Read an interview with Reidar Hindrum, the new chair of CAFF, the Arctic Council's biodiversity working group...


Along with the incoming U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, many of the Arctic Council Working Groups (ACAP, AMAP, CAFF, EPPRPAME and SDWG) have also welcomed new Chairs. The incoming Chair of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the Arctic Council’s biodiversity working group, is Reidar Hindrum, a Senior Advisor with the Norwegian Environment Agency.

Q: What is your background, and how is it that you came to be the CAFF chair?

I’m a biologist, educated at the University of Trondheim in the 70s. My first job was at Tromsø Museum (associated with the University of Tromsø) where, starting in 1978, I coordinated an assessment of watercourses (e.g., rivers and streams) in northern Norway to protect against hydropower development. In 1983 I began working in Norwegian nature management, mainly at the agency in Trondheim that now is named the Norwegian Environment Agency. I also worked for three years (1991-1994) on Svalbard at the Governor’s office as an environmental officer. Beginning in 1996, I worked for one year at the Nordic Council of Ministers’ secretariat in Copenhagen to lead the start-up of the Nordic Arctic Program. Finally, starting in 2002, I worked for two years in Kathmandu leading a capacity-building project on environmental impact assessment for hydropower development.

My work has covered a broad span of environmental issues, among which I’ve been working a lot with the Arctic. I attended the first CAFF meeting in Ottawa in 1992 and the inauguration of the Arctic Council in Ottawa in 1996. CAFF has been part of my work for a long time, and I have co-led the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP) marine component since it began in 2008. I was asked to take the position as CAFF Chair because of my long relation to Arctic issues.

Q: What element of your role as CAFF chair are you most looking forward to?

I look very much forward to taking over the chair at a time when CAFF is delivering a lot of important products to guide the protection and sustainable use of Arctic biodiversity. This is perhaps the most important time in CAFF’s history. And it will be a pleasure for me to do that work together with the group of fantastic people who are part of the CAFF Board.

Q: Could you describe one or two of the most important challenges for biodiversity in the Arctic in the years ahead?

The most important challenge for Arctic biodiversity in the years ahead is, and will be, climate change. Climate change has a multitude of serious impacts on biodiversity; habitat change, increased likelihood of alien and invasive species, and the impacts of new and increasing human activity in the Arctic in general.

Q: How will CAFF be working to tackle those challenges?

The Actions for Arctic Biodiversity (AAB), approved by the Arctic Council ministers in 2015, is the implementation plan to follow up the recommendations of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA). It is a comprehensive plan describing how the whole Arctic Council community could act to implement the 17 ABA recommendations. CAFF has a leading responsibility for the implementation of the Action Plan, but all Arctic Council working groups and task forces, regional and global organizations, observer countries to the Arctic Council, and industry will find it relevant to their biodiversity conservation efforts. Improved cooperation within the Arctic Council and with relevant organizations with interests in the Arctic is very important to achieve CAFF’s goals and the implementation of the AAB. During the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council and the Norwegian Chairmanship of CAFF, the two countries will take a lead to a strengthen efforts on some of these actions, including the continued development and implementation of the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program, work on alien invasive species, implementation of the Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative, and mainstreaming biodiversity in Arctic development. It’s also a high priority for CAFF, and a personal goal of mine, to deliver the first State of the Arctic Biodiversity Report from the marine component of the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP), to Arctic Council ministers in 2017.