Conserving polar regions

The Arctic and Antarctic are unique in the sense that their natural ecosystems are relatively undisturbed. However, once disturbed, these ecosystems are especially slow to recover from the impacts of human activities.
Several global international instruments make special provision for polar areas. For example, the 1992 Earth Summit and Agenda 21 led to the adoption of a [Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities] in 1995. This has been given an Arctic focus through the [Regional Programme of Action for the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities], endorsed by Arctic Council Ministers in the Iqaluit declaration (Arctic Council 1998).

Similarly, the 1982 [UN Convention on the Law of the Sea] includes a special provision for ice-covered areas, applicable to pollution from vessels. An [International Code of Safety for Ships Navigating in Polar Waters], setting specific safety and anti- pollution standards, is being drafted under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Neither the Arctic nor the Antarctic is covered by the UNEP Regional Seas Programme but the UNEP-led Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee is preparing an MEA on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) - negotiations are expected to be completed by the year 2000. POPs are found in both polar regions as a result of long-range transport.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 15: Life on Land