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The Arctic


The Arctic


The Arctic  is an area of opportunities and challenges, related to the protection of environment, recognition of interests and expectations and sustainable development of the indigenous peoples and communities, exploitation of fishing, energy and mining resources, scientific research, security and governance. Italy acknowledges that the Arctic Council has the major responsibility and plays a key role in managing the Arctic issues. At the same time Italy considers that through the international cooperation most successful results may be achieved for the benefit of the Arctic region and of the populations living there.

Italy – which is one of the nine original contracting Parties  that on 9 February 1920 in Paris signed the Spitzbergen Treaty - believes that the study and the protection of the Arctic environment is a major, global priority . For these reasons Italy welcomes those efforts which are aimed at establishing comprehensive Arctic Circumpolar observing networks, such as SAON (Sustainable Arctic Observatory Network), CBMP (Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program) on behalf of the Arctic Council, and all the initiatives aimed at monitoring the Arctic changes.

Joining the scientific efforts and strengthening cooperation between experts involved in climate change in the Arctic is necessary to give concrete answers in addressing major challenges with a global approach, in order to avoid any negative impacts on this region. Italy wishes that the heritage of the extraordinary effort expressed by the international scientific community within the International Polar Year will be maximize in the next years throughout a common effort of all Countries.

International Cooperation

Italy intends to promote the improvement of research activity and to reinforce international cooperation; Italy also aims at contributing to the IPY legacy phase and to provide a significant contribution to the observation system in the Arctic, following the guidelines recommended by SAON.

In 1993 the Italian Program in Antarctica (PNRA), the Russian Rossgydromet and the Russian Avionics enterprise Miaschishev Design Bureau, agreed on a multiyear program of Polar Stratospheric Exploration using the Russian Stratospheric Aircraft “M55- Geophysica”. In 1994, the Airborne Polar Experiment project was sponsored by the European Science Foundation and included more than 20 European and Russian Institutions. In 1955 Airborne Polar Experiment  became part of the Russian-Italian Scientific Cooperation Agreement. In 1996-67 the first scientific airborne campaign in the Arctic stratosphere was carried out based at Rovaniemi, Finland. In 2001 the project became a European Economic Interest Group (EEIG).  The project lasted ten years and achieved the most comprehensive knowledge on the ozone hole and the Polar Stratospheric Chemistry ever produced.

In 1998 an intergovernmental Agreement on Arctic Science was signed between Italy and Norway, including major Italian and Norwegian Scientific Institutions (CNR, ENEA, INGV and PNRA for Italy and NPI, NILU, NRC  for  Norway)  A Joint Italian Norwegian Scientific Commission meets every two years to improve the agreement. A number of cooperation activities have been developed in Biology, Atmosphere and Upper Atmosphere Physics, Education, as well as in logistic support.

As a partner of the SIOS Consortium, the National Research Council of Italy (CNR)  is largely contributing to develop this initiative and connect it to the other part of the Arctic Observational system. Together with the development of a supersite at Ny-Ålesund, CNR will operate to support thematic networks (Polar-AOD for aerosol and GMOS for mercury leading from CNR), and will continue to participate to the development of EU initiatives (in the frame of ESFRI) for development of large mobile platforms as Aurora Borealis and an European tropospheric aircraft.

Italy joined the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC)  in 1998. Since 2006 Italy has the chairmanship of the European Polar Board. From 2002 to 2006 Italy had the chairmanship of the Ny-Alesund Science Manager Committee (NySMAC)

Contribution to AC Working Groups

Italy is willing to continue to contribute to the work and the tasks of the Arctic Council and its WGs by offering its experience, sharing best practises, lessons learnt and skills on the most relevant Arctic issues. It is worthwhile to remind that Italy already participates as permanent Observer to the activity of the Council of the Baltic Sea and of the Euro-Barents Council.

The Italian ongoing and future activities fit with most of the targets of the Arctic Council working groups, focusing on such issues as monitoring, assessing and preventing pollution in the Arctic, climate change, biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, emergency preparedness and prevention in addition to the living conditions of the Arctic residents. Italy is willing to contribute to the scientific achievements of those Working Groups.

In particular, many Italian activities fit with the AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme Working Group) Work plan for 2009 – 2011 and tentative list of deliverables 2009 – 2013. In the framework of AMAP’s main issues such as SWIPA, non-CO2 drivers of climate change, monitoring, and relevant actions to implement ACIA follow-up,  SAON, improving climatic prevision,  there are several ongoing and future international and national initiatives, involving scientists from Italian Universities and National Research Agencies, aimed at studying specific aspects of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, monitoring climate changes and climate forcers and their impact on the Arctic, identify gaps in observations, assess and seek to improve the capacity of climate models.

Italy can provide support to monitor a large data set of parameters (radiation fluxes, aerosol, greenhouse gases, chemical fluxes, albedo, permafrost, terrestrial ecosystems/vegetation, UV and ozone, heavy metals/mercury) to improve the understanding of pollutants effect and distribution in the Arctic region. The Italian Climate Change Tower in Ny-Alesund – which was inaugurated in April 2009 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs  Hon. Frattini and the Norwegian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Walaas - is an important component of the system of Arctic infrastructures.

This allow to establish long term observing systems of marine biological and physical parameters (mooring). The experience in marine biology of Italian scientist can contribute to monitor the marine environment in proximity of oil platforms and in areas where tourism is particularly intense. This could give a significant contribution to PAME’s objective to address policy and measures related to the protection of the Arctic marine environment.

In this way each country will be allowed to contribute according to its own role to the challenging goal of developing the Arctic into an area of stability, common interests, cooperation and sustainable development, in the spirit of  better mutual understanding, mutual trust and mutual respect.