The protection of the Arctic environment was one of the main motivations for establishing the Arctic Council. In the past, the Arctic nations have played a pivotal role for several agreements on environmental protection, such as the Stockholm Convention, which can be considered as a positive example of Arctic cooperation and targeted action. However, not all Arctic States have ratified the Convention and its amendments, which regularly add pollutants to the scope of the Convention. Thus, the environmental legislation in the Arctic states does not catch up with the scientific findings and recognition of these threats.
This paper examines the efforts of the Arctic nations towards circumpolar governance and international legislation on pollutants, as well as the consequences and effectiveness of these efforts. A brief comparison of policy initiatives, in particular through a look at U.S. legislation, will serve as an illustration of the development of Arctic environmental governance over time and shed light on differences between Arctic states. An effective governance on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) requires a precautionary approach and the regular adaptation to emerging chemicals of concern. While national initiatives have achieved some success in reducing the production and use of POPs, a more comprehensive approach encompassing a list of pollutants corresponding to state-of-the-art research within a global legislative framework is needed.