Arctic and Northern Policy Framework International chapter

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Our reality

Permanent Participants

Six Indigenous peoples' organizations are Permanent Participants at the Arctic Council. The category of "Permanent Participant" was created to provide for the active participation and full consultation of the Arctic Indigenous representatives within the Arctic Council.

Indigenous peoples from Canada are represented by the following organizations:

  • Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC) represents approximately 45,000 people across Northwest Territories, Yukon and Alaska.
  • Gwich'in Council International (GCI) represents approximately 9,000 Gwich'in in Northwest Territories, Yukon and Alaska.
  • Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) represents approximately 160,000 Inuit of Canada, Alaska, Chukotka (Russia) and Greenland.

Canada is one of eight Arctic states; the others are Kingdom of Denmark (including Greenland and Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. There are 4 million people living in the circumpolar Arctic, including approximately half a million Indigenous peoples.

The circumpolar Arctic is well known for its high level of international cooperation on a broad range of issues, a product of the robust rules-based international order that is the sum of international rules, norms and institutions that govern international affairs in the Arctic. Despite increased interest in the region from both Arctic and non-Arctic states, Canada continues to cooperate effectively with international and domestic partners to ensure the Arctic remains a region of peace and stability.

For Canada, the Arctic Council is the pre-eminent forum for Arctic cooperation. Established in 1996 in Ottawa, the Council brings together Arctic states, Indigenous peoples and observers to address sustainable development and environmental protection of the Arctic, issues of importance to Northerners. The Council is especially notable for the inclusion of Indigenous peoples' organizations that sit at the table alongside Arctic states to participate in discussions. This arrangement has been crucial to the Arctic Council's success, as it ensures Indigenous voices are heard and reflected in Arctic Council deliberations and decisions.

The Arctic Council's work has led to the development of other forums that examine specific issues, such as coordinated response to emergencies at sea through the Arctic Coast Guard Forum; economic development through the Arctic Economic Council; and circumpolar education and research through the University of the Arctic (UArctic). Other multilateral institutions that are important to Canada include a number of United Nations organizations that make decisions affecting the Arctic on a wide range of issues including climate change, shipping and contaminants.

An extensive international legal framework applies to the Arctic Ocean. The law of the sea, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), sets out states' rights, jurisdiction and obligations in various maritime zones, the delineation of the outer limits of the continental shelf, navigation, managing natural resources, the protection of the marine environment and other uses of the sea.

Canada is one of five Arctic Ocean Coastal States (A5); the others are Kingdom of Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States. The A5 have a clear interest in decision-making related to the management of the Arctic Ocean.

There are an increasing number of legally binding treaties on a wide range of Arctic-specific issues. The Arctic Council has provided a forum for the negotiation of three important legally binding treaties on scientific cooperation, oil spill preparedness and response, and search and rescue. Treaties have also been negotiated outside the auspices of the Arctic Council on issues such as fisheries, polar bear and caribou management, to name only a few.

While Canada has a long history of bilateral cooperation with Arctic states to address Arctic-related issues, cooperation with non-Arctic states is a new but growing area of cooperation. Thirteen non-Arctic states from Europe and Asia have been admitted as accredited observers to the Arctic Council. Many of these states have developed their own Arctic policies and strategies and are looking to increase their engagement in the region.

International cooperation in the Arctic, as in other regions of the world, is guided by the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda is a people-centred global framework focussing on 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that balance the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development and integrate peace, governance and justice elements. The SDGs are universal in nature, meaning that Canada has committed to implementing them at home and abroad.

Challenges and opportunities

The Arctic is a geopolitically important region. Global interest in this region is surging as climate change and natural hazards profoundly affect the Arctic. Climate-driven changes are making Arctic waters more accessible, leading to growing international interest in the prospects for Arctic shipping, fisheries and natural resources development. At the same time, there is growing international interest in protecting the fragile Arctic ecosystem from the impacts of climate change.

