The Norwegian authorities have an objective for Svalbard to be one of the world’s best managed wilderness areas. The Norwegian Polar Institute contributes to the achievement of this objective by mean of specialist reports, advice and consultation statements. The institute also participates in various processes that underpin the management of the High North and Antarctica. The Norwegian Polar Institute is Norway’s executive environmental authority in Antarctica. This means that anyone planning an activity in Antarctica must notify the institute in advance.

Administrative authority

The Norwegian Polar Institute is a directorate of the Ministry of Climate and Environment and has been assigned administrative authority pursuant to the Regulations relating to the protection of the environment and safety in Antarctica of 26 April 2013, no. 412. These regulations fulfil Norway’s obligations under the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. These define strict requirements for environmental safety and the protection of life and health in respect of activities in Antarctica. The Norwegian Polar Institute has the authority to order changes to, suspend or prohibit activities that are contrary to the regulations. The institute is also tasked with monitoring compliance with the regulations.

Separate regulations apply to Bouvet Island in the South Atlantic Ocean. Here, the Norwegian Polar Institute has authority delegated by the Ministry of Climate and Environment to grant permission for the use of off-road vehicles and aircraft landings, and to allow dispensation from other provisions for the purposes of research or other special activities. 

As an active contributor to processes and discussions at national and international levels, the Norwegian Polar Institute is involved in enhancing and defining new instruments in the North and South on the basis of knowledge and general policy development. The institute does not have any administrative authority in the North.