Canada hosted the meeting of the Emergency, Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) Working Group of the Arctic Council in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory which took place June 15-16, 2011.

The United States and Canada led a plenary discussion concerning the Task Force established by the Arctic Council Ministers to develop an international instrument on Arctic marine oil pollution preparedness and response. Norway led a second plenary discussion on EPPR’s mandate to lead development of recommendations or best practices in the area of prevention of marine oil pollution. Ambassadors Mikael Eriksson of Sweden, Anton Vasiliev of Russia, and David Balton of the United States participated in the plenary discussions, providing valuable guidance to EPPRs efforts to develop strategies for organizing the Work Group’s efforts under the Nuuk Ministerial mandates.

Participants were updated on the status of the Arctic Oil Spill Response Resource and Logistic Guide, a joint, Canadian-US pilot project to develop information resource of regional capabilities for oil spill response, and progress made on the Arctic Automated Marine Vessel Emergency Rescue pilot project to form an automated mutual assistance vessel rescue network in the region. The United States briefed on four new proposals for collaboration with the Russian Federation on radiological emergency projects, and reported that Sweden will host the first regional training titled International Medical Management of Radiation Emergencies in winter 2011-2012. Denmark/Greenland provided an update of activities in Greenland as well as the CAN-DEN agreement; participants also heard from Sweden on its new Strategy for the Arctic Region. Ole Bjerkemo of Norway was elected Chair of EPPR, and Ann Heinrich will be the Vice-Chair.

EPPR participants are invited to a workshop titled: “Emergency situations in the Arctic: Prevention and Response” in Yakutsk, Russian Federation hosted by EMERCOM of Russia. This workshop will be conducted August 22-25, 2011. EPPR is also invited to the “Arctic Forum” meeting to take place in September 21-22, 2011 in Archangelsk, Russian Federation.

The meeting was opened by Grand Chief Ruth Massie of the Council of Yukon First Nations and attended by Permanent Participants representing the Arctic Athabaskan Council and the Gwich’in Council International. EPPR bid farewell to Finland’s long-standing Head of Delegation, Timo Viitanen.

Preview photo: Yukon River flowing through Whitehorse by The Arctic Council Secretariat/Linnea Nordström