Created in 1996 by the Foreign Ministers of the Arctic, the Arctic Council was given the mandate to "undertake a broad program to include all dimensions of social development." This intergovernmental forum for cooperation is made up of eight Arctic states - Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the USA - as well as six international indigenous organizations, which have the status of Permanent Participants.
Norway has recently taken over the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from Russia for the next two years. The priorities of the Arctic Council for 2006-2008 include the presentation of a comprehensive and up-to-date picture of the present climate effects and future challenges the Arctic countries are faced with, and developing sustainable use and ecosystem-based management of natural resources in the North.
For more information, read this article written by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs for Russia and Norway.