A new financial initiative that will fund operations working to prevent and mitigate pollution of the Arctic has been launched this week.
The Arctic Council Project Support Instrument (PSI), a funding mechanism managed by the Nordic Environmental Finance Corporation (NEFCO), became operational on Wednesday.
It will provide loans and grants to support initiatives that will help eliminate pollutants such as black carbon and POPs and efforts to manage waste and mitigate climate change.
The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the JSC VTB Bank – one of Russia’s leading banks – have also signed off on the project in order to co-ordinate actions taking place in its borders.
“This is a major step forward for environmental co-operation in the Arctic region and actually reinforces our joint efforts to finance circumpolar co-operation”, said NEFCO special adviser Husamuddin Ahmadzai.
“We will strive to identify and implement projects that will be able to improve the ecological situation in the Arctic.”
Any actions to be funded by the PSI will first have to be approved by the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental panel of eight Arctic states.
Russia has pledged $10m to the fund, while other contributors include council members such as Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the US. Some $15.9m has so far been pledged in total.
Further funding will also be taken from domestic and international banks, international financial institutions (IFIs) and private foundations and enterprises.
On Wednesday, EU MEPs voted in favour of offering greater protection to the Arctic region, including the creation of a sanctuary in the high seas of the far north.
The European Council also called for greater restrictions on industrial fishing and a binding agreement on pollution prevention for ships and rigs in the region.