The Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) working group made the transition from Russian to Finnish Chairmanship following the SAO meeting in Stockholm at the end of March.The new Chair of the working group is Mr. Jaakko Henttonen. Henttonen has a degree in Water and Sanitary Engineering and has held a variety of civil engineering positions in the past. He has also worked on environmental affairs and banking. Currently he works for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as the Manager of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership Support Fund. Mr. Henttonen has also worked with ACAP previously as the Chair of the Project Steering Group (PSG) for Obsolete Pesticides from 2003-2006.

The new Executive Secretary for ACAP is Mr. Timo Seppälä who was ACAP vice-chair during the Russian Chairmanship in 2008-2012. He has also been involved with the PSG for Obsolete Pesticides since 2001, working as a project lead since 2006. He works as a Senior Adviser for the Finnish Environment Institute, mainly implementing the Stockholm Convention and the respective restrictions on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

The Vice-Chair during the Finnish chairmanship is Ms. Ann-Sofi Israelsson.

Finland will be chairing ACAP until 2014. One of the goals for the chairmanship period is to finalize old projects in order to complete reports for delivery to the Ministerial meeting in 2013. Another priority is preparing to utilize NEFCO's Project Support Instrument (PSI) as a funding mechanism for ACAP projects.

Other short-term goals include initiating new projects such as the Integrated Hazardous Waste Management Strategy (IHWMS) and the Indigenous Peoples Contaminant Action Program (IPCAP). Finally the Finnish chairmanship also hopes to enhance the circumpolar participation in new and existing ACAP projects by encouraging expert participation from all the Arctic countries in the PSGs.

The first working group meeting under the new chairmanship will be held 13-14 September, 2012, in Copenhagen. At that meeting the WG will decide on the changes on its Operating Guidelines and discuss the deliverables to the Ministerial meeting.

Photo caption: Jaakko Henttonen on a fishing excursion