting and resource industry, which,
according to experts, is unmanageable under existing international law.
the threats faced by these fragile ecosystems are: overfishing; pollution from
ships; offshore extraction of oil and gas; oil spills; and invasion of alien
species carried by ships' ballast water. Konrad Ostrerwalder, UN
Under-Secretary-General and Rector of UNU, noted that the inhabitants of the
Arctic will also be affected by climate change because of their heavy reliance on
the region's natural resources, and called for indigenous peoples' voices to be
heard in the development of government policies at all levels. [UNU