Introductory speech: Environmental pluralism in the Arctic: stakeholder’s view

Yulia Zaika, Lomonosov Moscow Sate University, Russia, ISIRA Group of IASC

Arctic is the environment, the natural habitat to different species; the stage for different stakeholders presenting numerous views and agendas. Arctic is plural. Sustainable development in the Arctic is the combination of active environmentalism, adequate governance, optimal economy and efficient living based on merging scientific and traditional knowledge. Such a combination of economic, political, social and environmental aspects presents the essential balanced convergence within Arctic plurality but is beyond the grasp. How to organize this plurality in a more environmentally inclusive manner? How to accept and acknowledge, rather than mutually deny, diversity of stakeholder’s views and interests? Should we admit our inability to find an underlying principle to balance environmental interests and unifying system approach to solve environmental problems in the Arctic? This short introductory overview will deliver and present the results of in-depth interviews among different groups of Arctic experts and stakeholders to identify fitting assemblies in Arctic environmental pluralism.

 

Main Keynote: From Cold War to Arctic Meltdown

Lars-Otto Reiersen, Senior Advisor at the University of Tromsø, the Arctic University of Norway

25 years ago the Cold War was coming to an end, the political ice broke up and the Arctic countries agreed to work together to clarify the threats to the Arctic from several types of pollutants. During the 1980s, some observations from the North indicated that there could be problematic levels of persistent organics, heavy metals, radionuclides and acidification in some Arctic areas. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) was established in 1991 with a mandate to assess levels, trends and effects of contaminants threatening the Arctic environment. AMAP was instituted as the scientific assessment Working Group under the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS), in 1996 transferred to the Arctic Council.

Since its establishment, AMAP has produced high quality assessment reports about the pollution of the Arctic and its effects on the Arctic ecosystems and human populations – especially the Arctic Indigenous peoples. Based on these assessment reports, AMAP produced policy relevant recommendations calling for actions that could reduce the pollution of the Arctic. The AMAP reports and the recommendations, have over the years contributed to the cleanup of radioactive waste, contaminated sites and decommissioning of nuclear submarines, establishment of the Stockholm convention to reduce production, use and discharge of persistent organic pollutants and the Minamata conventions to reduce emissions and discharges of mercury. In addition, countries have taken account of AMAP information in developing local actions and food advice to reduce the exposure to humans - especially pregnant women.

AMAP’s focus on climate change in the Arctic has increased over the 25 years of operation and several assessments has been produced focusing on the changes in the Arctic cryosphere, effects due to Short Lived Climate Forcers, Arctic Ocean Acidification and combined effects of pollution and climate change. The climate reports have been important inputs to the IPCC assessment reports. The presentation will provide an overview of the work done, achievements and what might be future threats for the Arctic.

 

The plenary session is chaired by Arja Rautio, UArctic Vice-President Research, University of Oulu