Sustainable Development Working Group

The Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) focuses on the human dimensions of the Arctic. It works to protect and enhance the environment, economy, social conditions and health of Indigenous peoples and Arctic inhabitants.

Quick facts

Primary Focus:
Advancing sustainable development and improving environmental, economic and social conditions of Indigenous peoples and Arctic communities

Establishment:
1998

Current Chairmanship:
Iceland

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About SDWG

SDWG’s work generally falls into thematic areas identified in its Strategic Framework:

  • Economic assessments: Strengthen analysis and joint monitoring of economic trends and activities in the Arctic, including enhancing sustainable and diverse economic development, investments and policies.
  • Educational opportunities: Develop circumpolar networks and harness innovative technologies to build knowledge and develop skills needed to maintain vibrant communities in a changing region.
  • Heritage and culture of Arctic communities: Deepen global understanding of the region’s peoples, cultures, traditional ways of life, languages and values and promote traditional and local knowledge. Sustain and celebrate Indigenous languages, traditional lifeways and practices. Support the identification and promotion of heritage sites and areas of cultural significance in the Arctic.
  • Human health: Exchange information, assessments and innovations that can support public health systems and health service delivery with emphasis on projects that reduce death and disability from environmental risk factors, suicide and high-burden infectious and chronic diseases.
  • Infrastructure: Provide information to inform responsible and sustainable long-term investments in all forms of Arctic infrastructure while taking into account the present needs of communities as well as the changing environment through independent efforts and in coordination with other subsidiary bodies and task forces.
  • Reduction/elimination of inequalities: Strengthen and promote the adoption of sound policies for the elimination of inequalities based on age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status at all levels.
  • Science and research for sustainable development: Facilitate good use of the Arctic region’s research institutions and extensive intellectual resources to benefit sustainable development, including through academic exchanges and joint Arctic research.
  • Sustainable business involvement and development: Explore economic development, including in new and emerging sectors, and evaluate its potential benefits, including job creation and promotion of local culture and products.
  • Sustainable energy: Promote responsible and sustainable management, use and development of energy and resources as well as innovative approaches encouraging renewable energy in even the most remote Arctic communities.
  • Transportation links: Promote the development of sustainable transportation infrastructure and traditional corridors that increase the capabilities for efficient movement of people and goods that have implications for Arctic communities.
  • Water and sanitation services: Strengthen the participation of local communities in improving sustainable water, sanitation and waste disposal management with an eye to the unique engineering challenges and environmental risks that the region faces.

SDWG is led by a Chairmanship that rotates between Arctic Council Member States every two years. Iceland holds the current Chairmanship for SDWG. Arctic States and Permanent Participants participate in the work, and Observers are invited to participate at SDWG meetings. A full list of SDWG projects and reports can be found on SDWG’s website.

2019-2021 Work Plan Snapshot

SDWG’s Work Plan was developed in consideration of the 2017 SDWG Strategic Framework. The goal of the Work Plan is to promote initiatives that:

  • Enhance sustainable development and meaningful understanding in the Arctic region
  • Are applicable and valuable for Arctic communities
  • Are long-term in scope
  • Enhance circumpolar collaboration and engagement of Indigenous and Arctic communities

Two expert groups currently operate under SDWG: the Arctic Human Health Expert Group and the Social, Economic and Cultural Expert Group.

SDWG meets twice a year to discuss priorities and projects identified in the work plan.

Stefán Skjaldarson
Stefán Skjaldarson
Chair

Executive Secretary
Jennifer Spence
jennifer.spence@sdwg.org
+1-613-878-1759

Featured projects

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Good Practices for impact assessments and engagement
The Good Practices for Environmental Impact Assessment and Meaningful Engagement in the Arctic (Arctic EIA) provides Arctic-specific recommendations for large-scale projects in the vulnerable and chan...
Overview
Arctic Resilience Action Framework (ARAF)
The ARAF is a framework to advance a coordinated, regional approach to building resilience and adapting to rapid change.
Overview
Arctic Sustainable Energy Futures Toolkit
The project created a comprehensive long-­term energy planning process for socially-­desirable and economically-­feasible energy solutions for communities in the Arctic by developing an Arctic Sustain...
Overview
Arctic Remote Energy Networks Academy (ARENA)
ARENA seeks to increase human capacity, promote leadership, and deploy traditional and local knowledge through the creation of a knowledge exchange program emphasizing the development, operation, and ...
Overview
Local 2 Global: Circumpolar collaboration for suicide prevention and mental wellness
Local 2 Global aims to facilitate international collaboration and connections between circumpolar communities working to prevent suicide and support the mental wellbeing of all Arctic youth and commun...
Overview
Arctic Children: Preschool and School Education
The nomadic school project is aimed at the analysis and evaluation of educational practices without interrupting the traditional way of life of Indigenous peoples – children of nomads, providing them ...
Overview
Photo: Hjalti Hreinsson
Gender Equality in the Arctic
GEA is an international collaborative project focusing on gender equality in the Arctic, beginning in 2013. Phase 3 of the project began in 2019.
Overview
Photo: iStock / RyersonClark
One Health
A theoretical concept and practical approach for developing and sustaining broad interdisciplinary collaboration – to identify, prevent, and mitigate health risks in humans, animals and the environmen...
Overview
Cod drying. Photo: iStock
Blue Bioeconomy in the Arctic Region
The sustainable and intelligent use of renewable aquatic natural resources, with a focus on improving utilization and creating higher-value products.
Overview
Indigenous Youth, Food Knowledge and Arctic Change (EALLU) II
This project aims to maintain and further develop a sustainable and resilient reindeer husbandry in the Arctic in face of climate change and globalisation, working towards a vision of creating a bette...
Overview
Drone Photography by: Sara Wilde
Project CREATeS
Youth were invited to engage in a dialogue about suicide prevention by telling their own stories, and were supported to make these stories into digital stories, or short films.
Overview

@sdwg_chair

  • How have #Arctic communities been impacted by COVID-19?  This week’s #ArcticResilienceForum will discuss the strengths and vulnerabilities faced in the #Arctic by the global health pandemic.  Register to join the conversation! @ArcticCouncil @HKSArctic belfercenter.org/event/arctic-r… October 26 2:33 am

SDWG News

Healthy communities need healthy oceans - An Athabaskan perspective on a sustainable Arctic Ocean

Chief Gary Harrison is chairman of the Chickaloon Native Village, located North-East of Anchorage, Alaska, and representative of the Arctic Athabaskan Council. As the Arc...
19 Oct 2020
Traditional boots on ice

Virtual Arctic Resilience Forum launches in October

The second Arctic Resilience Forum will be held online as a series of ten weekly webinars launching on October 7, 2020.
21 Sep 2020

Innovating the food industry on the top of the world

For millennia, food production has supported population growth, the development of towns and cities, trade and other elements essential to successful human development. Y...
11 Sep 2020
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Events

October
26 Oct-28 Oct 2020
SDWG meeting Online
November
11 Nov-12 Nov 2020
SAO Executive Meeting Online / Reykjavik
17 Nov-19 Nov 2020
SAO Plenary Meeting Online / Reykjavik

2021

February
03 Feb-04 Feb 2021
SDWG meeting Reykjanesbær, Iceland
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