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Date: Tuesday, 17 Apr 2012 09:42

IPY2012-posterThe International Polar Year - IPY 2007-2008 will be wrapped up for the final time next week 22-27 April in Montréal in the "From Knowledge to Action - IPY 2012 Conference". The conference will bring together nearly 2300 participants in 4 plenary panels, 156 parallel sessions and 12 high-level action forums on Polar research  engaging Arctic and Antarctic researchers, policy- and decision-makers, and a broad range of interested parties from academia, industry, non-government, education and circumpolar communities including indigenous peoples.

International Polar Year (IPY) is an international cooperative research initiative with an objective to provide scientific information about the fundamentals of meteorology and geophysics as well as further people's knowledge on the Polar Regions. 

The First International Polar Year was held between 1881-1883. Eleven nations took part in establishing fourteen principal research stations across the Polar Regions. Twelve research stations were located in the Arctic, along with at least 13 auxiliary stations, and two in the Antarctic. A vast amount of information was gathered between 1881 and 1884, but in the lack of a centralized coordination of analysis and publication of the results, no fundamental discoveries were made as a result of the first IPY. Each state published their observations independently and the International Polar Commission dissolved in the aftermath of the project.

The Second International Polar Year was both proposed and promoted by the International Meteorological Committee. The main objective of the second research initiative was to investigate the global implications of the newly discovered "Jet Stream" and to conduct magnetic, auroral and meteorological observations at a network of research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic. Some 40 countries participated in the establishment of 40 permanent observation stations in both Arctic and Antarctic. Following, the data collected during the two-year period became the foundation of the International Meteorological Organization and promoted further research, such as the International Geophysical Year (IGY), 1957-1958, often called the third International Polar Year, which celebrated the 75th and 25th anniversaries of the First and Second IPYs.

ipylogosmallerThe latest International Polar Year 2007-2008, the one celebrated at the Montréal Conference, was organized through the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It was gigantic international multidisciplinary collaborative with around 10 000 scientists and 50 000 other participants from over 60 countries. Main objectives of this megaproject were to significantly increase the scientific knowledge and understanding of the polar areas, especially the wide-ranging and significant impacts of climate warming in the Arctic and Antarctic, and to conduct research projects beyond the resources of individual countries.

In addition, the Polar Year 2007-2008 aimed at educating a new generation of polar scientists and engineers and raise awareness of the public and policymakers of the importance of the polar areas for the entire planet. The disciplinary breadth of the third IPY far exceeded the previous Polar Years of 1882, 1932 and the 1957 IGY providing more comprehensive picture of the polar areas.

The "IPY 2012 - From Knowldege to Action" Conference  will contribute to the translation of new polar scientific findings into an evidence-based agenda for action that will influence global decisions, policies and outcomes over the coming years. To search the Conference program, please follow this link. To register to the event, please follow this link.


IPY-Joint-Committee-Summary-2011To learn more about the IPY 2007-2008, please page through the ICSU/WMO IPY Joint Committee summary "Understanding Earth's Polar Challenges: International Polar Year 2007-2008". The comprehensive, 720p. summary of IPY activities covers the development of IPY 2007–2008 for almost a decade, from 2001 till summer 2010 and demonstrates the extensive and essential contribution made by participating nations and organizations, and provides a prospective blueprint for future polar research.
Author: "leena@arcticportal.org (Leena-Kaisa Viitanen)" Tags: "Feature of the week"
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Date: Thursday, 29 Mar 2012 14:53
(Photo: Getty 
Images)Various characteristics of Icelandic economy seem to confirm the fact, that an affluent society, where the GDP per capita in 2007 was $66,240.30, is heavily dependent on the fisheries. According to recent analysis, export of fish products in foreign trade, account for around 75% of all marine goods export in Iceland and 50% of the foreign exchange income from marine goods in general.

Following these statistics, it was found out that the total, direct and indirect fisheries' contribution is estimated to be within the borders of 40% - 45% of GDP and might differ around 5% by looking at different sources. Using other words, without the fishery based economy, Icelandic GDP would be estimated as 60% of the current one. However, not only the state's economy is strongly based on fisheries.

The analysis must take into account, that the fisheries determine the major of citizens personal, individual income and income distribution, and what is more, in some part of Iceland as for instance West Fiords, around Husavik or Ólafsfjordur and many others, they are virtually the only basis for any economic activity. More than 40 different kinds of species in Iceland are harvested for the commercial purpose and the total annual catch in recent years, up to 2008, has fluctuated around 1.5 up to 2.2 million metric tons.

