Between July and August 2018 this eight-part webinar series brought together Arctic experts, professionals, and students. The webinar series covered four thematic modules: (1) Environmental Sciences, (2) Energy and Resources, (3) International Governance, and (4) Social Sciences. The webinar series is available online.
The changing Arctic environment
Arctic Environments in Change (Bernhard Diekmann) & Disaster-related Science Diplomacy: Transcending Academic and National Boundaries to Reduce Disaster Risk in the Arctic (Dr. Yekaterina Kontar )
In our first webinar, Professor Bernhard Diekmann (AWI) provides us with an overview of the actual challenges that climate change brings to Arctic environments, including sea level rise and glacial retreats, sea-ice loss, as well as changes in the atmosphere, permafrost, and vegetation.
Dr. Yekaterina Kontar introduces us to the concept of disaster-related science diplomacy and stresses the importance of interdisciplinary cooperation across borders. On the example of a case study, she highlights the steps towards - as well as the challenges of - exchange with a Russian and a US-American community on flood risk management.
Bonus interview with Dr. Danita Catherine Burke on Climate Change and the politics of protecting the Arctic region
Fingerprints of the Anthropocene: marine litter in the Arctic (John Crump)
The effects of human activities on the Earth are beyond doubt, so much so that many scholars are arguing that we have entered the Anthropocene – a period where humans are changing planetary systems in an unpredictable way. The Arctic is particularly sensitive to rapid change, something that was pointed out in the 2005 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) and in an overwhelming amount of research since that time.
Most change in the Arctic is being driven by human activities in the southern part of the planet. Two major fingerprints of the Anthropocene on Arctic ecosystems are Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) and plastic. Since human beings are an integral part of these ecosystems the effects of these and other forms of pollution are a long-term threat.
Participant presentations are held by Marianna Nitusova on Sea Ice; by Alexis Garretson on Vegetation; and by Autumn-Lynn Harrison on Migratory Birds
Arctic Energy and Natural Resources
Arctic energy and the laws that govern it: a circumpolar overview (Roman Sidortsov) & Energy in the Yukon (Jocelyn Joe-Strack)
The presentation by Roman Sidortsov provides a brief overview of legal and regulatory frameworks and approaches taken by the five Arctic littoral states to govern oil and gas exploration and extraction in the Arctic and Subarctic. Key projects and developments are highlighted in the context of licensing (leasing), permitting, and environmental assessment.
Following up with a more regional focus, Jocelyn Joe-Strack elaborates on energy generation and use in the Yukon Territory.
Diverging from Diesel - The true cost of Diesel Power in the Canadian North (Grant Sullivan)
The presentation will focus on the results of a study commissioned by Gwich'in Council International on the full cost of diesel-generated electricity in northern off-grid communities. The full cost goes beyond the cost of materials and production to include associated environmental and other costs. Understanding the true cost is valuable in helping communities to make informed decisions about their energy futures.
The study determines the full cost by using utility-supplied rate filing documentation provided to governments and energy regulators by utilities; government carbon tax costs; and research related to the direct and indirect social costs associated with the use of diesel for electricity generation and building heating purposes. Information was gathered on 9 northern, off-grid communities in the Northwest Territories (3), Yukon (2), and Nunavut (4).
Participant presentations on Arctic energy and natural resources are held by Dario Iulianella and Ashley Postler.
The Arctic Council in a Time of Rapid Change (Heather Exner-Pirot) & Arctic International Security (Andreas Østhagen)
Despite rapid climate changes, geopolitical tensions, and an influx of global actors and interests, the Arctic region has remained remarkably stable and cooperative since the end of the Cold War. At the center of this achievement is the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum composed of the eight Arctic states and six Indigenous organizations, which was established in 1996 to promote collaboration on sustainable development and environmental protection in the region.
Heather Exner-Pirot's presentation provides an overview of the Arctic Council and its role in regional Arctic governance, as well as assess its future directions as the Council develops a Strategic Plan for the first time.
Andreas Østhagen's lecture discusses various approaches to traditional military or state-centric 'Arctic security'. Is the Arctic a 'security region? Or a security community? What are the linkages between the various Arctic states and their security concerns? To what extent do the oft-cited predictions of an Arctic "scramble" or "game" hold true? Emphasis is placed on the Arctic coastal states and the distinct separation between European and North American security interests.
What kind of knowledge for climate change adaptation? (Monica Tennberg)
Relevant, accessible and comprehensive knowledge is a basic requirement for successful and effective adaptation to climate change and its various consequences for Arctic societies and peoples. Development of governance to support adaptation requires the use of different kinds of knowledge, the participation of various knowledge producers and innovative ways of communication and interaction between decision-makers, local populations, and stakeholders. The presentation will present and discuss the results of the project Adaptation actions for a changing Arctic – Perspectives from the Barents area.
Participant presentations on Arctic governance are held by Tuuli Tanninen, Vanamali Tay and Diane Yoder
Arctic Social Sciences and Humanities
The Saami Council (Jannie Staffansson) & Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Alexey Tsykarev)
In her presentation, Jannie Staffansson provides us with an overview on stressors on Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic and the work of the Saami Council.
Alexey Tsykarev's presentation showcases the work of UN indigenous specific mechanisms, in particular, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as global tools to achieve sustainable development and dignity for indigenous communities worldwide. It also elaborates on the global trends and lessons learned as we move towards full implementation of the UN Declaration. Specific UN studies and experts’ advice are mentioned along with some useful information on how they can be utilized in advocacy and practical work. More specifically, the presentation focuses on some specific issues of a critical importance for indigenous peoples, including climate change, assimilation of languages, access to proper healthcare and principle of free, prior and informed consent.
Group presentation on social sciences and humanities & The Social Side: Loss and Damage in the Arctic (Victoria Herrman)
The participant presentation "An Overview of Traditional and Indigenous Knowledge in Arctic Governance" is held by Jade Zoghbi and Sarah Abdelrahim.
In her presentation, Victoria Herrmann provides us with an overview of the use of the term "loss and damage" on the international level and the need to reshape the narrative around climate impacts.