U.S. Arctic Policy

U.S. Arctic Policy & the Arctic Council

Reprinted from Arctic Research of the United States, Fall/Winter 1996:2-8]
In 1994 the United States announced a policy to deal with emerging issues in the Arctic region, following a detailed review of its Arctic interests. The principal objectives of this new policy are:
  • Protecting the Arctic environment and conserving its living resources;
  • Promoting environmentally sustainable natural resource management and economic development in the region;
  • Strengthening institutions for cooperation among the eight Arctic nations; and
  • Involving the indigenous people of the Arctic in decisions that affect them.
The Arctic Council, as outlined in the Declaration signed September 19, 1996, is entirely consistent with these objectives and offers an important vehicle for pursuing them. The Arctic Council brings together the environmental conservation elements of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) and combines them with broader issues related to sustainable development. The challenge for policy makers and practitioners will be to integrate the twin concerns of "environmental protection" and "sustainable development" into a coherent program to achieve, at the same time, environmental protection, economic and social development, and cultural well-being throughout the Arctic for all people of the Arctic. The article that follows traces the evolution the AEPS up to the establishment of the Arctic Council. Although it is a nongovernmental account, it challenges us, at the national level, to pursue an aggressive Federal effort in the Arctic and notes some of the pitfalls that await us. For example, the development debate needs to be caste in such a way so as not to place an even greater strain on the biodiversity of the region.

Finally, a mechanism is needed to ensure the practical involvement of the indigenous communities of the North. Their knowledge of the environment plays an important part in understanding the North. Our ability to find the means for the practical involvement will reflect our commitment the full consultation and involvement of the region's indigenous communities, as articulted in the Arctic Council Declaration and our own policy statement.

The Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy
& the New Arctic Council

Bruce A. Russell

Introduction

The Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS), founded at the first ministerial conference in Rovaneimi, Finland, in June 1991, is a non-binding environmental protection agreement among the eight Arctic nations (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States). Some, but not all, elements of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic are represented through the Indigenous Peoples Secretariat representing three AEPS Permanent Participants: the SAAMI Council (Nordic countries and western Russia), the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (U.S., Canada, Greenland and Russia) and the Association of Indigenous Minorities of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation.

The impetus for the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy was primarily three-fold:

  • Reports coming out of the former Soviet Union of past Arctic Ocean dumping of radioactive and other hazardous materials, which called international attention to potential threats to human health and the environment;
  • The openness of the Russian Federation to discussing these problems in their search for bilateral and multilateral assistance to clearn up and manage present and future environmental problems; and
  • Scientific findings of abnormally high persistent organic pollutants and heavy in Arctic indigenous people and their food sources, which likely come from air, water circulation and possibly ice transport mechanisms from industrial nations in the northern hemisphere.
The Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy has no enforcement powers, is funded by ad hoc contributions of member nations, and implements its activities (other than research) through other international forums [for example, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO)] or through bilateral and/or multilateral agreements. The chairmanship and secretariat rotate among the Arctic nations every two years.

On September 19, 1996, the eight Arctic nations signed a declaration creating the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council will be a consensus forum to provide a means for cooperation, coordination and interaction among the eight Arctic states and Arctic peoples (Native and others) on common environmental and sustainable development issues. The Council will subsume four AEPS programs—the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP); Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF); Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME); and Emergency, Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPRFand terminate the activities of the AEPS task force on Sustainable Development and Utilization. A new sustainable development program will be the fifth Arctic Council program. Drafting and adopting terms of reference for this new sustainable development program, as well as rules of procedures for Council and program meetings, will be the first order of business in the coming year.

The four programs of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy will be pillars of the Council. In the early stages of the Council, it appears that the new sustainable development program will stand alone from the AEPS programs as a separate pillar. This separation is, in part, a recognition that there are some environmental issues that are not sustainable development issues (such as nuclear waste contamination); there are some sustainable development issues that are not environmental (such as telecommunications, and drug abuse among Arctic inhabitants); and that there are issues that are both (such as the indigenous peoples' concerns of the effects of trade barriers on certain natural resources on their society). Indeed sustainable the development for Arctic inhabitants appears to have been the driving force behind the politics of the eventual evolution of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy to the still-to-be-defined Arctic Council. Similar to the AEPS, the Arctic Council will have no enforcement powers, will likely be funded by ad hoc contributions of member nations, and will implement its activities (other than research) through other international forums (for example, UNEP and IMO) or through bilateral and/or multilateral agreements.

The Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy

The Ministerial Conference and the Role of the Senior Arctic Affairs Officials

The cornerstone of the deliberations and activities of the AEPS has been the biennial ministerial conference, reporting on the activities of the AEPS working groups and ad hoc task forces, and declaring national commitment and priorities over the two-year cycle of research, evaluation, and policy development and implementation.

The work of the AEPS is overseen at the national level by Senior Arctic Affairs Officials (SAAO), who meet periodically to monitor and coordinate the activities of the working groups and ad hoc task forces and propose the two-year action plan and declaration of ministers. The SAAO is normally appointed from the ministry of foreign affairs (in the U.S., the State Department). Canada has just finished its two-year role as the secretariat for the AEPS, hosting the SAAO meeting and the ministerial conference. (Canada is still the lead country for the Arctic Council, however.) Much of the tone and agenda of the ministerial conference is often set by the host country. Canada has pushed in the last two years for the sustainable development and utilization focus of the AEPS and the Arctic Council. The Norwegians are now the Secretariat for the AEPS.

Domestically the SAAO tries to coordinate U.S. international Arctic activities. Because this is an underfunded activity (and will likely remain so even with the pending elevated status of the Arctic Council), the SAAO has little oversight of domestic activities other than through the interagency process via the "Arctic Policy Group." The Arctic Policy Group is an informal group of representatives of responsible Federal agencies, with the State of Alaska as an observer. Environmental nongovernmental organizations, research institutions, indigenous peoples' organizations and industry participate through the Federal or state agency representatives, as members of delegations to working group meetings or the SAAO meetings, and through periodic briefings and meetings held by the State Department's Polar Affairs program managers.

Indigenous Peoples' Participation

Three indigenous peoples' organizations are represented as Permanent Participants: the SAAMI Council, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and the Association of Indigenous Minorities of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation. The Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat, established in 1994, facilitates Native participation in the AEPS and encourages the incorporation and acceptance of "indigenous knowledge" into the interpretation of science as policy recommendations of the AEPS. Further, their role underscores the economic impacts of environmental degradation and protection on indigenous peoples.

The Canadian and U.S. indigenous communities not represented by the ICC (in particular the Athabascans and the Aleut) are pushing for expansion of the number of Permanent Participants. There is major concern about the number and make-up of groups to be recognized as Permanent Participants, with the Russians opposing expansion beyond a limited group.

Observers

Non-Arctic countries, environmental groups, academic institutions and organizations, and other multilateral governmental bodies and organizations have been invited to observe the deliberations of the AEPS and participate in AEPS working groups on an ad hoc basis. Early drafts of the terms of reference for the new Arctic Council addressed observer participation in the Arctic Council but the issue remains unresolved.

Accredited observers include the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, the Nordic Council, the Northern Forum, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE) and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC). The World Wide Fund for Nature, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Japan have applied for accredited observer status. Chile has expressed interest.

The Role of the Working Groups

The work of the AEPS has been accomplished through five working groups:
  • The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) conducts, coordinates and evaluates research on chemical and radioactive contaminants in the Arctic. AMAP is scheduled to present its findings in a June 1997 symposium. Norway chairs this program.
  • The program for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) conducts, coordinates and evaluates research on threatened and endangered Arctic species and develops action plans among the Arctic nations. Canada formerly chaired this program; Iceland now chairs the program.
  • The working group on the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) examines findings of AMAP, CAFF and other national and international bodies for gaps in knowledge of the effects of anthropogenic activities on the marine environment and recommends and promotes national and international legal regimes to address problems. Norway chaired this program in its first stages, awaiting reports from the AMAP program in June 1997, and several country-led efforts, for example, offshore oil and gas guidelines. Canada now chairs this working group.
  • The working group on Emergency, Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) examines risks from transboundary accidents and promotes international cooperation in accident mitigation. Sweden chairs this working group.
  • The working group on Sustainable Development and Utilization (SDU) (formerly a task force) fosters the sustainable utilization of natural resources in the Arctic by local and indigenous populations, through research and resolution of trade barrier policies. Norwa chairs this working group. The Arctic Council will call this program the Sustainable Development Working Group. The terms of reference of this new working group are under development. The deliberations of the SDU task force were contentious, as many activities focused on "trade barriers," that is, the U.S. ban on importation of marine mammal products.
An underlying principle in the analysis and recommendations of each working group is to ensure that the findings and recommendations are both consistent with and integral to parts of other on-going international efforts with which each Arctic nation is party. Each working group is chaired by a host country as noted above, with the host country assuming most administrative and often operating costs.