It would be worth to mention, that according to the statistics from 2008, the most significant species for Icelandic fisheries are cod, which accounts for about 30% of total catch, beside that one, very valuable are also haddock, redfish and pollock which percentage in total catch can be generally estimated for around 15 % of a total catch.

According to the latest news, there has been certain tendency regarding development of property rights in fisheries. Some of the European countries as Denmark, including Faroe Islands, United Kingdom or Ireland, performed the National Quota Management, some of them as Netherlands, New Zealand and Iceland, implemented the ITQs system. It has to be mentioned, that Iceland, where the private property has been generally believed to be fundamental to motivate the economy efficiency and productivity on land, took a leading role in this development and as one of the first countries to introduce individual vessel quotas and individual transferable quotas in major offshore fisheries.

(Photo: Getty 
Images)Historical data show that in Iceland, vessel catch quotas were implemented in 1975 in the herring fishery, in 1979 these were made transferable, and in the 1980s started to be used in all fisheries within exclusive economic zone and Icelandic vessels operating outside of this area, creating the current ITQ system.

Addressing this discussion, it seems to be necessarily to analyze the conventional property rights in Iceland from the legal point of view. Icelandic property rights are neither fixed nor absolute and recognized as sort of privilege which allows to exclude others form some benefits. This concept places the one who holds the rights in certain position in respect to the others who are obligated to follow those rules.

On the other hand, the legal theory states that property right is an aggregate and collection of rights. In this bundle we have to include the authority to control something and to dispose it to the others. The concept behind the implementation of ITQs system lays in the theory that it is a right to fish which is a subject of the concept, not the ownership of marine natural resources itself. It shows to be obvious that no one can posses the rights to the fish unless it has been caught. The natural marine resources are the common property of Icelandic nation.

Current ITQs system has been based on the general provisions of the property rights. It was implemented by the Icelandic Fisheries Management Act of 1990 and changed through next two decades. The last alteration of this document took place in 2006 and provides with the essential features of current ITQ system. Though there might be notice disjunction between the art.1 and art. 4 of the FMA where the first states: "The exploitable marine stocks of the Icelandic fishing banks are the common property of the Icelandic nation.´ while the other seems to negate this statement: "No one may pursue commercial fishing in Icelandic waters without having a general fishing permit."

This allows to come to the conclusion, that the Icelandic fisheries management system is the closed shop system. Regarding ITQs, this feature puts an emphasis on their exclusive nature. It seems to occur as self evident, that one licensee cannot exclude all others from fishing. Analyzing the document, it can be said that the parties which enjoy a fishing license, in the same time enjoy the exclusive right to run commercial or professional fisheries in Icelandic waters. According to the FMA, current quota system represents shares in total allowable catch. TAC is set annually by the Minister of Fisheries and based on the recommendation from the Marine Research Institute which on the other hand relies on the information from the fishermen and researchers. All commercial fishing activities are subject to these quotas. Currently there are 15 species which are subject to TAC and in the same time to ITQs system. The quota share is multiplied by the TAC to give the quantity which each vessel is concerned during the fishing year in question. This is referred to as the vessels´ catch quota. Permanent quota shares and annual catch quotas are divisible and transferable to other fishing vessels. The allocation of quotas is subject to a fishing fee. Individual enterprises may not control more than the equivalent of 12% of the value of the total quotas allocated for all species, and 12% to 35% for individual species.

The dispute arises when the one starts to think about the transferability of both, TAC and ITQ. The rule says that both of them can be transferred without any restrictions, though the Ministry of Fisheries must agree to distribute them fairly among the geographical regions. After it is done, according to the FMA we can point out the option, where the holder of an ITQ can, wholly of partly transfer its share to another licensed vessel. New regulations implemented in 1990 made it very common to sell the share by private holders, because the extreme amount of money was offered by the big enterprises.

(Photo: Getty 
Images)Icelandic ITQs system has or could have, great impact on economic efficiency and what fallows, the maximization of wealth not only among the quota holders but also other citizens who, indirectly benefit from fisheries industry. By implementing ITQs system in Iceland, the interest in the fisheries, coming from big national corporations, was noticed. Those companies, larger entitles different from the Icelandic government, began to actually achieve economy of scale, what means that they were able to give out the product on the lower cost, what means the lower price, because of the progressing massive production and fish processing.

