conference in MonacoThe conference will take place in two phases: One session devoted to discussions between experts which will itself be broken down into two parts: an inventory of environmental research in the Arctic; a focus on existing research tools and current thoughts/discussions on the creation of a network of observation stations in the Arctic; A ministerial session organized around two round tables in which ministers will participate and where recommendations by experts will be debated.

Background

The Arctic is the area in the world where the effects of climate change on the environment are most evident, should they deal with the physical environment, the populations or biodiversity. The Arctic basin also houses part of the different types of pollution emitted into the northern hemisphere. It is therefore a privileged field for observing the evolution of pollution with time as well as their effects on polar environment. Monitoring the effects of climate change upon our environment in the long run requires the pursuit of the significant effort made by countries active in scientific research in the Arctic, and their operators. The European Union has undertaken various ambitious programmes in the Arctic (including the DAMOCLES programme). The International Polar Year (2007- 2009) provides an opportunity to increase research efforts: over two thousand projects bringing together thousands of scientists from around 60 countries have been launched. Such efforts are based on observatories which, however, present some weaknesses (heterogeneity, very variable meshing according to the different regions and heterogenic standards). In order to lessen these weaknesses, it is highly desirable to strengthen cooperation between the scientific teams involved and better ensure the qualityof measures and the circulation of data. An impulse has already been given to the creation of a network of stations to observe the Arctic, both within the framework of the Arctic Council ?(the SAON group, Sustaining Arctic Observation Networks, which will present its conclusions in April 2009) and within the European framework by way of the European Polar Board. In order for this dynamic to continue beyond the International Polar Year, France, whose polar institute (IPE V) coordinates around 20 research programmes in the Arctic, decided to organize an international conference on the Arctic in the framework of its presidency of the Council of the EU and following the conclusions of the Grenelle environment forum. The Principality of Monaco, which has long had an interest in polar issues, inspired a decision adopted by the Board of Directors of UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), held in Monaco in February 2008, calling on States ‘to support and strengthen networks to observe the Arctic over coming years’. The Principality offered to organize jointly with France this international conference which will take place in Monaco on 9 and 10 November this year.

Format of the Conference

The conference will take the form of a ministerial meeting. Over one and a half days, on 9 and 10 November 2008, it will bring together experts belonging to the international scientific community and governments interested and secondly the ministers involved in Arctic issues. The Conference will bring together around 230 people and is directed at: Representatives of the governments of the 27 EU member states, Norway, Iceland, Principality of Monaco and the home rule authorities of Greenland; Representatives of member States of the Arctic Council or with scientific activities in the Arctic (including China, India, Japan and Republic of Korea); The European Institutions (European Commission, European Parliament, European Environment Agency) ; Representatives of regional and international organizations; Experts belonging to the international scientific community; Representatives of indigenous people; Representatives of civil society; Personalities with knowledge on this issue.

Expected results

A political support to the pursuit of scientific research beyond the International Polar Year as well as to intensify the work underway within the SAON group on the network of observation stations in the Arctic in order to provide elements for decision making on the prevention of environment deterioration. The launch of the process necessary to enable the creation of a network of European observatories in the Arctic which would be based on the work of the European Polar Board and the European Polar Consortium, and considered to be a contribution to the ongoing process within the SAON group.

Conference objectives

To increase public awareness on the urgent need for action to protect the Arctic from damage caused by degradation of the global environment; To provide a focus on scientific studies carried out in the Arctic within the context of the International Polar Year, broadening them into wider subjects around a central theme: the Arctic as a privileged observatory of global environmental changes, and especially the effects of climate change; To launch a political appeal to pursue scientific research beyond the International Polar Year and to create a network of Arctic observation stations for the protection of the environment.

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