AMAP and CAFF function in more of a coordinating and facilitating role when compiling and evaluating research. That is, most research is conducted by national governments and universities in coordination with the working groups. Ad hoc studies are undertaken by national governments in coordination with the working groups, most often funded and conducted by a lead country. For example, the U.S. Office of Naval Research's Arctic Nuclear Waste Assessment Program is a cornerstone of the AMAP report.

Working Group Program Reports and Activities Highlights

The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program. AMAP is one of the original AEPS working groups, chaired by the Norwegians with contributions from other nations. AMAP objectives are "...to monitor the levels of and assess the effects of, anthropogenic pollutants in all components of the Arctic environment." AMAP is often viewed as the core working group from which others are supposed to base their reports and recommendations. Gaps in research have delayed many AMAP reports; a comprehensive report is now scheduled for June 1997. AMAP coordinates and compiles research in the following areas:
  • Persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals: these pollutants are brought to the Arctic by long-range transport mechanisms (air circulation and ocean currents) and bio-intensify in the lipids (fatty tissues) of carnivores, in particular marine mammals and the Inuit;
  • Radioactivity: these pollutants come from nuclear waste dumping by the former Soviet Union, atomic testing by the former Soviet Union before the test ban treaty, Chernobyl fallout, and nuclear waste processing facilities in the North Sea (the U.K.);
  • Acidification of forests and freshwater lakes: sources include 1950s-era industrial plants in Russia, eastern Europe and China, and power plants in the U.S. midwest;
  • Climate change and UV radiation: this is a concern because of impacts of the melting of the polar ice cap, and ozone holes in polar regions impacting human health and natural ecosystems;
  • Oil pollution: following the revelations of the Komi oil spill from deteriorated Russian oil pipelines in 1994, with concern for the vast amount of oil spilled on the Russian Arctic tundra and its seepage into Arctic rivers, the ministers recently called for an assessment by AMAP of the nature and extent of historic and future contamination; and
  • Organitin in the marine environment: this antifouling paint additive may cause sexual abnormalities in some invertebrates, acutely affecting the food chain.
While the final outline for the June 1997 AMAP report is still in flux, the process by which this report is prepared is important. For example, the chapter or sectional reports on Arctic peoples' health and W radiation are being drafted by internationally recognized experts and will be circulated for peer review.

In addition to assessing the level and impact of contaminants in the Arctic, AMAP is identifying sources of contaminants for the purposes of pollution prevention investments and strategies, particularly in Russia. AMAP's work, as well as that of PAME, was instrumental in supporting action in international forums to reduce land-based sources of marine pollution, in particular, persistent organic pollutants.

Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna. CAFF is a "...distinct forum for scientists,-indigenous peoples and conservation managers engaged in Arctic flora, fauna and habitat related activities... to collaborate as appropriate for more effective research, sustainable utilization and conservation." CAFF's programs are conservation oriented, with consideration of indigenous knowledge and sustainable development. CAFF is:

  • Developing a Circumpolar Protected Area Network to promote habitat conservation through an Arctic Habitat Conservation Strategy (which includes, for example, proposed protected areas);
  • Examining conservation and sustainable use of Arctic flora and fauna through species conservation, especially rare and endangered species; for example, the Circumpolar Seabird Working Group is examining the serious decline in seabird populations (the murre, for example) from fishing gear, oil pollution and excessive exploitation, and has developed an action plan for murre conservation, which was endorsed by the Arctic ministers; and
  • Drafting a Cooperative Strategy for the Conservation of Biodiversity in the Arctic Region, consistent with the goals of the Biodiversity Convention; Finland is leading this project.

Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment

At the Second Ministerial Conference, 14-16 September 1993 at Nuuk, Greenland, the Ministers noted that recent and ongoing studies found that threats to the Arctic marine environment from land-based and maritime sources indicated that there was a need to undertake a joint process to assess the need, taking into consideration the nature of the threats, for further action or instruments on the international or national level to prevent pollution in the Arctic marine environment, and to evaluate the need for coordinated action in appropriate international forums to obtain international recognition of the particularly sensitive character of the ice-covered parts of the Arctic.

PAME has completed its preliminary review and has determined that controlling land-based sources are a priority because as much as 75-90% of the pollutants entering the marine environment are from land-based sources. Canada and the U.S. will lead in developing an Arctic Regional Action Program for land-based sources of marine pollution. As noted above, PAME's work, as well as that of AMAP, was instrumental in supporting action in international forums to reduce land-based sources of marine pollution, in particular, persistent organic pollutants. PAME has facilitated the development assistance to be provided to Russia to manage nuclear waste to eliminate the need for ocean dumping of radioactive wastes.

Canada is now coordinating efforts, through the International Maritime Organization, to develop "navigation" standards for Arctic shipping (marine transportation) .

The U.S. has taken the lead in developing offshore oil and gas development guides, because oil and gas reserves in the Arctic may dwarf those in the Middle East, and there is some exploration of, and interest by the offshore oil industry in, Arctic petroleum reserves. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has established an interagency committee, with input from nongovernmental organizations, the oil and gas industry, the State of Alaska and other interested parties, to develop a draft for consideration by other AEPS countries.

Emergency, Prevention, Preparedness and Response

The EPPR working group promotes mutual aid, early notification of significant accidents and pollution prevention through preparedness, and infrastructure investment. Significant activities of the EPPR working group include:
  • A detailed risk analysis of national activities having the potential for transboundary impacts, and the effectiveness of national and bilateral legal instruments and agreements to prevent, prepare for and respond to each (the U.S. is lead);
  • A field guide for Arctic oil spill response (Canada is lead);
  • An Arctic response.guide (a resource directory) (coordinated by Sweden); and
  • • A review of the emergency notification system (the U.S. is lead).
Every year a country has hosted a meeting of the EPPR around issues of that nation's interest. In 1994 the U.S. hosted a table-top disaster response exercise (a nuclear power plant and a leaking oil tanker). In 1995 Russia hosted a meeting on pollution prevention in Norilsk, Russia, at the site of one of the world' s largest nickel smelters, believed to be a major source of heavy metals in the Arctic. In 1996 Canada hosted a meeting in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, focused on indigenous peoples' participation in emergency planning.

Sustainable Development and Utilization

At the Second Ministerial Conference, March 1994, a task force was created to study sustainable development and utilization issues to "...propose steps governments should take to meet their commitment to sustainable development in the Arctic, including the sustainable use of renewable resources by indigenous peoples, taking into account that management, planning and development activities shall provide for conservation, sustainable use and protection of Arctic flora and fauna for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations, includ ing local populations and indigenous peoples."

The SDU Task Force has studied "trade barriers" in domestic legislation in the U.S. and Europ for economic impacts on Arctic inhabitants, specizically the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the 1973 Polar Bear Agreement, the Canadian and Greenland seal fur trade, and the European Community trade bans on furs from the trapping of wild animals in North America. The U.S. held firm against any interference with U.S. domestic policy and backsliding on existing treaties (for example, the 1973 Polar Bear Agreement) by the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy. Indeed severa studies by the task force related to the lifting of hunting and harvesting bans were suspended.

In another study, eco-tourism was used as a "case study" of sustainable development without detrimental environmental impacts.

Member countries and a permanent participant indigenous organization independently conducted and submitted studies to the SDU Task Force. For example, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference conducted a study on options for fur sealing. At the March 1996 ministerial meeting the Tasl Force on Sustainable Development and Utilization was elevated to working group status, pending the creation of the Arctic Council. Terms of reference for the working group remain contentious. The U.S. has held firm in its resolve to limit studies contrary to U.S. domestic policy and to ensure that the AEPS and the Council understand that sustainable development has large environmental preservation as well as conservation components. Critical to the future direction of this work will be terms of reference of the working group on Sustainable Development and Utilization and in particular the organization and structure of the Arctic Council through the wording of the declaration and implementing policies.

