The leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.” There are eight member countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. They carry out work in six Working Groups: Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP), Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF), Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group (EPPR), Protection of Arctic Marine Environment Working Group (PAME), Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG). There are an additional six organizations representing the Arctic indigenous peoples. Several states are also involved as Arctic Council Observers, allowing them to influence policy-making through participation in working groups, financial contributions, project proposals and verbal and written statements. Over last few years, an increasing number of states have been applying for observer status in the Arctic Council due to an increasing demand for faster shipping routes, oil, gas, fish and other resources. East Asian states (China and Japan for example) are particularly interested in increased fishing territory and faster shipping routes, and are growing influence in the region through their observer status with these commercial interests in mind.