The Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) meeting took place in Gällivare in Northern Sweden February 14-15. A total of 34 representatives from the Member states, Permanent Participants, PAME and AMAP Working Groups, and Observers attended the meeting.

The formal meeting was preceded by an open discussion which allowed members of the local Saami community to share information about current issues and problems that they experience. A visit to the Gällivare iron-ore mine Malmberget was also included in the schedule. This allowed meeting participants to see first-hand what role mining plays in the local community and what ecological and social effects the mine has on daily life.

“The open session can not only be a way for people within the Arctic Council to 'grasp what’s really out there' but also for the public to get an insight into the working of the Arctic Council” says Helena Omma, SDWG Vice-Chair.

During the meeting two projects were endorsed by SDWG and they will be brought to SAOs for approval at the March SAO meeting. The projects were the Circumpolar-Wide Inuit Response to the AMSA and the Arctic Maritime and Aviation Transportation Infrastructure Initiative (AMATII). In addition the meeting featured status reports on ongoing SDWG projects such as the Arctic Human Health Initiative and Reindeer Herding and Youth.  Arctic Council cross-cutting projects such as the Arctic Ocean Review (AOR) to which the SDWG will review the handling of the Human Dimension elements in the report.

SDWG will also be working to identify its own communication strategy and improve communications in collaboration with the Arctic Council Communication Strategy.

"I’m very glad to see colleagues travelling from far away visiting the northern part of Sweden. The Arctic climate was a very good setting and we had a very fruitful meeting with progress on many different files, important for the work of the SDWG” says Mikael Anzén, SDWG Chair.

The next SDWG meeting is being planned for September 2012. The meeting will most likely be held in Iceland.