In the March 1996 Inuvik Declaration, ministerial report language laid the groundwork for the deliberations of the Sustainable Development and Utilization working group to look at the problems of pollution prevention and the upgrading of aging Russian infrastructure through cooperative bilatere and multilateral funding. The ministers also instructed that environmental impact assessment guidelines be developed. (Finland has the lead.) Interestingly, in the Arctic Council declaration, the working group on Sustainable Development and Utilization becomes the "Sustainable Develop ment" program. In initial drafts for terms of reference for this program, the U.S. position calls for n formal working group. Rather, the program would be the aggregate of sponsored projects having regional interest and support.

The deliberations prior to the signing of the Arctic Council were in large part filled with controversy with respect to the nature and scope of the Arctic Council's sustainable development activities. There were many who felt that, contrary to what the ministers may have of ficially stated, the goals of the Rio summit's statement on sustainable development were at risk of being diluted. In the end, most recognized that there are some environmental issues that are not sustainable development issues (such as nuclear waste contamination); there are some sustainable development issues that are not environmental (such as telecommunications, and drug abuse among Arctic inhabitants); and there are issues that are both (such as the indigenous peoples' concerns about trade barriers on certain natural resources on their society).

Further, there are excellent successes among indigenous people and wildlife conservation agencies co-managing natural resources and having limited environmental impacts.

The Arctic Council

Next Steps

How the Council will differ from the AEPS remains to be seen. The Council will have no enforcement authority and will likely be underfunded, as the AEPS has been. The perceived elevation of the AEPS to Council status may have some impact on deliberations and national commitments. On the other hand, the State of Alaska sees many opportunities from the new Sustainable Development Program.

Many in the environmental community view the Arctic Council as one step closer to the "Arctic Ring of Life." Public statements made by Canada's Circumpolar Ambassador suggest otherwise. The Canadian government has been touting to its northern communities a high-profile Arctic Sustainable Development Initiative, in conjunction with the creation of the Arctic Council. To some, this has meant increased harvesting of marine mammals and other wild fur-bearing animals concurrent with expanded export markets.

Norway is now the AEPS chair and secretariat, and it is also head of the working group on Sustainable Development and Utilization. As such it controls much of the agenda and schedule. Canada is the chair and secretariat of the Arctic Council. During this transition period—through the summer of 1997—there is both an Arctic Council (with Canada as the lead country) and the AEPS (with Norway as the lead country). Each has a different view of their respective roles and the role of the Arctic Council. Several of the Arctic nations would have been content to continue the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, with Norway perhaps among those who saw limited need for the Arctic Council. This dynamic, and the transition to the Arctic Council under Canadian leadership for the first years, bears watching.

Observer Participation

Details concerning observer participation and accreditation will be resolved after the new Council meets, as the first order of business is to adopt rules of procedures for its meetings and those of its working groups (programs).

Observer status to the Arctic Council will be open to nongovernmental organizations, non-Arctic states, and intergovernmental and interparliamentary global and regional organizations that "the Council determines can contribute to its work." It is intended that those already accredited as observers to the AEPS will be accredited observers to the Arctic Council.

Permanent Participants

Indigenous peoples' participation as permanent participants is similar to that of the AEPS but will be expanded to include:
  • Other Arctic organizations of indigenous peoples representing a single indigenous people residing in more than one Arctic state; or
  • More than one Arctic indigenous people residing in a single Arctic state.
The number of permanent participants (indigenous organizations participating in the Arctic Council) will always be limited to fewer than the number of member Arctic states (that is, fewer than eight). The Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat established under AEPS will continue under the Arctic Council. These permanent participant organizations will have no voting rights but will otherwise be full participants in all Council activities in a consultative capacity. There may be as many as three new permanent non-voting participants: one each from the U.S., Canada and Russia. In the U.S., the Aleut and the Athabascan peoples are exploring options, both internationally and domestically, to seek permanent participant status.

Terms of Reference

The rules and administrative operating procedures by which the Arctic Council and its programs will operate are being developed. Deliberations in the drafting of the Arctic Council Declaration were delayed by discussions on the rules of procedure for the Council and the terms of reference for the sustainable development program. Several unresolved issues will make drafting and adopting terms of reference for the new sustainable development program, as well as rules of procedures for the Council and program meetings, difficult. There has been an ongoing concern that there is insufficient dialogue or liaison among the AEPS working groups. There is much interest among most of the Senior Arctic Affairs Of ficials to require liaison among the programs, which should ensure a balanced approach to programs with both environmental and sustainable development aspects. While this may seem like good management, there were those who viewed this as an attempt to balance the Council against economic development in favor of the environment.

