Global study reveals huge majority support the creation of a protected Arctic Sanctuary

Press release - 4 September, 2014
Copenhagen, 4 September 2014 - International polling revealed today that 74 percent of people worldwide support the creation of a protected sanctuary in the international waters surrounding the North Pole.

The study, commissioned by Greenpeace and carried out by Canadian company, RIWI was conducted across 30 countries on six continents. It demonstrates overwhelming public support for a formally protected area in the High Arctic for mammals and other marine life. In addition, 71 percent of those polled say they support the entire Arctic Ocean to be free of oil drilling and other types of heavy industry. Currently only 1.5 percent of the Arctic Ocean is protected — less than any of the world’s oceans.

Greenpeace International Executive Director, Kumi Naidoo, said:

“Today, our leaders have received a strong signal that the public appetite for action on the Arctic is overwhelming and must no longer be ignored. Our leaders now have both the mandate and the opportunity to act for the health of the climate and the Arctic. The world is watching and demanding action.”  

To coincide with the release of this new study, climbers and mountaineers are climbing iconic mountain peaks and buildings all over the world throughout the day, to demand that governments respond to the global outcry to make the creation of a protected Arctic Sanctuary a top priority. This morning, a small team of activists reached the top of New Zealand’s largest active volcano, Mount Ruapehu, while a giant 30x20m banner was deployed from a 150 meter high building in central Bangkok. Another team has taken the “Save the Arctic” message to the Great Wall of China. Dozens more daring ascents will be attempted around the world as daylight moves west.

“There is no doubt that the fate of the Arctic concerns us all: three in four people are demanding a protected Arctic Sanctuary. Unfortunately our governments are massively failing in their responsibility to protect our environment and our climate for our children’s future,” continued Naidoo.
All 30 countries polled show that the vast majority of people either support or strongly support the creation of an Arctic Sanctuary. The strongest support for protection came from Argentina, Italy, India and South Africa, but also Arctic states like the USA and Canada went above the global average with approximately 80 percent in favour.
In the past two months, more than 900 influential people have signed on to a new high level document called the Arctic Declaration, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, actor Emma Thompson, and former and current environment ministers in the Arctic countries. In the coming weeks, delegations lead by Greenpeace will present these demands along with the list of signatories to Arctic States embassies all over the world.


For more information, please contact:

Greenpeace International Press Desk Hot-line: +31 (0) 20 718 24 70  or use

Photos from the global climbs of mountains and rooftops will be uploaded to the Greenpeace Media Library as activities unfold throughout the world. Register for download.

Notes to editors:
Read more about the Arctic Declaration and the pathway to achieve an Arctic Sanctuary