IMG 9337 editPhoto credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceThe Circumpolar Action Plan’s (CAP) comprehensive list of actions and commitments (Annex III) span a timeframe of 10 years. Due to the challenge of allocating resources and responsibilities to plan activities in detail for the full 10-year period, a suite of 2 to 3-year implementation plans, each focusing on a limited set of actions, serve as a strategic tool for ensuring progressive completion of the full list of actions in the CAP.

The shorter duration of these implementation plans enables the Range States to carry out collaborative actions that align with national activities, priorities and strategies. The 2-3 year plans serve as the implementation schedule of the CAP, and allow the Range States to ensure progress, flexibility and efficiency in their circumpolar cooperation.

The implementation plans (developed by the CAP Implementation Team) are presented for agreement biennially at the Meetings of the Parties (MoP) to the Agreement. Progress on the 2015-2017 Implementation Plan was reported in November 2017. Progress on the 2018-2020 Implementation Plan was reported in January 2020. Progress on the 2020-2023 Implementation Plan will be reported prior to the 2023 MoP.

DSC 1139 crop edi smalltPhoto credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceThe 2018-2020 2-Year Implementation Plan was adopted at the 2018 Meeting of the Parties (MoP) to the Agreement in Fairbanks, Alaska, USA. Progress on the 2018-2020 Plan was reported at the 2020 MoP in Norway


Progress on the 2015-2017 2-Year Implementation Plan was reported in November 2017 and is summarized below. The full report can be found here and links to individual reports can be found below and here.

07 CAP ATTACH BOOK 1The Circumpolar Action Plan (CAP) is a 10-year cooperation plan between the Range States that aims to strengthen their efforts in polar bear conservation. The plan was adopted in 2015.

At the biennial meeting of the Polar Bear Agreement in Greenland in 2015, the Range States adopted the CAP with the goal to foster and strengthen international cooperation to conserve polar bears across their range. The CAP builds on each country’s national efforts and aims to lead to more efficient and effective use of conservation resources.  

The vision of the CAP is to secure the long-term persistence of polar bears in the wild that represents the genetic, behavioral, life-history, and ecological diversity of the species. 

Seven key threats are identified in the CAP; of these human-induced climate change and the effects of such changes on habitat and prey is considered the primary threat. The other threats include human-caused mortality; mineral and energy resource exploration and development; contaminants and pollution; shipping; tourism-related activities, and disease.

The vision of the plan is supported by seven objectives (six objectives were defined in the 2015-2025 CAP adopted in 2015 and one additional objective was defined in the 2020-2023 Implementation Plan). The objectives are to:

  1. minimize threats to polar bears and their habitat
  2. communicate to the public, policy makers, and legislators around the world the importance of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions to polar bear conservation
  3. ensure the preservation and protection of essential habitat for polar bears
  4. ensure responsible harvest management systems today that will sustain polar bear subpopulations for future generations
  5. manage human-bear interactions to ensure human safety and to minimize polar bear injury or mortality
  6. ensure that international legal trade of polar bears is carried out according to conservation principles and that poaching and illegal trade are curtailed.
  7. carry out coordinated circumpolar population research and monitoring to monitor progress toward achieving the vision of the CAP

The CAP contains strategies and actions geared towards meeting these objectives by 2025. At each Range State biennial meeting, a periodic implementation plan is adopted, where a set of actions from the CAP that are to be implemented in the following 2-3 year interim are identified.

Half way through the implementation of the 10-year CAP, in 2020, the Polar Bear Range States undertook a mid-term review to evaluate the degree to which the actions have been implemented, the effectiveness of actions to achieving the stated objectives, and the impact of those actions toward achieving the vision. The mid-term-review identified a set of circumpolar actions linked to the seven objectives, and the Circumpolar Action Plan Implementation Team (CAP-IT) developed a detailed Plan for the period of 2020-2023

The full text of the CAP adopted in 2015 and the Mid-term-review report from 2020, as well as appendices and annexes, can be downloaded in the sidebars of this page.

Access all Circumpolar Action Plan documents

Photo credit: U.S.Fish and Wildlife ServicePhoto credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Circumpolar Action Plan Fact Sheet

Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServicePhoto credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service