The Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) process was initiated by the Arctic Council (AC) and has been underway since early 2007. The initial background work for SAON was done by the SAON Steering Group (SAON-SG), and with the first meeting of the Board in January 2012, SAON was formally established. Its purpose is to support and strengthen the development of multinational engagement for sustained and coordinated pan-Arctic observing and data sharing systems that serve societal needs, particularly related to environmental, social, economic and cultural issues. SAON promotes the vision of well-defined observing networks that enable users to have access to free, open and high quality data that will realize pan-Arctic and global value-added services and provide societal benefits. Its goal is to enhance Arctic-wide observing activities by facilitating partnerships and synergies among existing observing and data networks (“building blocks”), and promoting sharing and synthesis of data and information. SAON also is committed to facilitating the inclusion of Arctic indigenous people in observing activities, in particular by promoting community-based monitoring (CBM) efforts.