While the ITQs system is being implemented, decision making process starts to depend on the market and current economic situation, rather than being done by non market focused entitles in bureaucratic way, what means faster and more efficient for economy ways. Iceland seems to be very good example for such an observations but similarity might be noticed also in New Zealand, where actually the government's fishery policy became more efficient when the private sector started to provide with services as opposed to the public ones.

Icelandic ITQ system, shares some of the features with its utopist idea of its impact on economic efficiency. However, there are particular aspects of this dimension, which differ from the theoretical ideal and subtract from its economic efficiency. In the Icelandic ITQ system, which is strongly associated with fishing vessels, only those who actually own vessels with a valid fishing license, can own quotas. What is more, the total holdings of quotas cannot exceed the fishing capacity of the vessel in question. This regulation severely restricts the set of potential holders of ITQs and clearly subtracts from the ability of the quota market to generate the most economically beneficial allocation of those.

The Fisheries Management Act of 1990 implemented a clause setting a limit on the quota holdings of any single vessel, what stated that no vessel can have a larger TAC share than it could catch within the fishing year. Art.13 of FMA states the maximum fishing quota share for fishing vessels owned by individual parties, whether natural or legal persons, or owned by connected parties. Nevertheless, it came to the point that eleven largest firms in Iceland hold about 33% of the demersal quotas and about 32% of all ITQs. Fifty biggest harvesting companies, in 1997 (the last available data) held more than 60% in all ITQs in the beginning of that fishing year.

Icelandic ITQs system increases the economic efficiency by lowering the cost of harvesting, cost of production and price of the out coming product. It allows cheaper labor power and decrease the time spent on the sea by the single fisherman. After actual implementation of ITQs, the human's migration from small villages in the far north or north – east, down to bigger agglomerations, where the large companies are operating, was noticed. Versions of the ITQs fisheries management have been occurring in Icelandic fisheries since early 1980s and its performance should be considered objectively.The evidence on the economic benefits of the ITQ system is becoming clearer and the TAC for some species will be increased in the near future. The regional impact of the ITQs system shall be taken into account.


Source: Center of the Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture
Author: "magda@arcticportal.org (Magda)" Tags: "Feature of the week"
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Date: Friday, 16 Mar 2012 08:07

Aquaculture farm in the Arctic (Photo: GettyImages)Aquaculture is an important part of the food sector in the world. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the harvesting of wild fish.

Aquaculture is predominantly for human consumption. Aquaculture accounted for 45,7% of fish consumption in the world in 2008. It has grown rapidly over the last 50-60 years, the annual production in 1950 was around 1 million tons compared to 52.500 thousand tons in 2008.

Some nations have a long history of aquaculture but Asia dominates the world production, around 88,8% of the world aquaculture production comes from Asia. China alone is responsible for 62,3% of that.

China produced around 32.736 thousand tons in 2008. India is next (3479 t), Vietnam (2462 t) and then Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh all between 1000 and 2000 thousand tons.

Norway is next with 844.000 tons, the largest of the Arctic states, and USA has 500.000 million. Russia was under 100.000 tons, Canada 15.360 tons and Iceland only around 5000 tons.

The Arctic states produce enormous amounts of fish product s with aquaculture. The industry is a complicated process, if properly regulated; aquaculture can provide good opportunities for local development without large impacts on the ecosystem. Poorly managed and poorly regulated aquaculture, however, can have severe negative impacts through the release of excessive nutrients and chemicals, as well as escapes of farmed fish and the risk of disease transfer.

More stable and predictable production volumes, as well as large markets in the EU and the US, are among the advantages of aquaculture, the farming of marine organisms, seen from a business perspective. Salmon and trout are common industries both in Norway and USA to a large scale. Other countries participate as well.

The expansion of the aquaculture industry gives rise to two overriding concerns: the intrusion of fish farms into vulnerable marine and coastal areas, and the overall sustainability of an industry that depends on large catches of wild fish to feed farmed fish.

The yearly production of aquaculture in the Arctic countries. Click to enlarge. Source: FAO (Graph by Arctic Portal)Below is an overview of agriculture in the eight Arctic states.

Norway (844.000 tones): Intensive farming of Atlantic salmon is by far the most important activity, accounting for more than 80 percent of the total Norwegian aquaculture production. Rainbow trout is also important and several marine finfish (cod, halibut) and shellfish species (blue mussel, oysters) are in the process of becoming commercialised. Ninety-five percent of Norwegian production is exported with the EU being the main market.

