March 17, 2009 10:13 ET

WWF-Canada: Countries at Polar Bear Meeting Keep Climate Discussion Under Wraps

TROMSO, NORWAY--(Marketwire - March 17, 2009) - A meeting of the parties to the agreement on the conservation on polar bears has excluded NGOs, an Indigenous organization, and other observers from the critical parts of the meeting, the parts that would discuss climate change, and the action plan of the five Arctic states involved.

The decision was formally made at the beginning of the meeting this morning in Tromso, Norway, after a closed door meeting between the heads of the national delegations yesterday.

"We do not know what these countries have to say about protecting polar bears that cannot be shared with the world," says Geoff York, polar bear coordinator for WWF. "The Norwegian Environment Minister made it clear today that the host Norwegian government wanted WWF and other interested parties to take part in this meeting. WWF applauds the Norwegian Minister for calling on the meeting to deliver strong message on climate change to the UNFCCC meeting in Copenhagen this December. It is unfortunate that some other countries are not so open and transparent. It may be that certain governments do not want to hear what we have to say about the necessity of tackling climate change as the core threat to polar bears, and their obligations under the polar bear agreement to take action to protect polar bear habitat."

WWF came to the meeting prepared to make a positive contribution to the discussions. Representatives of the conservation group were officially invited, and officially recognized as observers.

"We will continue to monitor the meeting as much as we are able, and will contribute when permitted" says York. "We will take every opportunity to remind delegates of the obligation of their governments to take urgent and effective action on protecting polar bear habitat, through a strong climate agreement in Copenhagen this December, and through other management measures."

WWF plans to present to delegates its draft plans on managing polar bears and conservation financing if given the opportunity after the meeting closes.

This press release and associated material can be found on www.panda.org.

WWF-World Wide Fund For Nature (also known as World Wildlife Fund).

Contact Information

  • WWF International Arctic Programme
    Clive Tesar
    Head of Communications
    (+47) 92 62 3030
    Email: ctesar@wwf.no
    Kyle Ferguson
    Manager, Communications
    (416) 484-7732 or Cell: (416) 819-5631
    Email: kferguson@wwfcanada.org