The Government of Canada is firmly asserting its presence in the North. Canada's Arctic sovereignty is longstanding and well established. Every day, through a wide range of activities, governments, Indigenous peoples, and local communities all express Canada's enduring sovereignty over its Arctic lands and waters. Canada will continue to exercise the full extent of its rights and sovereignty over its land territory and its Arctic waters, including the Northwest Passage.

Looking to the future, Canada sees three key opportunities in the circumpolar Arctic:

  1. Strengthen the rules-based international order in the Arctic, which has already helped ensure the region remains peaceful and stable. The international order in the Arctic is not static; rules and processes evolve over time to address new opportunities and challenges. Canada has an opportunity to bolster its international leadership to ensure that the evolving international order in the Arctic is shaped in a manner that protects and promotes Canadian interests and values, such as human and environmental security, gender equality and meaningful engagement of Northerners, especially Indigenous peoples.
  2. More clearly define Canada's Arctic boundaries, including by defining the outer limits of Canada's continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean and seeking appropriate opportunities to resolve outstanding boundary issues. International rules and institutions will play an important role in helping Canada address these issues.
  3. Broaden Canada's international engagement to contribute to the priorities of Canada's Arctic and north, including socio-economic development, enhanced knowledge, environmental protection and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. In a globalized world, addressing many of the issues facing Canada's Arctic and north requires all levels of government to use both domestic and international policy levers. This work will be guided by Canada's commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to advance Indigenous rights globally.

Across these proposed areas of circumpolar cooperation, Canada continues to champion the integration of diversity and gender considerations into projects and initiatives, guided by Canada's feminist foreign policy. Like other Canadians, Arctic and northern peoples are diverse, and policy solutions must be tailored to their unique needs with respect to gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and socio-economic status. We know from practice that respect for diversity and gender equality is a source of strength and can drive socio-economic development in the circumpolar Arctic.

Priorities and proposed activities

Moving forward, Canada will pursue a vigorous and principled international Arctic policy that positions us to address these three key opportunities facing the circumpolar Arctic. To meet these opportunities, Canada's international activities will be guided by the six following goals.

Goal: The rules-based international order in the Arctic responds effectively to new challenges and opportunities

Canada's international engagement will contribute to the following objectives:

  • Bolster Canadian leadership in multilateral forums where polar issues are discussed and decided upon
  • Enhance the representation and participation of Arctic and northern Canadians in relevant international forums and negotiations
  • Strengthen bilateral cooperation with Arctic and key non-Arctic states and actors
  • Define more clearly Canada's marine areas and boundaries in the Arctic

An effective rules-based international order in the Arctic is essential for maintaining peace and stability in the region and helping Arctic and northern peoples thrive socially, economically and environmentally. Canada will both utilize and support the international order in four key ways.

First, we will strengthen our leadership and engagement in the key multilateral forums that make decisions affecting the Arctic. We will focus our engagement in the Arctic Council, seeking to increase the impact of its work to Northerners. We will prioritize meaningful Canadian participation and contributions to the work of the Arctic Council's working groups and task forces, with a particular focus on bolstering the Council's work on the human dimension, including social, health, economic and cultural issues. We will also continue to advocate for the modernization of the Arctic Council, notably its ongoing transition from a policy-shaping to a policy-making body, improve monitoring and reporting of national implementation of Arctic Council recommendations and decisions, and enhance strategic communication of the Arctic Council's work at home and abroad.

As a coastal state, Canada will work with partners to enhance management of the Arctic Ocean through, among others, implementing the Agreement to Prevent Unregulated Fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean. Upon its entry into force, Canada will have a legal obligation to advance the Agreement's objectives, particularly in support of a joint program of scientific research and monitoring. We will also engage in other key multilateral forums including the Arctic Economic Council, Arctic Coast Guard Forum, North Atlantic Treaty Organization and key UN organizations that make decisions affecting the Arctic, such as the International Maritime Organization and the World Meteorological Organization.

Enhancing Canada's Global Arctic Leadership

Canada is strongly committed to enhancing our leadership in the Arctic Council in support of the rules-based international order in the Arctic.

