Ban Ki-moon receives names of six million people calling for protection of the Arctic

Press release - 19 September, 2014
New York, 19 September 2014 - In advance of the UN Climate Summit in New York, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accepted a six million signature petition from Greenpeace calling for long term protection of the region [1].

Ban Ki-moon received the signatures yesterday evening, exactly one year after a Greenpeace direct action in the Russian Arctic which led to the imprisonment of 30 activists ahead of a major global outcry.

"I receive this as a common commitment toward our common future, protecting our environment, not only in the Arctic, but all over the world," said the UN Secretary General.

Ban Ki-moon said he would consider convening an international summit to discuss the issue of Arctic protection following the meeting with Greenpeace representatives. He also expressed a desire to travel aboard one of the organisation’s famous campaigning ships in the Arctic in the near future.

Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, who was part of the delegation, said:

"The Arctic represents a defining test for those attending the summit in New York next week. They will surely deliver elegant speeches which express grave concern for the rapid warming of our world. And yet many of these same leaders are considering how best to carve up the melting Arctic for fossil fuel extraction. It is simply not credible to hold both positions at the same time."

"Over six million of us were represented today and it’s hugely encouraging that our voices are starting to be heard at the very highest levels. We thank Ban Ki-moon for receiving our petition and pledge to continue our campaign to protect the Arctic on behalf of all humanity."

He added: "The Secretary General is of course welcome to join us aboard one of our campaign ships in the Arctic at any time."

Other members of the small delegation were Indigenous rights activist, youth leader and Saami politician Josefina Skerk, who last year trekked to the North Pole to declare the top of our world 'the common heritage of everyone on earth' and Margareta Malmgren-Köller, who has signed dozens of leaders up to Greenpeace's Arctic Declaration [2] policy proposal.

Member of the Saami Parliament, Josefina Skerk, said:

"We, who want to continue living in the North, are gravely concerned about climate change and the destructive industries that are closing in. My people know and understand the Arctic, and it is changing in a manner, which threatens not just our survival, but the survival of people all over the world. Humans created this crisis, and it is only through human endeavor that it can be halted. I urge the Arctic countries in particular to take a giant step up and I think the world needs to pay much closer attention to ensure that it happens. They might as well start here in New York in a few days."

Earlier this month, a global study revealed that 74% of people in 30 countries support the creation of a protected Arctic Sanctuary in the international waters surrounding the North Pole. The study was commissioned by Greenpeace and carried out by Canadian company, RIWI [3].


Pictures and clip reel video of the meeting with Ban Ki-moon is available here:

For more information, please contact:

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


[1] Greenpeace is calling for the creation of a protected sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole, as well as a ban on oil drilling and destructive industry in the rest of the Arctic. Visit for more information.  

[2] In the past three months, more than 1000 influential figures, including former ministers, Nobel peace prize winners and major cultural figures, have signed on to a new high level document called the Arctic Declaration, a ten point charter for Arctic protection to tackle climate change and to establish an Arctic Sanctuary on top of the world:

[3] A report from polling company RIWI on the international results is available: