Climate change should be treated as an urgent crisis, says outgoing OSCE PA Special Representative on Arctic Issues in final report

COPENHAGEN, 30 September 2021 – Former OSCE PA Special Representative on Arctic Issues Torill Eidhseim (Norway) presented today a final report on her activities, covering the period May 2019 - July 2021. Eidsheim concluded her mandate as Special Representative in July and is today concluding her term in the Norwegian Parliament. On this occasion, she held a meeting with her successor, Special Representative Bryndis Haraldsdottir (Iceland) for a virtual handover of the report and an exchange of views on the work on the Arctic within the Assembly. 

SR Arctic report frontThe report features a short overview on the effects of climate change in the Arctic and on the relevance of the Arctic climate for the rest of the planet, an annotated summary of the activities conducted during the mandate, and a set of recommendations to the Assembly and to parliamentarians for further work. 

“As you will read in the report, I have focused all my efforts as Special Representative on raising awareness on the severe effects of the climate crisis in the Arctic,” Eidsheim said, “but this is not just about our natural environment – it is about people, their livelihoods and their security. The Arctic is too often mistaken for a mass of ice, while there are over 4 million people living there: they are suffering from climate change effects disproportionately to the rest of the world, we should listen to them and learn.”

She added that the Arctic should serve as an eye opener to understand climate dynamics at lower latitudes: “It is crucial to understand that what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic.”

Incoming Special Representative Bryndis Haraldsdottir expressed appreciation for the report and emphasized it will be extremely useful for the planning of her future work. “The challenges the Arctic is facing are of global nature – there is no Arctic unilateral solution,” she said.

Haraldsdottir, who worked actively in the crafting of the current Icelandic Arctic policy, also urged not to fall into the trap of talking about the Arctic as an area that simply needs to be protected. “On the contrary, we need development,” she said, “but it must be a sustainable development, based on a synergy of innovation and respect for the environment.”

The new and former Special Representatives also agreed on the need to support the excellent work of the Arctic Council and its efforts in maintaining the Arctic an area of peace and co-operation.

Chair of the OSCE PA’s General Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment Pere Joan Pons (Spain) said: “We need to step up our efforts to address the climate crisis more effectively and collaboratively. The upcoming COP26 meeting is an opportunity that should not be missed by the international community. As parliamentarians, we should prompt our governments to be more ambitious in setting their emissions reduction targets and in duly implementing long-term adaptation and financing strategies. After all, it’s now or never! Our actions to address the climate crisis will also benefit the environment and public health, which are all interconnected and at the core of our committee work.”

Secretary General Montella thanked Eidsheim for her engagement and noted the efforts of the OSCE PA International Secretariat to support her work, starting with the 2019 visit to the Svalbard Islands: “The trip to the High North has been a game changer: seeing and touching by hand what climate change really means for people in the Arctic is something that profoundly shocked all of us.”

Montella also renewed the intention to double the efforts on the climate change agenda, including by supporting the work of the economic and environmental committee. 


For the PDF version of the report, click here.

For the FlippingBook version of the report, click here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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