How should the Arctic Council proceed in developing
its Sustainable Development Programme?
||Under the terms of the 1996 Ottawa
Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council, this new
regionwide body has taken over the environmental initiatives of
the AEPS and grouped them into an Environmental Protection Programme.
At the same time, the declaration calls upon the council to initiate
a new, parallel set of activities in the form of a Sustainable Development
Programme. This has proven to be a difficult challenge. What exactly
does the phrase "sustainable development" encompass, and
what should be the relationship between environmental protection
and sustainable development in this setting? Understandably, some
of those who have worked hard on the environmental protection activities
established under the auspices of the AEPS fear that their efforts
will be deflected or even undermined in the name of sustainable
development in the deliberations of the Arctic Council. Others,
equally understandably, worry that the idea of sustainable development
is so encompassing that the Arctic Council will lose direction and
stumble over a variety of sensitive issues in its pursuit of sustainability.
The resultant situation constitutes both a problem and an opportunity
for the council. The cause of international cooperation at the regional
level could well founder over disagreements about this issue. Should
the council find a way to deal constructively and creatively with
the links between environmental protection and sustainable development,
on the other hand, it would immediately become a model of interest
to those struggling with similar issues in other parts of the world.
Clearly, there is no simple formula to be used in addressing this
issue. At a minimum, however, success in this realm will require
a strategic perspective that offers a solid foundation on which
to build these programs rather than a scattershot approach that
produces a hodgepodge of loosely related and sometimes conflicting