USA (500.000 tones): The aquaculture industry in the United States of America has become well established over the last 35 years but faces significant challenges to maintain continued growth. The mainstay of the industry is the production of channel catfish which occurs largely in earthen ponds in the southeastern States of Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama. Catfish represent 81 percent of the 287.132 tonnes of finfish produced in 2008. There is a steady incline of total production from 1950 when it was around 50.000 tons. The peak was in 2003 when it went over 600.000 tons. But generally since then the number is around 500.000 tons. By law, aquaculture is federally defined as agriculture in the USA.

Canada (140.000 tones): The aquaculture industry in Canada is a dynamic sector which has experienced significant growth since 2000 primarily as a result of increases in production of Atlantic salmon in marine net pens. The salmon farms are located in sheltered waters of the Pacific Ocean off of British Columbia, and in the Atlantic Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Atlantic salmon sales generated 88 percent of the aquaculture industry's total value in 2010 and 70 percent of tonnage.

Russia (100.000 tones): There are four types of aquaculture activity in the Russian Federation: pasturable, ponds, industrial and recreational. There are 295 freshwater fish species in the water bodies of the Russian Federation. 63 fish species, crustacean species and molluscs are reared artificially. 27 fish breeds, crossbreeds as well as 9 domesticated forms of carp, salmon, sturgeon, coregonid and cichlid fish are now cultivated. In this century the production is around 100.000 tons annually.

Denmark (36.000 tones): Ranking sixth in the world's leading exporters of fish products, Denmark has a strong position in fish production and aquaculture has a long and well established tradition in the country. The main product produced is rainbow trout from freshwater ponds and mariculture units, the latter also producing roe as an important by-product. Eel is farmed in recirculated freshwater tank systems; mussels and oysters are produced in minor quantities and turbot fry is exported for further ongrowing. A variety of other species are raised primarily for restocking which represents an increasing share of total turnover.

Finland (15.000 tones): With decreasing catches of wild salmon in the Baltic Sea, aquaculture became a commercial activity in the 1970s and intensified in the 1980s. Most of the aquaculture installations are located in coastal areas and mariculture is particularly important in the Archipelago Sea and along the west coast of Finland. The most important species in aquaculture is rainbow trout raised in sea cages, representing around 80 per cent of the total production from aquaculture. The rest consists of rainbow trout raised in freshwater ponds and a few other finfish. There is also farming of crayfish and production of fry and salmon for restocking purposes in the Baltic Sea.

Sweden (6500 tones): Rainbow is the dominant specie in Swedish aquaculture. Total production in 2003 was just over 6500 tons. Sea trout, arctic char and salmon are amongst other species. Aquaculture is not a big part of the fishing industry in Sweden. It has had a steady production of around 5000-7000 tons for the last 20 years.

Iceland (5000 tones): Aquaculture began in Iceland just before the year 1900 with the first attempts to fertilize and hatch salmonid ova and to release the emerging fry into rivers. During the period 1985-90 a large-scale build up of salmonid farms took place. Most of these farms became bankrupt, however, and the nineties were characterised by stagnation in production. In the nineties, Icelandic scientist and farmers worked on developing aquaculture of species such as Atlantic halibut, turbot, abalone and Atlantic cod. From 2000 onwards, the main increase has occurred in the production of Atlantic salmon, Arctic char and Atlantic cod. Since 2004 Iceland has produces around 5000 tons annually with aquaculture.


Sources: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Grida Fisheries.is ACIA Report
Author: "hjalti@arcticportal.org (Hjalti Hreinsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week"
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Date: Friday, 09 Mar 2012 13:02
nordiskeflagg smallThe cornerstone of Nordic cooperation is the Nordic Council, which represents Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland. 

The "Norden" consists of two separate but interoperable entities, The Nordic Council, an official inter-parliamentary body, and the Nordic Council of Ministers, a forum for Nordic inter-governmental cooperation. In addition to the Council and the Council of Ministers, there are more than 20 official Nordic institutions – and about the same number of unofficial ones. The Nordic Innovation Centre (NICe), NordForsk, Nordic Culture Point, Nordic Project Fund (NOPEF), the Nordic Centre for Welfare and Social Issues and the Nordic School of Public Health (NHV) are full Nordic institutions, as are the Nordic houses in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. One of the main institutions in the second category is the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), which has been jointly owned by the five Nordic and three Baltic states since 2005. Another key organisation is the Nordic Cultural Fund, which supports culture in the Region as well as Nordic projects elsewhere in the world.

