News

Legal Experts Identify Need for New Rules to Govern Polar Regions

Experts meet on need for new rules to govern world's fragile polar regions 7 September 2008: Experts gathered from 7-9 September 2008,

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.

Among

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

Press Release]