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In 1991, the United States joined the seven other Arctic countries (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden) in establishing the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS), a Finnish initiative to address a variety of environmental protection issues in the Arctic. Four working groups were established under the AEPS to focus on environmental monitoring and assessment, conservation of flora and fauna, emergency preparedness, and marine environmental protection. After several years of working on pan-Arctic environmental issues within the AEPS, the member states, at Canada's initiative, decided to expand the focus of the AEPS to deal with issues of sustainable development in the Arctic. To this end a new entity was formed with the signing of the "Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council" in Ottawa on September 19, 1996.
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