 

 

 

NCMThe Nordic Council is the official inter-parliamentary body. Formed in 1952, it has 87 elected members from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, as well as the three autonomous territories (Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Åland). The members are all national MPs nominated by the party groups in their home parliaments. There are no direct elections to the Council. It is run by a Presidium and convenes for an annual autumn meeting called the Session, which passes recommendations to the national governments. The main priorities in the work of the Nordic Council are: climate, environment and energy; education and research; and welfare and culture.

The cornerstone of the cooperation is The Helsinki Treaty, which regulates official cooperation between Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. It was signed on 23 March 1962 and came into force on 1 July 1962. The main objective of the treaty is to maintain and develop further co-operation between the Nordic countries in the legal, cultural, social and economic fields, as well as in those of transport and communications and environmental protection. In addition, the treaty establishes a foundation for joint positioning in matters of common interest which are dealt with by European and other international organisations and conferences.

The Council of Ministers is the official inter-governmental body. The prime ministers have overall responsibility for its work. In practice, this responsibility is delegated to the ministers for Nordic cooperation and the Nordic Co-operation Committee, which co-ordinates the day-to-day work. Despite its name, the Council of Ministers, which was founded in 1971, consists of several councils. These councils meet a couple of times a year. At present, there are 11 of them. 

On of the areas of Nordic cooperation is the Arctic. The Nordic countries cooperate to improve the quality of life for the indigenous peoples in the northern areas and to promote social and cultural development for the Arctic people. Nordic cooperation also strives to protect the sensitive and characteristic Arctic nature, and to ensure sustainable use of the region's resources, and protection of its biological diversity.

An Advisory Expert Committee was established in conjunction with the adoption of the new Arctic Co-operation Programme in 2002. The Arctic Expert Committee is made up of Nordic members of the Arctic Council and representatives from the autonomous territories. In Nordic Council terms the Arctic Expert Committee will offer advice to the Ministers for Co-operation and the Nordic Co-operation Committee on matters relating to the Arctic.

Following the increasing importance of the Arctic region in international politics, the Nordic Council will discuss the controversial question of a Nordic strategy for the Arctic Region in its meeting in Reykjavik, 21-23 March, 2012 . The meeting will also discuss oil extraction in the Arctic and recommendations for allocating responsibilities in the event of environmental incidents. A plenary session will be in the Icelandic parliament on Friday 23 March, 08:30-11:45 local time. It will be broadcasted live on-line at www.norden.org/temasession2012.


Sources: Norden.org, Nordic Co-operation
 

Author: "leena@arcticportal.org (Leena-Kaisa Viitanen)" Tags: "Feature of the week"
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Date: Friday, 17 Feb 2012 07:51
Permafrost doeas not always mean that the ground is covered in ice or snow (Photo: Thinkstock))Permafrost covers a large area of the Arctic and a total of 25% of the earth surface. But what is it and why is it in the focal point of contemporary climate change research.

1. What is Permafrost?
Permafrost is defined as ground (soil or rock and included ice or organic material) that remains at or below 0°C for at least two consecutive years. Therefore, the ground is permanently frozen, hence the name Permafrost.

Most of the permafrost that exists today was formed during cold glacial periods. It has persisted through interglacial periods the last 10,000 years. Relatively shallow permafrost (30 to 70 meters) was formed during the last 6,000 years and some during the Little Ice Age (from 400 to 150 years ago). In continental interiors, permafrost temperatures at the boundaries between continuous and discontinuous permafrost areas are generally about -5°C, corresponding roughly with the -8°C mean annual air temperature.

Permafrost in mid- and low- latitude mountains is warm and its distribution is closely related to characteristics of the land surface, slope gradient and orientation, vegetation patterns, and snow cover.

Subsea permafrost occurs close to 0°C over large areas of the Arctic continental shelf, where it was formed during the last glacial period on the exposed shelf landscapes.

Permafrost is geographically continuous beneath the ice-free regions of the Antarctic continent and occurs beneath areas in which the ice sheet is frozen to its bed.

100547419 Small2. Why is it important?
Climate scientists have predicted that global warming will warm the earth of at least two degrees Celsius by the year 2100. Some say the figure could rise to 5 degrees. This will have significant effects on permafrost regions.

