The need for an international convention or agreement on polar bear conservation was originally recognized and pursued in 1965 by delegates from the United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and the Soviet Union. Increased hunting of polar bears had led to severe pressure on the species in some regions of the Arctic, and there was a recognized need for improved management of the species. The preparations for an agreement were facilitated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in consultation with the respective governments. The IUCN/ Species Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC) Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) was formed following a request for the IUCN to provide information on effective management practices for polar bear. The Agreement was signed in Oslo on November 15, 1973, and entered into force on May 26, 1976. According to the Agreement, the Range States recognize that the polar bear is a significant resource of the Arctic region that requires protection. By signing the Agreement, the Range States agreed to undertake coordinated action pertaining to the management of polar bears throughout the circumpolar range. Since that time, ongoing collaboration among the Range States has largely eliminated the initial primary threat: overharvesting. Range State collaboration through the Agreement has also facilitated the signature of bilateral cooperative arrangements that are now in place for most shared populations.
Recognizing the success of the Agreement, the parties celebrated its 40th anniversary by participating in the International Forum on the Conservation of Polar Bears in Moscow, Russia in December 2013. At that forum, representatives of the parties of the Agreement reaffirmed their commitment to take collaborative action on conserving the polar bear by signing a Declaration of the Responsible Ministers of the Polar Bear Range States. Highlights of the 2013 Declaration include recognition that the Range States share responsibility for conservation and research actions, that the polar bear is an important global resource and an indicator of biological health in the Arctic, that addressing climate change is going to be essential for the long-term conservation of the species, and that the best available information should be shared and taken into account during decision-making. It also acknowledged the important continued role of the IUCN/SSC PBSG as the scientific advisory body for the Range States.
At the biannual meeting of the Polar Bear Agreement in Greenland in 2015, the Range States adopted a 10-year Circumpolar Action Plan (CAP) with the goal to foster and strengthen international cooperation to conserve polar bears across their range. The CAP builds on each country’s national efforts and aims to lead to more efficient and effective use of conservation resources. The vision of the CAP is to secure the long-term persistence of polar bears in the wild that represent the genetic, behavioural, and ecological diversity of the species.
Over the past 40 years, considerable progress has been made to establish domestic and inter-jurisdictional arrangements for polar bear research and management. Many of these arrangements have been formalized through legally binding and non-binding instruments. As a result of the ongoing concerted effort of all Range States, and with the support of the IUCN, an effective polar bear management regime has emerged. The Range States have held meetings every two years beginning in 2007.
Canadian-led presentations delivered at the Range States Meeting of the Parties on February 2-4, 2018:
Polar Bear Conservation and Management in Canada: 2015-2017 Update
Delivered by: Caroline Ladanowski, Government of Canada (Environment and Climate Change Canada)
Polar Bear Research in Canada: Understanding Ecology, Environmental Change and Sustainability (part 1)
Polar Bear Research in Canada: Understanding Ecology, Environmental Change and Sustainability (part 2)
Delivered by: Dr. Evan Richardson, Government of Canada (Environment and Climate Change Canada)
Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Canada, the Government of Nunavut and the Government of Greenland for the Conservation and Management of Polar Bears
Delivered by: Caroline Ladanowski, Government of Canada (Environment and Climate Change Canada) and Amalie Jessen, Government of Greenland
Inuvialuit-Inupiat Polar Bear Management Agreement in the Southern Beaufort Sea
Delivered by: Larry Carpenter, Wildlife Management Advisory Council – Northwest Territories and Taqulik Hepa, North Slope Borough Municipal Government (Department of Wildlife Management)
Wildlife Deterrence Program
Delivered by: Drikus Gissing, Government of Nunavut (Department of the Environment)
The Co-management Decision-making Process in Canada as a Best Management Practice: An Overview of Management Processes and Legal Context for Wildlife Management in the Canadian North
Delivered by: Dr. Rachel Vallender, Government of Canada (Environment and Climate Change Canada) and Gregor Gilbert, Makivik Corporation
Northern Wildlife Enforcement Network Overview – Background, Challenges, Opportunities and Next Steps
Delivered by: Caroline Ladanowski, Government of Canada (Environment and Climate Change Canada) on behalf of Sheldon Jordan, Government of Canada (Environment and Climate Change Canada)
Traditional Ecological Knowledge inclusion in Management and Research in Canada
Delivered by: James Eetoolook, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.