To support this objective, Canada commits to the following actions:

  • strengthening Government of Canada capacity to contribute to the work of the Arctic Council's working groups and task forces;
  • establishing a Canadian-based permanent secretariat for the Sustainable Development Working Group that will bolster the Arctic Council's work on the human dimension; and,
  • providing increased, coordinated and stable funding to strengthen the capacity of the Canada-based Indigenous Permanent Participants to engage in Arctic Council projects.

Second, Canada will enhance the representation and participation of Arctic and northern Canadians, especially Indigenous peoples, in relevant international forums and negotiations. In the Arctic Council, Canada has seen firsthand the valuable contributions Indigenous peoples and Northerners make by bringing their unique concerns and perspectives to the table and how this leads to better decision making. However, Indigenous Permanent Participants face considerable capacity challenges keeping up with the growing workload of the Arctic Council and other multilateral forums that make decisions affecting the Arctic. Canada will, therefore, seek to enhance the capacity of the Canada-based Indigenous Permanent Participants and champion the enhanced representation of Arctic and northern Indigenous peoples in relevant international forums, key multi-stakeholder events, and treaty negotiations.

Canada will also take a more collaborative approach to international Arctic policy through early and sustained engagement with territorial and provincial governments, Indigenous partners and Arctic and northern peoples more generally. We will strengthen existing domestic engagement mechanisms on Canada's international Arctic policy that bring together federal, territorial, provincial and Indigenous officials. We will promote opportunities for territorial, provincial and Indigenous partners to support or join the Canadian delegation at international Arctic meetings, key multi-stakeholder events such as Arctic Circle and treaty negotiations. We will enhance domestic communication efforts to inform and keep Arctic and northern peoples up-to-date on the full breadth of Canada's international Arctic engagement. We will also increase engagement with Arctic and northern youth and civil society in order to create new partnerships in support of shared objectives in the region.

Third, Canada will strengthen bilateral cooperation with Arctic and key non-Arctic states and actors by leveraging its global network of diplomatic missions. Specifically, we will target cooperation with our North American Arctic partners: the United States-Alaska and Kingdom of Denmark-Greenland. Demographic, geographic and socio-economic similarities between the Canadian Arctic and north, Alaska and Greenland provide a strong case for cooperation. We will also work closely with territorial, provincial and Indigenous partners to identify opportunities for new or enhanced sub-national cooperation with Alaska and Greenland. We will also expand our engagement in existing bilateral partnerships, such as the North American Aerospace Defence Command.

Additionally, we will regularize a bilateral dialogue with the United States on Arctic issues as this will strengthen the leadership role both countries take on Arctic issues and enhance the Canada-U.S. bilateral relationship across government and with Northerners.

We will pursue enhanced cooperation with the five Nordic states (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) as like-minded partners in the Arctic that provide important regional perspectives. We will achieve this goal by seeking to establish regular bilateral Arctic dialogues with the Nordic states and exploring regional cooperation on a project basis with interested Nordic bodies such as the Nordic Council of Ministers.

We will take steps to restart a regular bilateral dialogue on Arctic issues with Russia in key areas related to Indigenous issues, scientific cooperation, environmental protection, shipping and search and rescue. Such dialogues recognize the common interests, priorities and challenges faced by Canada, Russia and our respective Arctic and northern communities as they struggle to adapt to and thrive in rapidly changing conditions, such as sea-ice loss, permafrost thaw and land erosion.

Continental Shelf

On May 23, 2019 Canada filed a 2100-page submission on the outer limits of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean. The submission was prepared in accordance with the scientific and legal requirements set out in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It includes 1.2 million square kilometres of seabed and subsoil in the Arctic Ocean and includes the North Pole.

We will also consider establishing Arctic dialogues with key non-Arctic states and actors, where practical, to discuss issues of mutual interest. We will prioritize cooperation with non-Arctic states and actors whose values and scientific, environmental and/or economic interests align with the priorities of Canada's Arctic and northern peoples as well as Canada's national security interests. Another criterion for cooperation will focus on non-Arctic states who uphold Arctic and northern values and interests, such as sustainable harvesting of Arctic wildlife and the Indigenous right to self-determination.