Climate change will lead to the earths warming, therefore melting large permafrost areas. The projections are that permafrost will though not disappear completely. A projected decline in the extent of permafrost will have a major impact on the Earth ecosystem, affecting global climate through the mobilization of carbon and nitrogen stored in permafrost.

The largest permafrost areas are in Siberia, where the thickest permafrost can also be found. In Central Siberia the soil can be frozen to a depth of over 1500 meters. Permafrost is also common in Alaska and Canada. Click the map on the right to expand it and see the main permafrost areas.

On the southern fringes of permafrost areas, where the permafrost is already relatively warm, it could disappear completely. Further north, much more soil could melt - perhaps up to 80 centimeters deep instead of 50 centimeters, as it is today.
In all these areas fauna and flora have to adjust. Where the soil was previously dry, it could become wet. Conversely, areas with many lakes can suddenly dry up, because of the thawing permafrost. The thawing can become so severe, that the permafrost becomes permeable and the lake water will seep into the underlying ground.

But humans could ultimately be effected as well, and in fact already have. In Siberia, railway lines have subsided and therefore are ruined. Many areas, in Siberia especially, could be affected since many things are built on permafrost. When the ground thaws, the foundation can fall, like the case with the railway lines. Same applies to some airport runways, roads and households, both in Siberia, Alaska and Canada.

Thawing permafrost can further make Oil pipelines unstable both in Russia, Alaska and Canada. The Trans-Alaskan pipeline system is in some places built on permafrost. If it would fall it could cause a major disaster. Houses have also fallen because of permafrost thaw, like the picture at the top shows.

Another aspect of the permafrost thaw is the methane buried under it. The effects of such greenhouse gas release are still unknown and further research on this is both needed and due. General consensus is that the permafrost thaw will lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

 3. PAGE21
As noted, further research is necessary. Currently, numerous prestige institutions are working together within the "PAGE21 – Changing Permafrost in the Arctic and its Global Effects in the 21st Century" project to better understand the feedbacks of the Arctic permafrost carbon and nitrogen pools to global climate change.

PAGE21 will aim to understand and quantify the vulnerability of permafrost environments to a changing global climate, and to investigate the feedback mechanisms associated with increasing greenhouse gas emissions from permafrost zones.
This research will make use of a unique set of Arctic permafrost investigations performed at stations that span the full range of Arctic bioclimatic zones. The project will bring together the best European permafrost researchers and eminent scientists from Canada, Russia, the USA, and Japan.

The four year project, coordinated by Dr. Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, will contribute directly to the existing permafrost monitoring frameworks to further research into permafrost and climate change and works in close connection with members of the IPCC 5th Assessment Working Group.

Sources: International Permafrost Association   I   Alfred Wegener Institution   I   PAGE21 website

Author: "hjalti@arcticportal.org (Hjalti Hreinsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week"
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Date: Wednesday, 01 Feb 2012 09:44
 Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) is seeking renewable energy science specialists for their post doctoral positions in Fairbanks, Alaska. The position is in cooperation with the University of Alaska.

ACEP is an applied research program currently working under a private sector business model within the University of Alaska, in partnership with Alaska Energy Authority, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and others partner institutions. It was established in January 2008 as a gateway for renewable energy related activities.

Through the years, the Center has been developing various research projects. They include diesel efficiency, energy economics, energy storage, geothermal, biomass, methane capture, alternative fuels, in-river hydro, tidal energy, and wind power. Please, click here for the full list of available projects.

The Alaska Center for Energy and Power aims to meet international and domestic demands for applied energy research in order to increase a possibility of lowering the cost of energy for state's industries and private individuals what would equal an increase of economy development. ACEP focuses on world class energy resources as oil, gas and coal, which Alaska is wealthy of.

The Center strives to be agile, demands - driven and interdisciplinary within their field of expertise, in the middle of global opportunities associated with large, undeveloped areas in the northern hemisphere, rural villages and remote industrial sites. It also seeks to increase educational opportunities for both, young researchers and experienced professionals in order to ensure that the global research is conducted in relevant way on world class level.

ACEP, through the Institute of Northern Engineering (INE) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), invites applications for a post-doctoral positions in data management, acquisition, and analysis related to hybrid power and energy systems to be filled immediately. Successful applicants will be expected to have a strong commitment to aid in the creative development of research programs to support development of next generation energy systems for rural Alaska and other islanded grid networks. For more information on this position please click here.

