The Working Group on Environment (WGE) is one of the most active and productive Barents Working Groups. The work of WGE is organized in subgroups and prioritized themes: Barents environmental Hot Spots, Nature protection and water issues, Cleaner production and environmentally sound consumption.
WGE Chairmanship 2018-2019 is held by Sweden. Read more about the Swedish Chairmanship of the WGE in the Working Programme in English and Russian.
The Working Group on Environment (WGE) covers a wide spectrum of issues and deals with both strong priorities of the Barents Cooperation and major environmental challenges. The Subgroup on Hot Spots Exclusion (SHE) of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council's Working Group on Environment serves as the central driving force and coordinator in the work. The Subgroup on Nature and Water issues (SNW) coordinates and implements cooperation related to water management and monitoring; and areas of particular importance for biodiversity which are protected through ecologically representative networks of protected areas. The Subgoup on Nature and Water issues organizes biennially the Habitat Contact Forum – an international contact forum for habitat conservation – which gathers authorities, scientists and civil society representatives to discuss and exchange on current issues concerning forest and wetland conservation in the Barents region.
Diverse topics have been discussed at the 50th WGE meeting: a progress on hotspots exclusion in each of five subjects of the Barents region, climate change, waste disposal, Barents Forest Sector Network's progress on the Climate Action Plan, implementation of the best available technology (BAT) and environmental permit granting. Youth perspective has been highlighted by the presentation of the Joint Working Group on Youth. Follow-up questions and discussions highlighetd the need in possible cooperation on marine litter including microplastics in the Arctic.
The meeting in Skellefteå also included a site-visit to Rönnskär in Skelleftehamn which is one of the world's most efficient copper smelters.