Adapting to change – UK policy towards the ArcticArctic tourism

The human dimension

All the UK's polices are based on the fact that the region must be one that is peaceful, stable and well governed. Therefore UK policy towards the Arctic is to support and work co-operatively and constructively with the eight Arctic States and the Arctic's indigenous peoples such as in the Arctic Council. To help to preserve stability the UK will work with close allies and partners in the region to help gain essential cold weather training needed by the military and to promote security co-operation on situational awareness and search and rescue missions.


The vast majority of the area of the Arctic falls within the jurisdiction of the eight Arctic States. It is them that the world relies on to provide the leadership and good governance of the Arctic and to make the right decisions, and where appropriate supported by the policies of the UK and the other non-Arctic states.

The Ilulissat Declaration in 2008 committed the five coastal Arctic States to the exisitng legal framework and the orderly settlement of overlapping claims, complemented by international treaties and agreements, in particular the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea.

jurisdiction map

This is a map of the frequently overlapping boundaries, jurisdictions and claims of various countries in the Arctic, produced by Durham University's International Boundaries Research Unit.

Activity: Which are the five coastal states and where are there overlapping claims?

The Arctic Council itself was formed in 1996 and has been successful in helping to promote practical co-operation and engagement between the States. The UK has been an Observer since 1996 contributing to the working groups. Some issues are purely regional but many have global impacts or are caused by global processes, therefore a wide range of groups need to be involved in the discussions.

Indigenous Peoples

Different groups have their own identities, languages, traditions and cultures. The views of the indigenous peoples towards the rapid changes in the Arctic vary as does their involvement in the decisions that affect them.

Demography of indigenous peoples of the Arctic based on linguistic groups.

Demography of indigenous peoples of the Arctic based on linguistic groups.
Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal, available at

Representatives of the six main indigenous groups in the Arctic are seated at the Arctic Council's decision making table where they are considered Permanent Participants.

The Human Dimension - download the UK's policy.

Download Case Studies of the UK's involvement in Arctic Council Working Group activities and UK science in action - UK science in action: understanding the Arctic environment.

Activity: The Arctic Council is made up of the Arctic States, the Permanent Participants and Observers. Look elsewhere on the site to see who the Permanent Participants are.


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