I attended the Arctic Council ACAP Working Group meeting as an IASC observer. The meeting was held in Toronto, Canada from April 18-20, 2018, and was attended by approximately 25 participants from 9 countries. I attended the full meeting, with an eye to understanding the work of ACAP and thinking about ways that IASC can contribute to ACAP efforts.
The meetings on the first day consisted of ACAP expert group sessions. There are four ACAP expert groups, each with several members from the ACAP committee: (i) POPs and mercury, (ii) hazardous waste, (iii) short-lived climate pollutants, and (iv) Indigenous people contaminant action program. These latter two groups met in a series of technical discussions about current projects and directions for the year ahead. Everyone then came together to meet in plenary sessions for expert group reports and syntheses, strategic discussions, and voting matters.
ACAP expert groups were each asked to identify gaps in their coverage, within their mandate (e.g., hazardous waste; POP and mercury contaminants). The committees are well placed within their research communities to fill any gaps in expertise, but this could also be a place where IASC contributes: through identification of experts and help in recruiting from the IASC community, as appropriate.
There was a lot of talk on issues of black carbon contamination across the Arctic. Much of this comes from local fuel combustion, from communities and ships (diesel, heavy fuels, coal), and there was some sense that this may be influencing snow and ice albedo as well as water quality. These topics could involve IASC more broadly in the future.
We heard from representatives of other Arctic Council Working Groups AMAP and PAME on initiatives of potential interest to ACAP. There is a lot of overlap on some files, in particular subjects like marine pollution in Arctic waters, marine plastics as an emerging issue, oil spills in sea ice environments, and questions of long- vs. short-range contaminants.
In general, ACAP has a strong focus on action, the second A in their acronym. This distinguishes them to some degree from the other Arctic Council Working Groups. Much of their mandate is to help facilitate local clean-up projects and bring together expertise and high-level government support to address toxic sites or community concerns around soil and water quality, waste management, and in some cases, food security and environmental sustainability.
This meeting report was contributed by IASC CWG Member Shawn Marshall. If you are interested in representing IASC at an upcoming Arctic meeting, please contact the IASC Secretariat.