Sustainable Development in the activities of the Northern Dimension and in the Arctic Council
The Northern Dimension partnerships' goal is to strengthen and coordinate financing to important cross-border projects relating to the environment especially in North-West Russia and Kaliningrad. The NDEP Support Fund grants funding to, for example, projects in the Baltic Sea area, which reduce the environmental load, improve waste management and contribute to energy efficiency investments.
In 2009, the Support Fund expanded its operations to Belarus. In the nuclear safety sector, the NDEP Support Fund provided support to, for example, radioactive waste management, and safe storage of spent nuclear fuel in North-West Russia.
The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP)
The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) is a successful example of concrete environmental action at a regional level. The NDEP was established in 2001 in cooperation between the Russian Federation, the European Union, International Financial Institutions (EBRD, EIB, NIB and the World Bank Group) and bilateral donors.
The Arctic Council is a high-level, intergovernmental forum for sustainable development. It comprises eight Member States: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States, and six Permanent Participants: Arctic Athabaskan Council, Aleut International Association, Gwich’in Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North and the Saami Council, representing Arctic indigenous communities.
The Arctic Council provides a mechanism to address the common concerns and challenges faced by the Arctic governments and Arctic people. It has compiled a common knowledge base and disseminates information on best practices and lessons learned. Guidelines for the Arctic Council's work on Sustainable Development are given in the Sustainable Development Framework Document, which was approved by the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in 2000.
Five expert working groups carry out the scientific work of the Arctic Council The Sustainable Development Working Group has produced three very valuable documents for the Arctic Council: the Arctic Human Development Report, the Sustainable Development Action Plan, and the Capacity Building - Best Practices hand book. Finland supports sustainable development projects that are potentially beneficial for the social and economic development of the northern communities.
The impacts of climate change in the Arctic region have been a growing concern over several years. This is reflected in the Arctic Council’s sponsorship, together with the International Arctic Science Committee, of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), the first comprehensive regional assessment of climate impacts. The ACIA is a regional assessment, which also comprehensively covers the three – environmental, economic and social – dimensions of sustainable development. The ACIA shows that climate change is progressing faster and with more far-reaching consequences in the Arctic than we have up until now realised.
The Oil and Gas Assessment and the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) are both important tasks for the Arctic Council in the coming years. The Ministers who belong to the Arctic Council decided in November 2004 to conduct a comprehensive AMSA as outlined in the Arctic Marine Strategic Plan under the guidance of Canada, Finland and the United States. The assessment focuses, among other things, on the increasing risks and environmental impacts caused by Arctic shipping.
Finland is committed to continuing its support to indigenous peoples' rights and interests, and providing advisory services and taking an active part in the Arctic Council's work by co-financing the Saami Council and by assisting the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat.
Finland will chair the Barents Euro-Arctic Council from 2013 to 2015. The Barents cooperation in the northernmost regions of Europe focuses on sustainable development and indigenous people's cooperation.