As a central government authority, the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat has introduced an environmental management system in accordance with the Swedish Ordinance (2009:907) on Environmental Management in Central Government Authorities. The system is a tool for systematising and organising environmental management in the secretariat and thus contributes to environmentally sustainable development.
The Secretariat’s environmental management system largely complies with ISO 14001, which is an international standard for organising environmental management in a systematic and effective manner.
Fundamental to the Secretariat’s environmental management is integrating environmental considerations into day-to-day operations and thus minimising the environmental impact of these operations.
The Secretariat has drawn up an environmental policy as one aspect of its environmental management. The environmental policy, which was adopted in 2010, is a central document that constitutes the foundation of the secretariat’s environmental commitments.
Swedish polar research is based on research expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica. Expeditions to the Antarctic region are regulated from an environmental perspective by the international agreement of the Antarctic Treaty and its annexes and conventions, as well as by the Swedish Antarctic Act.
According to the Antarctic Treaty, it is in the interests of humanity to use Antarctica indefinitely only for peaceful purposes and research. It is important that this distinctive and sensitive environment is protected. The Arctic is not covered by similarly rigorous international agreements.
The Swedish Polar Research Secretariat applies the same environmental management, which includes environmental impact assessments, regardless of the polar region in which the expedition is taking place. In practical environmental management, great emphasis is placed on the development and utilisation of environmentally adapted technology.
The Swedish research stations in Antarctica are covered by an environmental monitoring programme that is implemented continually in order to monitor these operations’ impact on the environment. Environmental management in Antarctica is implemented in close co-operation with Finland and Norway, the results of which include an environmental handbook entitled the Nordic Environmental Handbook.