About Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund


Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund was established in 2007 as an economic instrument to protect the environment on Svalbard.



The fund was created by the Ministry of Climate and Environment in accordance with The Svalbard Act.



Where do the funds come from?

From April 1st 2007, everyone visiting Svalbard have to pay an environmental tax of NOK 150. The tax is automatically added to the ticket prices by airlines and cruise companies. The revenues generated by this tax goes to Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund. Svalbard’s residents also pay this tax but may get a refund.


How are the funds used?

The funds are intended to initiate and stimulate projects and measures that aim to protect the Svalbard’s natural environment. Private and public enterprises, organizations and individuals may apply for funding.


The Governor of Svalbard is the secretariat of the fund. Grants are allocated by a board elected by the Ministry of Climate and Environment.


Funds are granted to support

Photo: Anne-Line Pedersen

Photo: Aktiv i Friluft, Svalbard Turn

The objectives of Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund


The fund shall be used to benefit the environment at Svalbard by contributing to measures to protect the natural environment and cultural heritage sites on the islands. The grants shall help ensure that Svalbard’s unique wilderness is conserved as a basis for experiences, knowledge and value creation. The fund will work to initiate and stimulate projects and initiatives that aim to meet the high environmental goals set for Svalbard.


Photo: Frede Lamo

The story


In 2001, the Norwegian Parliament passed a law about environmental protection on Svalbard. Section 98 of the Act stipulates the establishment of an environmental protection fund. The funds are only to be used for measures on Svalbard that aim to protect the local natural environment. Grants are given to support research and studies to identify and monitor the environment and causes of environmental impact; to measures to restore the natural environment; to projects that examine and maintain cultural heritage sites, and to measures that aim to inform, educate or facilitate.

The Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund was established in 2007 when the department had established regulations for the fund and implemented an environmental fee for visitors traveling to Svalbard.


The fund’s income is primarily from the environmental tax of NOK 150, which is payed by everyone traveling to Svalbard. The fee is automatically added to the ticket prices so that most people are unaware of its existence. Residents may claim the fee refunded. In addition, the fund receives some minor revenue from fishing and hunting fees, as well as various environmental compensation.


After a modest start, the fund has grown and offers now annual funding of around NOK 20 million. It is decided that the fund should not keep a saved funds beyond a small buffer for unforeseen expenses. However, grants from the Fund are only paid after measures have been implemented and reported and accounts are delivered. The fund therefore needs to keep a reserve to cover promised commitments.


Traffic to Svalbard has increased rapidly since the fund’s creation in 2007. It might seem ironic that the increasing tourism, which in itself is a huge challenge to the natural environment, is the reason for the fund’s growth. Simultaneously, this growth offers a unique opportunity to support projects and measurements that take care of the natural and cultural environment of Svalbard. It is not the fund’s task to facilitate tourism, but to help mitigate the environmental effects of tourism and other traffic.


Everyone except the Governor of Svalbard may apply for funding from the Fund. Roughly one third goes to research, one third to the preservation of cultural heritage and one third to various environmental protection measures. A significant proportion of the funds have been given to measures in and around Longyearbyen.


The fund is led by a board of 5 members and a deputy member, which is appointed by the ministry for a four-year period with a possibility for a four-year extension. The first chairman of the board was the former governor of Svalbard, Ann-Kristin Olsen. She was replaced by Morten Ruud in 2015, also a former governor of Svalbard. The other board members are elected on the basis of their Svalbard knowledge and expertise in either environmental protection or cultural heritage management.


The fund’s day-to-day activities are managed by a secretary. Administrative functions, such as accounting and archives, are purchased by the Governor of Svalbard.