In 1996, the Ottawa Declaration formally established the Arctic Council as a high-level intergovernmental forum to provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues; in particular, issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.
Arctic Council Member States are Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America.
In addition to the Member States, the Arctic Council has the category of indigenous Permanent Participants.
In September 1989, on the initiative of the government of Finland, officials from the eight Arctic countries met in Rovaniemi, Finland to discuss cooperative measures to protect the Arctic environment. They agreed to work towards a meeting of circumpolar Ministers responsible for Arctic environmental issues. The September 1989 meeting was followed by preparatory meetings in Yellowknife, Canada in April 1990; Kiruna, Sweden in January 1991; and, Rovaniemi, Finland in June 1991.