Facts & Figures

AC Observer: 1996
Active Polar
Icebreakers: 0

Poland’s scientific presence in the Arctic region began during the Second International Polar Year in 1932 with a 12-month expedition to Bear Island (1932/1933). Since then, Poland has established a network of university research summer bases in Svalbard and the permanent Stanisław Siedlecki Polish Polar Station in Hornsund in the Svalbard Archipelago (hornsund.igf.edu.pl/en/). Furthermore, the Polish research community is involved in international Arctic science cooperation via various networks (such as IASC, SAON, EU-Polarnet) and research projects in many Arctic sciences and disciplines.

The Committee on Polar Research and Polish Academy of Sciences oversee Polish scientific activities in the region (www.kbp.pan.pl/). In addition, in 2015, 18 major scientific institutions established the Polish Polar Consortium (www.pkpolar.pl/eng/home/); the Consortium aims to enhance collaboration in conducting and managing polar research in order to gain a better understanding of the current environmental changes in the Arctic and Antarctic, and their influence on other parts of the Earth. In April 2013, Kraków hosted an Arctic Science Summit Week.

In the economic sphere, Polish companies or their subsidiaries are involved in raw materials exploration and extraction activities in Canada and Greenland, hydrocarbon exploration on the Norwegian shelf, construction, shipbuilding and ship maintenance for vessels operating in Arctic conditions, and –to a limited extent – fisheries exploitation in the North Atlantic and Barents Sea. In addition, Poles form one of the largest groups of migrants in Iceland and Norway.

In 2015, Go Arctic, run by the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency, was launched to boost Polish entrepreneurial investment in the Arctic regions of Denmark, Finland, Canada, Sweden, and Iceland.

Polish engagement in the Arctic is founded primarily on multidisciplinary research and long-term involvement in the work of the Arctic Council, in which it was one of the first nations to gain observer status. Poland has also been involved in political cooperation in the Arctic region first as an observer in the AEPS and then in the Arctic Council. Poland is also an observer in the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, and is a party to the 1920 Spitsbergen (Svalbard) Treaty and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Poland has worked to develop a pragmatic dialogue of the Arctic Council chairs with state observers  – the so-called Warsaw Format Meetings – which took place in 2010, 2013 and 2015. The third meeting was held in Warsaw in March 2015 with the participation of the Canadian SAO. The Warsaw Format is one of the  few forums in which state observers have a chance to discuss problematic issues with each other and with the current leadership of the Arctic Council.

Domestically, Poland has not presented an official Arctic policy document. However, how this policy should look may be determined on the basis of the previous achievements, current potential, and identification of key priorities for future activities. Preliminary proposals have been discussed in a policy paper issued in May 2015.