Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG)

Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG)

The sustainable development program of the Arctic Council has a clear goal

  • to propose and adopt steps to be taken by the Arctic States to advance sustainable development in the Arctic, including opportunities
  • to protect and enhance the environment and the economies, culture and health of Indigenous Peoples and Arctic communities, as well as
  • to improve the environmental, economic and social conditions of Arctic communities as a whole.

The guiding tenet running throughout the work of the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) is to pursue initiatives that provide practical knowledge and contribute to building the capacity of Indigenous Peoples and Arctic communities to respond to the challenges and benefit from the opportunities emerging in the Arctic Region. 

Increasingly, the activities of the Arctic Council, across all working groups, have become cross-cutting. In this regard, the SDWG is ever more required to contribute to Arctic Council priority areas being carried out by other working groups and subsidiary bodies. The SDWG has an important contribution to make to this
cross-cutting work, particularly in the socio-economic dimension and has been exploring new ways to organize and conduct its work with the aim of taking a more strategic view of its priorities and work ahead.

SDWG Chairmanship is currently held by Sweden and the SDWG Secretariat is based in Canada.

Description of SDWG Major Areas of Activity:

Consistent with the overall work and priorities of the Arctic Council, the SDWG carries out projects and activities, as approved by the Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials, in the following thematic areas:

Arctic Human Health:
To broaden the scope and strengthen the integration of human health activities
within the Council by developing concrete initiatives to improve the health and
well-being of Indigenous Peoples and other Arctic residents.

Arctic Socio-Economic Issues:
To advance on a better understanding of the human influences on the Arctic environment and the socio-economic conditions of Indigenous Peoples and Arctic communities.

Adaptation to Climate Change:
To strengthen the work of the Council by reducing vulnerability and implementing adaptation initiatives related to climate change in the Arctic, including practical community-based actions.

Energy and Arctic Communities:
To consider future projects and activities in relation to the Arctic region as an energy consumer, and the importance of environmentally friendly economic activity in the energy sector to ongoing social and economic development in the Arctic region.

Management of Natural Resources:
To consider that Indigenous Peoples and Arctic communities rely on the sustainable use of natural resources for their health and economic well-being. Increases in shipping, petroleum activities, fishing, mining, climate change and variability require that the management of resources is based on a holistic perspective.

Arctic Cultures and Languages:
To support Arctic cultures; to reduce the loss of Arctic Indigenous languages and to follow-up on the Arctic Indigenous Languages Symposium.

Current Major Ongoing SDWG Projects 2011-2013:

Arctic Peoples:

  1. Comparative Review of Circumpolar Health Systems (Canada/Greenland)
  2. Arctic Human Health Initiative (USA)
  3. International Circumpolar Surveillance (USA)
  4. Arctic Social Indicators Phase II (Iceland)
  5. Assessment of Cultural Heritage Monuments and Sites in the Arctic (Norway)


Areas of Heightened Cultural Significance – Follow-up on AMSA Recommendation IIC (Norway)

Download SDWG 2011-2013 deliverables 

Contact us

Contact the Arctic Council Secretariat
Fram Centre, Postboks 6606 Langnes, 9296 Tromsø, Norway

  • Phone: + 47 77 75 01 40

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