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.

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The Arctic Contaminants Action Program working group (ACAP) met in Danish Environment Protection Agency premises in Copenhagen 13-14 September. The meeting was led by Jaakko Henttonen, ACAP Chair. Representatives from six Arctic states, as well as the Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat and Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), took part in the meeting. Progress was made and many items agreed upon.

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The first live search and rescue exercise among the 8 Arctic states, “SAREX 2012”, took place 10-14 September in stormy weather and high seas in a remote area along Greenland’s east coast. The exercise involved personnel, authorities, airplanes, helicopters and ships from Canada, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and the United States. It is notable that all the ships, airplanes etc. were regional units normally operating in the High North nationally and in that context the exercise was conducted in a very realistic environment.

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Around 45 people attended the Arctic Council breakfast seminar on September 6 at the 10th Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region in Akureyri, Iceland. The audience consisted of Parliamentarians from the Arctic region, Members of Parliament, senators, as well as some guests from outside the Arctic region.

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On August 26 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) informed users on their website that a new record minimum of Arctic sea ice extent had been set. The ice-cover in the Arctic continues to decrease each summer until the end of September when the trend turns and the ice begins to increase again. 

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Reports appear in the media about the sea ice in the Arctic on a daily basis, and in September coverage is expected to reach an all-time low. American researchers are already warning that Arctic sea ice has reached its lowest level since satellite records began in 1979. How is this manifesting itself? We asked Richard Gyllencreutz, who is currently on a research expedition aboard the Swedish icebreaker Oden in the Arctic.

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