Arctic biodiversity challenges and global connections

Hosts: Finland | CAFF |

Participants: UNEP | Saami council | WWF | NatureServe | FIMinEnV

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet with manifold impacts on the ecosystems. Climate change is by far the most serious threat to Arctic biodiversity and exacerbates all other threats (Arctic Biodiversity Assessment 2013). The Arctic Council has recognized the importance of safeguarding Arctic biodiversity under changing conditions.  Success in addressing this challenge relies on the ability of our institutions to innovate and adapt to decision-making under rapidly changing conditions often without complete information.

The Arctic Council’s Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF) through partnerships between Arctic states, Indigenous organisations, international biodiversity-related organizations, the private sector and civil society addresses the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, helping to promote practices resulting in the sustainable use of the Arctic’s living resources. CAFF, through its Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP) provides the ability to evaluate the state of the Arctic’s biodiversity, thereby providing a measure against which progress towards State implementation of the SDGs across the circumpolar world can be evaluated.

This side-event will:

  • Focus on recent information on changes in Arctic biodiversity
  • Address the challenges facing Arctic biodiversity
  • Consider the state of the Arctic ecosystems including how they have global impacts; and
  • Address how the challenges facing Arctic biodiversity are interconnected, requiring
  • comprehensive solutions and international cooperation


  • Ministry of the Environment, Finland: Opening, Mr Ilkka Heikkinen, Nature Conservation Adviser.
  • CAFF: Arctic Biodiversity challenges and solutions, Ms Carolina Caceres, Manager, Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • UN Environment: Arctic Strategy, Mr Neville Ash, Director, UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre
  • NatureServe: CBD reporting dashboard – model for the Arctic? Ms Healy Hamilton, Chief Scientist
  • Saami Council: Salmon Rivers Peoples’ project, Mr Aslak Holmberg, Vice President
  • CBD Secretariat: CDB and the Arctic, Alexander Shestakov (tbc)

Some findings from the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment:

·         Polar bears are affected by decreasing sea ice with the population of polar bears predicted to decrease by 30% in the next 45 years.

·         More than 50% of the world's wetlands are found in the Arctic and sub-Arctic. Wetlands are important for carbon storage and water cycling.

·         Northern plants are expected to lose up to 43% of their current distribution under A2 and B2 climate change scenarios.

·         The Arctic and surrounding seas produce more than 10% of global marine fisheries catches by weight

·         Of the 21 Northern languages that have gone extinct, 48% of those have disappeared since 1990.

·         Migratory species are an important ecological link between the Arctic and the rest of the world - in most areas of the Arctic more than 82% of bird species are migratory

Further information:

Topics: Aichi Biodiversity Targets, Sustainable Development / Millennium Development Goals, Indigenous people and local communities, Polar Biodiversity