More than 20% of all land that the Department of the Interior manages is located in the Arctic, a vast area that amounts to 62% of the U.S. Arctic. DOI management responsibilities in the Arctic include improving basic science, managing responsible on- and off-shore oil, gas and mineral development, managing natural and cultural resources for the benefit of future generations, and upholding Federal trust responsibilities to Alaska natives.
These responsibilities, however, are growing increasingly complicated due to climate change in the Arctic region, where temperatures are rising about twice as fast as the global average rate. This rapid rate of change is disrupting communities, habitat, and ecosystems in the Arctic, and has global implications as well. Around the world, our daily weather, what we eat, and coastal flooding are all tied to the future of the Arctic. The Arctic is also experiencing rapid demographic and cultural transformations. The United States must prepare for and respond to these dramatic changes, and support the resilience of Arctic communities and the ecosystems upon which they depend.
To that end, the Office of Policy Analysis (PPA) draws upon the extensive knowledge and experience of the Department’s bureaus, and coordinates with other federal agencies and international entities to address pressing Arctic issues. PPA coordinates the Interior Arctic Coordination Group (IACG) to facilitate information-sharing on Arctic issues across several DOI bureaus. Both DC and Alaska-based staff participate in the IACG.
The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum for promoting cooperation among the eight Arctic States and indigenous communities on common Arctic issues, especially issues related to environmental protection and sustainable development. DOI bureaus have contributed a vast amount of expertise to Arctic Council initiatives. PPA helps coordinate DOI engagement and expertise, as needed, for these initiatives.
The United States held the two-year rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council from April 2015 to May 2017. PPA led one of the key priorities of the U.S. Chairmanship - enhancing community and ecosystem resilience. As part of this priority, PPA coordinated a suite of activities with DOI bureaus, and federal and international partners. For example, PPA contributed to a strategy to prevent and manage Arctic invasive species, and PPA continues to participate in follow-on efforts.
PPA also coordinated the development of the Arctic Resilience Action Framework (ARAF), which was adopted by Arctic Council Ministers in the 2017 Fairbanks Declaration. The ARAF provides the Arctic Council with a common set of priorities for building resilience in the region and promotes the sharing of best practices for building resilience across the Arctic. DOI has a great deal of expertise to contribute, through its science activities, land management responsibilities, and federal trust responsibilities. PPA currently leads the ARAF project, on behalf of the United States, with Sweden and Finland.
PPA has been co-chairing the interagency Community Resilience Working Group (CRWG) since early 2015. In collaboration with the Denali Commission and the State of Alaska, the CRWG’s goal is to improve the Federal response to the imminent threat of permafrost degradation, flooding, coastal and riverine erosion and other hazards impacting Alaskan Arctic coastal communities.The CRWG recently produced the first-ever compendium of Federal resilience programs and funding resources for Alaskan communities: the Climate Resilience in Alaskan Communities Catalog of Federal Programs. The Working Group consists of the Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Transportation (DOT), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Energy (DOE), Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Office of Science and Technology (OSTP), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Denali Commission. Within DOI, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Park Service (NPS), and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are active participants.
Arctic Resilience Report: The Arctic Resilience Report (ARR) was formally launched on November 25, 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden. The ARR initiative was co-led by the Office of Policy Analysis, on behalf of the United States, and Sweden. It was produced under the auspices of the Arctic Council, in cooperation with an international team of researchers and indigenous organizations. Through the analysis of several case studies, the ARR identifies strategies for enhancing the resilience of Arctic communities and ecosystems to the rapid changes that are occurring in the region. Full Report | Press Release | Arctic Council Announcement
Managing for the Future in a Rapidly Changing Arctic: On April 4, 2013 the Interagency Working Group on Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska, chaired by the Department of the Interior, released a report titled Managing for the Future in a Rapidly Changing Arctic. Executive Summary | Full Report | Press Release | Video
 The Arctic Region is defined in the 1984 Arctic Research and Policy Act as: “all United States and foreign territory north of the Arctic Circle and all United States territory north and west of the boundary formed by the Porcupine, Yukon, and Kuskokwim Rivers; all contiguous seas, including the Arctic Ocean and the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi Seas; and the Aleutian chain”.