Fourth, Canada will work to more clearly define its marine areas and boundaries in the Arctic. Canada has filed a submission on the outer limits of its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and will carry out the necessary post-filing work required to gain international recognition for these outer limits. We will also seek appropriate opportunities to resolve, peacefully and in accordance with international law, Canada's three outstanding boundary disputes, one with the United States in the Beaufort Sea and two with the Kingdom of Denmark regarding the Lincoln Sea and Hans Island, as well as any continental shelf overlaps. Further, we will modernize the data used to establish the baselines from which Canada's maritime zones in the Arctic are measured.

Goal: Canadian Arctic and northern Indigenous peoples are resilient and healthy

Canada's international engagement will contribute to the following objectives:

  • Eradicate hunger
  • Reduce suicides
  • Strengthen mental and physical well-being
  • Create an environment in which children will thrive, through a focus on education, culture, health and well-being
  • Close the gaps in education outcomes
  • Provide ongoing learning and skills development opportunities, including Indigenous-based knowledge and skills
  • Strengthen Indigenous cultural and family connections across international boundaries

Peoples and communities will continue to be at the heart of Canada's international Arctic engagement. Canada will target its international engagement to advance the goal of healthy and resilient Arctic and northern peoples, both at home and abroad. Canada's international engagement will be undertaken in an integrated and holistic manner, in recognition that physical and mental health, education, food security and economic development are all interconnected.

Youth engagement

As a significant demographic in the Canadian Arctic and north, youth are an asset in developing resilient and healthy communities. Canada is committed to providing our Arctic and northern youth with increased opportunities to participate in, and benefit from, Canada's international Arctic agenda.

To support this objective, Canada commits to the following actions:

  • strategically increasing the University of the Arctic's (an international network of universities, colleges, research institutes and other organizations concerned with education and research in and about the Arctic) activities and programming in Canada's Arctic and north; and,
  • enhancing opportunities for youth engagement in the development and implementation of Canada's international Arctic policy and programming.

Canada's international policy will help foster learning and skills development opportunities to Arctic and northern peoples. We will support circumpolar exchange of information and best practices on early learning as well as post-secondary and early career skills development in remote Arctic and northern communities. We will also continue to pursue measures that provide Canada's Arctic and northern youth with international learning opportunities.

Food security is a critical issue for Canada's Arctic and northern peoples. Canada will work with other Arctic states to identify best practices for increasing the region's food production in support of enhanced food security. We know that Indigenous peoples and women are disproportionately affected by food insecurity, and we will account for that as we undertake this work.

Delivering health-care services can be challenging in the Arctic and north due to the lack of infrastructure and trained professionals, the small populations spread out over vast distances and a need to deliver services in an inclusive, culturally appropriate and responsive manner. Arctic states have pursued different measures for mitigating these challenges, and this presents opportunities to learn from each other's experiences. Canada will prioritize circumpolar exchange of information and best practices and develop culturally relevant and gender-sensitive initiatives related to health and mental wellness in Arctic and northern communities, with a focus on suicide prevention.

Canada recognises the need to take action to help strengthen long-standing Arctic and northern Indigenous cultural and family connections across international boundaries. The drawing of boundaries between states separated Indigenous families and cultures and limited their freedom of movement and trade, which has negatively affected many Indigenous communities. We will work to reduce barriers to the mobility of First Nations and Inuit across the Canada-Alaska border, and Inuit mobility across the Canada-Greenland boundary.

Goal: Strong, sustainable, diversified and inclusive local and regional economies

Canada's international engagement will contribute to the following objective:

  • Enhance opportunities for trade and investment

From the development of world-class mines to globally acclaimed arts and culture to a robust tourism industry that attracts visitors from around the globe, Canada's Arctic and north has the potential to become a major exporting region and a leading destination for foreign investment. Canada will help fulfill the region's economic potential through enhanced international trade and foreign investment opportunities, which will build on the region's already strong $2.2 billion in annual exports.Footnote 1 Our approach to international trade and foreign investment will be guided by the Pan-Territorial Vision for Sustainable Development, which emphasizes resource development, economic diversification, infrastructure and innovation.

