The International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced that it has been granted observer status at the Arctic Council. This will enable the organization to build on previous cooperation with the Arctic Council and engage in close collaboration on various issues related to shipping in the Arctic, and especially in search and rescue, pollution response and maritime safety and protection of the marine environment.
IMO has adopted the Polar Code, which provides mandatory requirements for vessels operating in the harsh environment of the Polar regions, to provide additional protection on top of current mandatory rules, regarding ship design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters.
IMO is also developing measures to reduce the risks of use and carriage of heavy fuel oil as fuel by ships in Arctic waters.
What is more, IMO’s ‘Guide on Oil Spill Response in Ice and Snow Conditions’, approved in 2016, was developed in collaboration with the Arctic Council’s Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) Working Group.
The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental organization which advances greater coordination and cooperation among the Arctic States, among other things. The members of the Arctic Council are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the US.
IMO joins four other United Nations system bodies with observer status at the Arctic Council (UNDP, UN-ECE, UNEP and WMO). The 11th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland, welcomed IMO as an observer organization.