ACEP seeks qualified applied research faculty in our multi-disciplinary research organization who are interested in pursuing an exciting, fast paced position. Researchers will have experience in energy related fields and an interest in developing pragmatic solutions for fossil or renewable energy production in the unique Alaskan energy environment. Appointments will generally be made at the assistant research professor level, though higher ranks will be considered.

The Center is particularly interested in faculty that matches well with its growth areas, energy and natural resources, and climate and the environment. Research faculty positions in INE are grant funded, though ACEP will provide 3 months of salary support when warranted. Although an earned doctorate is not mandatory, it is highly recommended. Successful applicants will have a demonstrated success record in research, including publications and outreach.

ACEP is based at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the projects and research partners are located through out the state. The mission of ACEP is to meet state and local needs for applied energy research by working toward developing, refining, demonstrating, and ultimately helping commercialize marketable technologies. ACEP is a leader in Alaska-specific energy solutions and strives to exceed expectations by offering dynamic, timely projects responsive to public and private sector needs.

The Alaskan beauty which is considered to be one of the most amazing places on earth, offers the opportunities to interact with the wildlife, unique landscape and small communities.

For more information with regards to current projects and career opportunities, please visit the homepage of Alaska Center for Energy and Power, contact Gwen Holdmann at gwen.holdmann@alaska.edu or Magdalena at magda@arcticportal.org.
Author: "magda@arcticportal.org (Magda)" Tags: "Feature of the week"
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Date: Thursday, 26 Jan 2012 09:50
 UArctic´s network (Photo: UArctic)"In the North, for the North, by the North" - the motto of the University of the Arctic. It was founded in 2001 and is an international cooperative network consisting of universities, colleges and other organizations with an interest in promoting education and research in the Arctic.

The overall goal of the University of the Arctic is to create a strong, sustainable circumpolar region by empowering indigenous peoples and other northerners through education, mobility and shared knowledge.

One aspect of UArctic is it´s Thematic Networks. That increases cooperation between the member institutions on specific topics. Among the topics are Arctic Coastal and Marine Issues, Arctic Medicine, Energy in New Time, Global Change, Northern Agriculture, Northern Tourism and others.

Each network has a leader and these leaders meet regularly to discuss what they have done, what they want to do and to get ideas and thoughts from their collegues.

The last meeting was in AKureyri, Iceland, late in January of 2012. Arctic Portal was there and captured videos of the meetings. Here are interviews with various people around the meeting.

Lars Kullerud, president of UArctic, talks about the school, the thematic network and the meeting in Akureyri:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouylRLLW_E0


Kirsi Latola, director of Thematic Networks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjP33oblHYI

Professor Karen Tanino, Dept. Plant Sciences, College of Agriculture and Bioresources, University of Saskatchewan , talks about Northern Agriculture Thematic Network.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbY7-W91GOI

Peter Weiss, Director of the University Center of the Westfjords, talks about the Arctic Coastal and Marine Themtic Network.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ieCJU4Ro88

Tomi Knuutila, University of Lapland, Finland, talks about Thematic Network Digital Media and Media Arts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtR0_yNm4pM
Author: "hjalti@arcticportal.org (Hjalti Hreinsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week"
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Date: Monday, 17 Oct 2011 15:20

paul-nicklen-photographs-three-atlantic-walrusesPaul Nicklen uses his camera to reveal the nature of a world melting away under human-induced global warming. He works for National Geographic magazine.

“I call myself an interpreter and a translator,” says Nicklen.  “I translate what the scientists are telling me. If we lose ice, we stand to lose an entire eco-system.  I hope we can realize through my photography how inter-connected these species are to ice.  It just takes one image to get someone’s attention.”

On the website Ted.com he shared some of his amazing stories from the Arctic and Antarctic. He lived with Inuits for several years as a child, falling in love with the Arctic, and subsequentlythe Antarctic.

His pictures are taken both underwater and above waters.

One is particularly amazing, his encounter with a leopard seal where he faced sudden death, but in the end portrayed photos of the seal eating penguins. He formed a friendship with the leopard seal in the ice cold water.

Here is Paul’s story and his photos.

Author: "hjalti@arcticportal.org (Hjalti Hreinsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week 2011"
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Date: Monday, 26 Sep 2011 08:53
IMG_0151Are you interested in learning more about the Arctic, Antarctic or the cryosphere in general? Thinking of going to graduate school or gaining extra credibility through a certificate programme or another degree?  