Russia continues to look for foreign investment to improve their infrastructure. There has been little or no money available for this. This has led some to question the effectiveness and the purpose of a nonbinding, poorly funded consensus forum, especially when dealing with the scope of problems in Russia. Further, a significant amount of foreign investment in Russia has been bilateral. In the U.S., for example, the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission has been seen by many as a better forum than the AEPS for infrastructure improvements in Russia.

The scope of activities that can be labeled "sustainable development" is quite large and is certainly diverse. Management and oversight of the projects and funding can be an administrative and operational, as well as a public policy, concern. Studies approved by the Arctic Council may carry an implicit stamp of approval and thus become an unanticipated intervention. These issues all contribute to the difficulty in drafting and adopting terms of reference.

Several unresolved issues will make drafting and adopting terms of reference for the new sustainable development program, as well as rules of procedures for the Council and program meetings, difficult. There has been an ongoing concern that there is insufficient dialogue or liaison among the AEPS working groups. There is much interest among most of the Senior Arctic Affairs Of ficials to require liaison among the programs, which should ensure a balanced approach to programs with both environmental and sustainable development aspects. While this may seem like good management, there were those who viewed this as an attempt to balance the Council against economic development in favor of the environment.

Russia continues to look for foreign investment to improve their infrastructure. There has been little or no money available for this. This has led some to question the effectiveness and the purpose of a nonbinding, poorly funded consensus forum, especially when dealing with the scope of problems in Russia. Further, a significant amount of foreign investment in Russia has been bilateral. In the U.S., for example, the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission has been seen by many as a better forum than the AEPS for infrastructure improvements in Russia.

Concluding Remarks

The AEPS and the new Arctic Council, when coupled with the recently announced U.S. policy of environmental security, should provide a strong rationale for Arctic research. Policy makers must heed the requirement, both on scientific and social grounds, for research directed toward the objectives of the AEPS and its working groups. Arctic research can also support other working groups besides AMAP and CAFF. The scientific community has an opportunity to ensure the success of the AEPS and the Arctic Council and should therefore maintain a dialogue with both state and Federal of ficials on the importance of the AEPS and Arctic Council tenets.

In the U.S. the AEPS and the Arctic Council have not been seen as strong tools of foreign policy. Perhaps the Arctic is too remote for many. The Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission has sought, for the most part, bilateral discussions and funding to address Russian nuclear waste and infrastructure problems, on an almost sister agency to sister agency level. In the U.S. many policy makers believe that work in Russia has a better chance of acceptance and success through the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission than through the AEPS.

Even with the understanding that bilateral arrangements or limited multilateral arrangements stand a better chance of success, there has been little thought by the AEPS ministers to take their findings to international funding institutions such as the World Bank or the European Development Bank to address some of the problems in Russia. That approach often comes with a price tag: seven of the eight Arctic nations are seen as wealthy and expected to have deep pockets. These international funding institutions look for donor countries to support their programs and projects. What makes the Arctic more economically valuable to a region or country than more hospitable climates? Perhaps, then, welcoming more observer countries would ease the financial burdens.

Some questions should be asked:

  • Does the U.S. have an Arctic policy? Yes, it is a well-written document drafted in an interagency process chaired by the State Department.
  • Does the U.S. have an Arctic program? Yes. Agencies have Arctic monies to support Arctic activities, but they are often subsets of larger programs. The Office of Naval Research's Arctic Nuclear Waste Assessment Program was such an example; Congress provided, however, no FY 96 or 97 monies. The interagency Arctic Policy Group functions as a clearinghouse, though some ad hoc committees do produce coherent positions for international deliberations. The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC), through the development of the U.S. Arctic Research Plan, coordinates U.S. research programs to support U.S. Arctic policy.
  • The Arctic Council is an opportunity to gel a stronger, more permanent interest in the Arctic. Next year's AMAP report and the subsequent work of PAME may be catalysts for attention. Certainly the sustainable development program has great potential.
U.S. agencies can and will work with the Arctic Council to facilitate communication and cooperation and develop bilateral and multilateral programs such as the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, AMAP and the U.S. offshore oil and gas program. The Arctic Council will serve to enhance such opportunities.


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