To date, Canada has negotiated 14 international trade agreements that provide access for Canadian exporters to 1.5 billion consumers and $9.3 trillion in combined gross domestic product. While access to international markets is vital, it is not enough to create jobs and prosperity for Arctic and northern peoples. Canada must do a better job at helping Arctic and northern businesses (with unique needs compared to southern businesses) actively pursue international economic opportunities that are aligned with local interests and values.

To address this gap, Canada will use its Trade Commissioner Service to better connect Arctic and northern businesses—including Indigenous-led businesses and women entrepreneurs—with export opportunities provided by free trade agreements, increase their awareness of Canadian Trade Commissioner Service resources, and help them attract and retain foreign direct investment that increases Canada's competitiveness and safeguards our national security. In addition, through programs such as the National Trade Corridors Fund, Canada will also prioritize investments that strengthen the efficiency, resilience and safety of Arctic and northern transportation infrastructure and support international trade to and from Canada's Arctic and north.

In line with its Trade Diversification Strategy, Canada is advancing an inclusive approach to trade that ensures all segments of society, including under-represented groups, can take advantage of the opportunities that flow from trade and investment. The approach includes engaging in ongoing dialogue with a wide range of Indigenous partners, so that the Arctic and Indigenous perspectives are reflected in Canada's trade agreements. For example, in the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement, Canada successfully incorporated a general exception that confirms Canada can adopt or maintain measures it deems necessary to fulfill its legal obligations to Indigenous peoples. Other provisions recognize the role and priorities of Indigenous peoples in chapters including environment, investment, textiles and apparel goods, seeking to move toward a more equitable approach for Indigenous peoples in their access to, and ability to benefit from, trade and investment.

Canada will work with Indigenous peoples to engage internationally in support of traditional livelihoods including hunting, fishing and the arts. Specifically, we will support and promote international trade and market access for Indigenous harvested and produced goods, which are too often the targets of unfair trade barriers and animal rights campaigns. We will continue to work closely with Indigenous peoples to ensure that Indigenous and commercial harvesting of Arctic wildlife in Canada is sustainable and effectively managed, and that resources are conserved for future generations.

Canada will support circumpolar business-to-business activities through the Arctic Economic Council (AEC), a product of Canadian leadership and diplomacy. The AEC aims to facilitate responsible business and economic development of the Arctic and its communities by sharing and advocating for best practices, technological solutions and standards. We will enhance Canadian representation and contributions to the work of the AEC to ensure Canadian interests are well represented in its work.

Goal: Knowledge and understanding guides decision making

Canada's international engagement will contribute to the following objective:

  • Increase international polar science and research collaboration with full inclusion of Indigenous knowledge

International cooperation can help us eliminate gaps in our knowledge of the Arctic and north, particularly given the complexities, interconnectedness and costs related to polar science and research. Canada is well placed to play a central role, given our world-class monitoring and research infrastructure assets and our international reputation for high-quality Arctic knowledge and research.

We will achieve our objective of increasing international polar science and research collaboration by providing support for Canadian researchers, including Indigenous knowledge holders conducting international science and research collaboration projects in the circumpolar Arctic. We will complete a review of Canada's international science, technology and innovation agreements to identify opportunities for incorporating Arctic components. We will also strengthen our participation in relevant international scientific and technical bodies, including the working groups of the Arctic Council, Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks, International Arctic Science Committee, Arctic Spatial Data Infrastructure and Open Geospatial Consortium.

Canada will prioritize implementing the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation,which seeks to enhance circumpolar cooperation that advances our knowledge of the Arctic. We will promote research that values early and sustained collaboration with Arctic peoples and Northerners, and incorporates Indigenous knowledge alongside science in research efforts. We will also improve the international sharing of scientific data and facilitate the movement of recognized international researchers and equipment within our boundaries. In particular, international scientists will be welcomed to our cutting-edge labs and facilities, including the new Canadian High Arctic Research Station campus in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. We will also ensure that international researchers are informed and respectful of existing laws, regulations, permitting schemes and the expectations of the region/community they seek to operate in.

