Polar Bear Forum Adopts Declaration, Commits to Completion of 2015 Circumpolar Action Plan

polarbearlogo4 December 2013: Ministers from the five polar bear range States have signed a declaration to further polar bear conservation. The declaration recognizes the importance of work over the last forty years and commits to further conservation measures in the context of sustainable livelihoods. Parties have committed to completing a Circumpolar Action Plan by 2015, which will provide for measured and concerted actions to ensure the long-term conservation of the species.

Ministers from Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Russian Federation and the US met from 4-6 December, 2013 with representatives from international organizations and non-governmental organizations at the International Forum on Conservation of Polar Beas and Jubilee Meeting of the Parties to the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears. The Ministers signed the 'Declaration of the Responsible Ministers of the Polar Bear Range States,' in which they commit to developing a Circumpolar Action Plan, recognize the importance and value of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) for informing management decisions, and acknowledge the need for the range States to develop a common understanding of what constitutes TEK and how it should be used in polar bear management decisions.

At the Forum, Braulio Ferreira De Souza Diaz, Executive Secretary, UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), highlighted the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, noting that many of these targets, such as 10, 11, 12 and 18 are directly relevant to polar bears. John Scanlon, Secretary-General, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) emphasized that the CITES Animals Committee has not identified any problems with the biological sustainability of the trade being permitted, but noted that both CITES science committees highlighted that climate change impacts might exacerbate existing stress on the species. As a consequence, Scanlon said, international trade in polar bear, currently a CITES Appendix II-listed species, and its compliance with CITES provisions, will remain a live issue. [Statement by CBD Executive Secretary] [IUCN News Release] [CITES Secretary-General Keynote Address] [Polar Bear Forum Website] [IISD RS Sources]