The Arctic Council: Perspectives on a Changing Arctic, The Council’s Work, and Key Challenges. A Joint Memorandum of a Multilateral Audit on the Arctic States’ national authorities’ work with the Arctic Council.
We are pleased to present this memorandum highlighting the results of a cooperative effort among the Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) of five Arctic nations to better understand the Arctic Council – an intergovernmental forum to promote cooperation on Arctic issues – during a time of increased interest and changes in the Arctic. This work is important because of international interest in the Arctic and its resources. Specifically, increases in Arctic temperatures accompanied by declines in sea ice have elevated interest in economic development of the Arctic and increased pressure on ecosystems and indigenous peoples. In 1996, the eight Arctic nations established the Arctic Council as a high-level inter- governmental forum to promote cooperation, coordination, and interaction among the Arctic nations on common issues, especially sustainable development and environ- mental protection. Arctic Council Member States include Canada, The Kingdom of Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America. In addition, the Council includes Permanent Participants representing indigenous peoples, and Observers comprised of non-Arctic nations and other groups. The SAIs of five Arctic nations – led and coordinated by the SAIs of Norway and the Russian Federation collaborated on a multilateral audit of national participation in the Arctic Council. The multilateral audit has been carried out in accordance with a stra- tegic plan signed by the participating SAIs in October 2012. Through our work, we intend to inform Arctic governance and enhance the usefulness of the Council in understanding and managing Arctic issues. Our findings can assist the Council, governments, policy-makers, non-governmental organizations, the public, and researchers in understanding the primary forum for Arctic governance, the mechanisms for conducting the Council’s work, and efforts to implement joint agree- ments. The content of this memorandum represents the collective findings of individ- ual audits conducted by the five SAIs where they are similar in scope, and does not necessarily represent the views or conclusions of each SAI. Our key findings include the following: – Changes in the Arctic have elevated the importance of international cooperation in the Arctic – The Arctic Council has contributed to enhanced cooperation, governance and scientific knowledge – The Council faces key challenges related to its organizational structure, establish- ing priorities, funding its work, and ensuring the effective implementation of voluntary recommendations adopted by member states – Indigenous groups make important contributions to the council, but face challenges participating In addition to this memorandum, we invite you to read summaries of the national audits included in the Appendix and follow the hyperlinks to each national audit. The Arctic Council is an important forum for regional cooperation and a contributor of scientific knowledge. Some of the national audits identify the importance of further strengthening cooperation in the Arctic Council and include recommendations to enhance national participation in the Council.