While there is growing appreciation of how Indigenous knowledge improves our understanding of the Arctic and north, barriers remain to its equitable and respectful inclusion within international forums. Given our experience in incorporating Indigenous knowledge in domestic decision making, Canada will champion the meaningful inclusion of Indigenous knowledge in international forums that make decisions affecting the Arctic. Alongside Indigenous representatives from Canada, we will seek international support for the terminology of Indigenous knowledge and we will advocate for meaningful and respectful partnerships between Arctic researchers and Indigenous knowledge holders in producing new knowledge.

Goal: Canadian Arctic and northern ecosystems are healthy and resilient

Canada's international engagement will contribute to the following objectives:

  • Accelerate and intensify national and international reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and short-lived climate pollutants
  • Ensure conservation, restoration and sustainable use of ecosystems and species
  • Support sustainable use of species by Indigenous peoples
  • Partner with territories, provinces and Indigenous peoples to recognize, manage and conserve culturally and environmentally significant areas
  • Facilitate greater understanding of climate change impacts and adaptation options through monitoring and research, including Indigenous-led and community-based approaches
  • Enhance support for climate adaptation and resilience efforts
  • Enhance understanding of the vulnerabilities of ecosystems and biodiversity and the effects of environmental change
  • Ensure safe and environmentally-responsible shipping
  • Strengthen pollution prevention and mitigation regionally, nationally and internationally

The circumpolar Arctic is warming two to three times more rapidly than the global mean, even though the region is not a leading source of anthropogenic GHG emissions. Canada is taking ambitious action at home to reduce GHG emissions and drive clean growth, but these actions alone will not be enough to avert the climate change impacts already being experienced in the region. In order to slow the rate of climate change, Canada must work with countries around the world, especially major emitters, to accelerate and intensify international reductions of GHG emissions and short-lived climate pollutants.

To achieve this objective, Canada supports early, ambitious and full domestic and international implementation of the Paris Agreement, including the goal of holding the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. Recent studies indicate that strong and immediate global action on both carbon dioxide and short-lived climate pollutants is needed to meet these temperature goals. We will support and enhance international efforts through the Arctic Council, UN bodies and other forums to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, especially black carbon, which has a disproportionate impact on the Arctic. We will facilitate and support the enhancement of Indigenous peoples' international action on climate change issues under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, including by advancing the implementation of its Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, supporting the establishment of the Indigenous Peoples Focal Point and seeking opportunities to enhance the meaningful involvement of Arctic and northern Indigenous youth. Finally, we will champion a number of circumpolar initiatives that support the development and deployment of green energy in Arctic and northern communities, including initiatives related to exchanging knowledge and expertise on renewable and alternative energy technologies.

Canada will also prioritize international cooperation to strengthen the climate resiliency of Arctic and northern peoples, taking into consideration that women and men sometimes experience certain effects of climate change differently. Arctic and northern communities, including Indigenous peoples, are among the most exposed to the impacts of climate change, which affects infrastructure, sources of food and water, and physical and mental health. Canada will contribute to the development of tools and scientific assessments on climate change through the Arctic Council, the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, where we are committed to strengthening the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge. We will also exchange knowledge and best practices on climate change adaptation through the Arctic Council and other forums, with the goal of increasing local and Indigenous capacity to understand and respond to the impacts of climate change. Canada's space assets (e.g. satellites and associated infrastructure) and Earth observation data will support informed environmental and regulatory decisions and enhance knowledge of changing permafrost, ice, snow, glaciers and ecosystems.

Given our extensive Arctic coastline, Canada will champion regional and international cooperation to protect the Arctic marine environment that is evidence-based and respectful of sub-national and Indigenous interests. The Arctic marine environment is undergoing profound changes from climate change, including acidification and sea ice melt, which is negatively affecting marine biodiversity and the local and Indigenous communities who rely on these waters as a travel corridor and source of food and income. We will encourage the timely ratification and implementation of theInternational Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean and are committed to actively contributing to the joint program of scientific research and monitoring, under which Arctic fisheries-related research and monitoring are expected to increase.

