- climate - energy - environment
France, which holds the European Union presidency, called Wednesday for a joint European approach to resolving the challenges in the Arctic, a region on the front lines of global warming.
"What we clearly need is a shared vision of the issues at stake, of the policies to face them in a region which is particulary sensitive to the impact of man's influence on his environment," Laurent Stefanini, French ambassador for the environment said.
He was speaking at an Arctic conference in Ilulissat, Greenland organised by the Nordic Council of Ministers.
"We are all aware that what is happening in the region is a matter which concerns humanity as a whole," Stefanini said, adding that "climate change is one of the top priorities of the French EU presidency."
The Arctic climate is warming at twice the rate as the rest of the planet.
The meltic polar ice cap poses a threat to the local ecosystem, notably for polar bears, but also opens up the region to new shipping routes and vast amounts of oil, gas and mineral reserves.
The US Geological Survey says the Arctic region could hold 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil reserves and 30 percent of its undiscovered natural gas.
Joe Borg, the EU commissioner for fisheries and maritime affairs, said at the conference that the European Union had "an important contribution" to make to the Arctic region.
"We must aim at safeguarding the Arctic," he said. "Scientific research and monitoring have a pivotal role to play in this respect."
He noted: "As yet there is no international fischeries conservation and management regime in place that covers all of the Arctic high seas."
"The EU is willing to ensure that any future fishing activities are properly regulated, so as to provide for the fair and sustainable exploitation of such a precious resource."