The Biennial meeting of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna working group of the Arctic Council, held Feb 1-4, 2021, was attended by 5 members of IASC TWG and MWG, as observers for IASC as well as representatives of observer states. Highlights of the meeting include deliverables for the upcoming Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in May 2021, including the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP) State of the Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Report (START) and the State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report (SAMBR). There are promising developments with youth engagement that require resources to sustain, as well as the potential to better integrate biodiversity monitoring and mitigation with mining and other industries. There are also exciting plans for a cross-cutting climate impact assessment that will explore the effects of climate change on the biology and ecology of arctic flora and fauna (including wildlife, vectors, and pathogens), as well as human impacts and adaptations to reduce vulnerability. Finally, plans were discussed regarding the implementation of the Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) and the Arctic Invasive Alien Species Strategy and Action plan (ARIAS), as well as planned updates to the Arctic Protected Areas indicator report (CAFF and Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment, PAME). Throughout the meeting, a need for better engagement of Permanent Participants such as the Inuit Circumpolar Council was noted.
IASC looks forward to working with the incoming Finnish Chairmanship for CAFF, whose priorities include engagement of Permanent Participants and Arctic youth; assessing and mitigating effects of climate change on biodiversity, ecosystem services, and arctic communities and livelihoods; co-creating and communicating on conservation of arctic biodiversity; supporting multidisciplinary research efforts in collaboration with expert networks, and supporting the development of forums for information exchange. These align well with IASC priorities to promote and support interdisciplinary research; facilitate cooperation, data, and information sharing; support sustained and coordinated observations; promote engagement of Indigenous and local residents in science activities; and increase Arctic science education, outreach, and communication.