Arctic Council

The Federal Foreign Office represents Germany in the Arctic Council and promotes German contributions to its activities. German participation has substantially increased during the past few years. National experts represent Germany in all Arctic Council Working Groups and Task Forces as well as in the Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane. The Arctic Office supports the Federal Foreign Office in the selection process of the nomination of scientific experts through its extensive scientific network.


The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. See here a short fact sheet on the Arctic Council.

The Arctic Council was founded with the Ottawa Declaration in 1996. The Declaration lists the following countries as Members of the Arctic Council: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States. In addition, six organizations representing Arctic indigenous peoples have status as Permanent Participants. The category of Permanent Participant was created to provide for active participation and full consultation with the Arctic indigenous peoples within the Council. They include: the Aleut International Association, the Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich’in Council International, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North and the Saami Council. Germany, as well as twelve other countries, has Observer status (China, France, United Kingdom, Italy, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapur, Switzerland and Spain). Additionally, 14 governmental organizations and 12 NGO’s act as Arctic Council Observers.

The Arctic Council regularly produces comprehensive, cutting-edge environmental, ecological and social assessments through its Working Groups. Arctic Council assessments and recommendations are the result of analysis and efforts undertaken by the Working Groups. Decisions of the Arctic Council are taken by consensus among the eight Arctic Council States, with full consultation and involvement of the Permanent Participants. The Chairmanship of the Arctic Council rotates every two years among the Arctic States. At the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting on 5-6 May 2019, Iceland took over the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from Finland. The standing Arctic Council Secretariat formally became operational in 2013 in Tromsø, Norway. It provides administrative capacity, institutional memory, enhances communication and outreach and general support to the activities of the Arctic Council.


The work of the Council is primarily carried out in six Working Groups

Working Group



German Experts


Arctic Contaminants Action Program


Acts as a strengthening and supporting mechanism to encourage national actions to reduce emissions and other releases of pollutants

Heike Herata

Federal Environment Agency

Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme


Monitors the Arctic environment, ecosystems and human populations, and provides scientific advice to support governments as they tackle pollution and adverse effects of climate change

Volker Rachold

German Arctic Office / Alfred Wegener Institute



Expert Group for Short-lived Climate Forcers

Andreas Herber

Alfred Wegener Institute



Expert Group on Arctic Ocean Acidification

Björn Rost

Alfred Wegener Institute



Expert Group Snow Water Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA)

Hugues Lantuit

Alfred Wegener Institute



Expert Group Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP)




Expert Group Mercury



Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group


Addresses the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, working to ensure the sustainability of the Arctic’s living resources

Gerold Lüerssen

Common Wadden Sea Secretariat



Benthos Expert Network (BEN)Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP)

Dieter Piepenburg

Alfred Wegener Institute

Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group


Works to protect the Arctic environment from the threat or impact of an accidental release of pollutants or radionuclides

Hans-Peter Damian

Federal Environment Agency

Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment


Working Group is the focal point of the Arctic Council’s activities related to the protection and sustainable use of the Arctic marine environment

Dieter Piepenburg / Jürgen Holfort / Janos Hennicke

Alfred Wegener Institute and Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency / German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation



Project Marine Litter in the Arctic

Rita Fabris / Melanie Bergmann

Federal Environment Agency /

Alfred Wegener Institute

Sustainable Development Working Group


Works to advance sustainable development in the Arctic and to improve the conditions of Arctic communities as a whole

Nina Döring / Otto Habeck

Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies / University of Hamburg

TASK FORCES AND EXPERT GROUPS The Council may also establish Task Forces or Expert Groups to carry out specific work and Expert Groups that support the Council. Currently, the Arctic Council is advised by three Task Forces and one Expert Group:

Task Force


German Experts


Task Force on Arctic Marine Cooperation


Tim Packeiser


Task Force on Telecommunications Infrastructure in the Arctic


Simon Plass


Expert Group


German Expert


Expert Group in support of implementation of the Framework for Action on Black Carbon and Methane


Kevin Hausmann

Federal Environment Agency