Advisory Committee on Protection of the Sea


Home Page

ACOPS Officers


UK Oil Pollution Survey

Russian Arctic

Russian Arctic 

GEF Project

African Process

Climate Change in Sub-Saharan Africa




Parliamentary Debates

Earlier Initiatives

Contact Details



The Global Importance of the Arctic


The Arctic is a very vulnerable ecosystem, where the intensification of economic activity is foreseeable because of its strategic advantages and natural riches. Although Arctic seas are relatively unpolluted, certain shelf regions and many coastal areas suffer from significant to critical environmental degradation. Most pollution is land-based, and the most dangerous substances are persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals and radionuclides. Treatment of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, and difficulties in its safe storage, also pose considerable problems.


The Arctic environment has been damaged by years of uncontrolled development, nuclear tests and industrial pollution originating both within and outside the region. Because of transboundary impacts, some estimates conclude that one-third of the heavy metal pollution entering the Arctic environment comes from industrial sources in Europe and North America. Although levels are not high, they impact a very fragile environment. Industries on the Russian coastal zone also contribute to marine pollution.


The Artic region is home to many indigenous peoples with differing cultures and traditions, which are threatened by a rapidly changing modern world and its demand for resources. The Arctic Ocean and its shelf seas are home to many unique plant and animal species, and its contributions to global biodiversity are important. In addition, it plays a major role in global climate patterns, and influences the world weather through oceanic and atmospheric circulation.


The Arctic needs and deserves our protection. ACOPS hopes that this project will be the seed for far-reaching programme of action supported by a strong partnership of international environmental agencies, sovereign governments and, crucially, the private sector. The involvement of the private sector and the integration of environmental management in future development planning and investment processes is a key objective of the project. The combined execution capabilities of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and ACOPS will be tested in bringing a sustainable, working partnership, which is unique in any regional seas programme, to the service of the Arctic.





11 Dartmouth Street, London SW1H 9BN, United Kingdom