Canada will cooperate with neighbouring and other states on sustainable marine spatial management of shared ocean areas, including through the establishment of evidence-based marine protected areas. We will work internationally to conserve and protect marine areas of ecological, biological and cultural significance, which may be transboundary or extend beyond Canadian waters. In particular, Canada will partner with Inuit communities and organizations, the governments of Nunavut, Greenland and Denmark and the Inuit Circumpolar Council to expeditiously implement measures in response to the recommendations of the Pikialasorsuaq Commission. We will take an active role in supporting the development of a pan-Arctic network of marine protected areas at the Arctic Council and we will continue to partner with Indigenous peoples to recognize and manage culturally and environmentally significant areas and pursue additional conservation measures, including those led through Indigenous management authorities.

Shipping through Arctic waters is expected to increase, presenting risks to the fragile Arctic marine environment if not managed carefully. International cooperation is therefore essential for managing these risks while protecting competitiveness, given the global nature of shipping. The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters, adopted in 2015 and known as the Polar Code, sets out international safety and pollution prevention regulations. Canada will continue to explore opportunities for the international community to address other safety and separate environmental issues not currently captured by the Polar Code, including its potential application to other types of ships, as well as issues such as underwater noise and grey water. We will support international efforts to mitigate the risks posed by heavy fuel oil. We will also lead efforts at the Arctic Council and other forums to support the environmental and cultural goals of low-impact shipping corridors, recognizing that safe and efficient marine transportation is key to economic development and to unlocking commercial opportunities in Canada's Arctic and north.

Canada will continue to actively engage in international cooperation to reduce releasing contaminants that may have harmful impacts on human health (especially on Indigenous women and children), wildlife and the environment. While most of these contaminants originate elsewhere, they are found throughout the Arctic and include persistent organic pollutants (POPs), mercury, chemicals of emerging concern, hazardous waste and other types of waste such as marine litter and microplastics. Canada will build on the successful history of international cooperation through the Arctic Council, UN organizations and other forums to ensure that existing multilateral agreements on POPs and mercury are implemented, new pollution is prevented and the effectiveness of these agreements is monitored. We will also work to extend the endorsement of the Ocean Plastics Charter to other countries and encourage further action from Arctic states on marine litter, including plastics and microplastics.

Canada will ensure international cooperation is in place to effectively conserve Arctic biodiversity. We will ensure existing international agreements are implemented, honoured and remain effective in conserving Arctic biodiversity. In particular, we will prioritize cooperation with the United States to ensure the protection and long-term survival of the Porcupine caribou, a species that is vital to Gwich'in culture and livelihood. We will maintain an active and constructive role in efforts related to a new UN agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. We will also ensure continued Indigenous representation in binational management boards, such as the Yukon River Panel and Porcupine Caribou Management Board.

At the same time, Canada will advocate against international efforts that are not supported by science or Indigenous knowledge that seek to prohibit the sustainable use of Arctic wildlife. We will continue to ensure that Indigenous and commercial harvesting of Arctic wildlife in Canada is sustainable and effectively managed, and the resources are conserved for future generations.

Goal: Reconciliation supports self-determination and nurtures mutually respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples

Canada's international engagement will contribute to the following objective:

  • Reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen the cultures of Arctic and Northern Indigenous peoples, including their languages and knowledge systems

Canada will use its international engagement to preserve and promote Arctic and northern Indigenous languages, many of which transcend national boundaries. Indigenous languages are essential for the preservation of Indigenous culture and the well-being of Indigenous peoples and communities. Due to globalization and past government policy, the survival of Indigenous languages across the circumpolar region is under increasing threat. We will work with our Arctic partners to facilitate knowledge exchange and best practices related to Indigenous language assessment, monitoring and revitalization.

Canada will promote its globally renowned Arctic and northern arts and culture sector. Arts and culture have served as important forms of self-expression that have enhanced mental and spiritual well-being and are important sources of economic income for Indigenous peoples. We will encourage and enable collaboration between Arctic and northern Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, creators and cultural agencies across the circumpolar region. We will also enhance international marketing and promotion of artists from Canada's Arctic and north.

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