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Arctic Yearbook 2012
25 Years of Arctic Environmental Agency: Changing Issues and Power Relations
well as to study the impacts of development activities. The strategy led to the constitution of the
Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), established in 1991 as a Task Force.
The Arctic continued to be associated with the protection of mammals during the early 1990s, with
reported declines of fur seal populations ascribed to over-hunting, including indigenous
communities’ subsistence hunting. However similar depletion of fur seal populations, like those of
sea lions, were also recorded in protected zones, which indicated that the decline in their populations
may have rather been the fact of declining biomass in the Bering sea, in particular of declining fish
on which these species feed (Osherenko & Young, 1989: 139). In 1992, the polar bear was listed
under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Fauna
(CITES), category II as “endangered species, likely to be threatened with extinction if not regulated”
(CITES, 2010). And the US protects the polar bear under the Marine Mammals Protection Act
(MMPA) and allows hunting only for Alaskan indigenous peoples who have permits and for
subsistence purposes.
Environmental Issues after UNCED: Biodiversity and Sustainable Development
The end of the 1980s was marked by the World Commission on Environment and Development
, also named the Brundtland Commission after the Norwegian former prime minister and
chair of the commission Ms. Gro Harlem Brundtland. The WCED final report ‘Our Common
Future’, was published in 1987, the same year Gorbachev pronounced his speech in Murmansk. It
made no particular reference to the Arctic, but had an entire section on Antarctica: ‘Towards Global
Cooperation’. Five years later, the Rio Conference on Sustainable Development (1992) launched the
three great environmental conventions on climate, biodiversity and desertification, the UNFCCC, the
CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) and the UNCCD (UN Convention to Combat
Desertification), again with no particular mention to the Arctic.
The non-binding Agenda 21 was a soft law commitment of the Conference aimed at involving local
and regional governments, as well as “major groups”, defined as indigenous people (spelled without
an “s” – see Article 26.1), youth and children, women, local authorities, workers and trade unions,
non-governmental organizations, business and industry, the scientific community and farmers. These
major groups were addressed without distinction of their particular claims and rights, not recognizing
a particular status to indigenous peoples. It stated that “any policies, definitions or rules affecting
access to and participation by non-governmental organizations in the work of United Nations