Proposal for the GEF-Russian Federation Partnership on Sustainable Environmental Management in the Arctic (“Arctic Agenda 2020”).

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Russian Delegation to the Arctic Council
"The territory of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation extends over more than 6 mln km2 in total. It comprises the Arctic marine expanses within the territorial sea and exclusive economic zone of the Russian Federation – more than 3 mln km2. The Arctic seas of Russia include the Barents, White, Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, Chukchi, and Bering seas. The land area of the Russian Arctic is about 18 percent of the entire territory of Russia or 44% of the circumpolar arc – approximately twice that of the next largest country, Canada. More than a million people live and work in the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation, including 136,000 members of 16 indigenous small nations of the North. The Arctic Ocean and its seas are globally significant because of their influence on oceanic and atmospheric circulation and because of their unique biological species, which are an essential component of global biodiversity. The Arctic makes an important contribution to the Earth’s climate stability, the global carbon balance, and the preservation of the ethnic and cultural diversity of, and traditional natural resource use by, the northern peoples. Hydrocarbons and minerals are found in quantities that are of strategic importance on a planetary scale1 as well as fisheries resources2 and large areas for raising domestic reindeer3. Seasonal assemblages of marine mammals, especially whales and other cetaceans occur 4over large areas; and bird populations in the millions find nesting grounds and flyways here . Local contamination in so called “hot spots” in some cases may be regional or circumpolar and even global in extent due to peculiarities of the Arctic region. Most of the above environmental challenges have transboundary causes and effects that justify interventions supported by the GEF. Russian Arctic including its marine and terrestrial parts is among the world’s last wilderness areas, but it’s undergoing rapid and accelerating change, stressing ecosystems and affecting well-being of its residents. Arctic is of vital importance to the plenary health and environmental changes in this region are of global significance. Among the key change drivers in the Arctic are climate and hydrologic changes, development of extractive industries, increased flux of contaminants, marine fishing, increased UV-radiation, and introduction of exotic species." /.../