The last Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) meeting was held at the Vikin Maritime Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland 17-19 September. The meeting began with an Informal Open Business Dialogue 17 September with 25 representatives from a wide range of industry sectors. The Informal Open Business Dialogue provided a good opportunity for delegates to hear about the challenges and opportunities, in particular of how business can contribute to sustainable development in the Arctic.

On 17 September there was also a presentation of the ongoing work of the Arctic Human Development Report II by the project leaders. The project will present a Fact Sheet and Executive Summary for the 2013 Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna and the launch of the final report is expected in summer 2014. In addition there were presentations by the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), the International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA) and the Circumpolar Agricultural Association.

"Informal discussions with external participants are a real value added to the formal work and I hope this now has become a tradition", said one of the delegates to the meeting.

During the formal meeting 18-19 September participants were informed of the progress on the Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic (AACA) project which was approved by the Deputy Ministers Meeting in Stockholm, 15 May, 2012. The SDWG has the responsibility for section (a) of the initiative. An update will be given to the SAO’s at the meeting in Haparanda in November.

During the meeting the proposal to develop an information tool for Corporate Social Responsibility in the Arctic was approved. Sweden will invite country experts for a first meeting in the near future.

“We have been working very actively with this important file and I believe it’s a good step forward, with a concrete deliverable for the Kiruna ministerial.” says Mikael Anzén, chairman of the Sustainable Development Working Group. 

The Arctic Human Health Expert Group (AHHEG) presented an overview of their work and key initiatives. The Co-chair of the (AHHEG), Birgitta Evengård, also reported on the scoping exercise (Phase I) of the Food and Water Security project.

There were also updates on eleven ongoing SDWG projects. The participants also discussed the status of Arctic Council cross-cutting activities such as: the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA IIc), the Arctic Resilience Report (ARR) in a recorded presentation, the Arctic Ocean Review (AOR), and the work of the Ecosystem Based Management Experts Group (EBM).

Photo caption: Delegates receive a presentation from Birgitta Evengård, co-chair of the Arctic Human Health Expert Group.