APECS has gathered information to help prospective students finding their way in Arctic studies.

Here on the APECS website you can find a searchable database which includes graduate programmes that have a focus or specialty in any field of Arctic, Antarctic, Alpine or other areas within the cryosphere – ranging from social sciences and law to ecology, geology, physics and more.

The purpose is to provide prospective students with information on those programmes, such as disciplinary focus areas, website links, typical program duration, application deadlines, costs and, where available, financial support.

APECS encourages universities and individuals to enter programme information to the database, as well as posting current openings for graduate research and teaching assistantships on the APECS jobs page.

APECS, the University of the Arctic, and the International Antarctic Institute are working collaboratively to compile this inventory of programmes worldwide.

Click here to access the database.
Author: "hjalti@arcticportal.org (Hjalti Hreinsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week 2011"
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Date: Tuesday, 20 Sep 2011 15:40
37The 6th NRF Open Assembly in Hveragerði, Iceland, was a success. From all over the world scientists, policy-makers and others gathered to learn and share their ideas about Our Ice Dependant World.

Arctic Portal was on site for the Assembly, recording the presentations.

Along with broadcasting the event live on its website, one can now access all the videos right here on the Arctic Portal website.

Available are also all the presentations from the lecturers.

Simply click on the links to download or open the presentations and click on the videos to watch.

Note that not all speakers had Powerpoint or PDF shows.

Here are over 100 pictures from the event, taken by Arctic Portal.

Click here to download the thematic program.

IMPORTAND: Note that all the presentations are copyrighted.



Presentations:
Sigurðsson, Stefán B.  - Stefán B. Sigurðsson, Rector of University of Akureyri. Opening statement.

Itta, Edward  - Life in North Slope Borough. 

Song, Yongjia  - Sea Ice melting in Arctic. 

Jóhannsson, Halldór  - Arctic Portal - The Arctic gateway. 

Björnsson, Helgi  - Can we imagine a World without Ice? 

Finger, Matthias  - The "State" of the Arctic. 

Rogoff, Alice  - AlaskaDispatch.com.

Videos:

Holmberg, Liisa  - Ice and the Saami People. 

Song, Yongjia  - Sea Ice melting in Arctic. 

Alfreðsson, Guðmundur  - Human Rights on Ice. 

Pettersson, Lasse  - Arctic laws. 

Jóhannsson, Halldór  - Arctic Portal. 

Kullerud, Lars  - Knowledge on Ice. 

Björnsson, Helgi  - A world without ice. 

Finger, Matthias  - The state of the Arctic. 

Rogoff, Alice  - AlaskaDispatch. 

Heininen, Lassi  - Closing remarks. 
Author: "hjalti@arcticportal.org (Hjalti Hreinsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week 2011"
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Date: Wednesday, 17 Aug 2011 11:38

rax1After 25 years in the Arctic, Icelandic photographer Ragnar Axelsson (Rax) has not only pictured the people in the North, he has seen and felt the effects of climate change to it.

A new documentary, titled Last days of the Arctic, follows Rax around the Arctic where he revisited the people he met. The film succeeds his books, Faces of the North (2004) and Last days of the Arctic (2010).

rax2“The film succeeds the books.  We travelled everywhere and met the people, but the weather was too good! I missed the storms I saw when some of the pictures were taken,” Rax told the Arctic Portal website.

He stopped counting his trips to Greenland. “I think they might be around 25-27. That averages about one a year. It is very expansive to go to Greenland and sometimes I did not gain anything. Then I just had to go home and collect more money for the next trip.”

Born and raised near a glacier in Iceland, he has seen the effects of global warming, both at home and in his trips. “One can definitely see it when travelling to the same places, 5 or 10 years later. The landscape is constantly changing. I did not realize the effects at first, I just wanted to go and shoot beautiful photos. I wanted to go where nobody had gone, challenging the cold, the distances and the weather. So many photographers just want to sit around in Africa, naked in the sun,” he joked.

“I saw the effects of climate change when I started. Sometimes with my eyes, the ice had melted, and sometimes with help of the Greenlandic hunters. They are amazing. They know all about this. They can feel it, it is in their bones.”

“You could ride in a dogsled around one area, but in the next trip the ice was too thin. Some areas became impassible.”

The film is called Last days of the Arctic, but is that really the case? Are the hunters life’s threatened by climate change?

“Well, the film is a thought about this. The Arctic will change, including the lives of the people. Hunters rely on areas to fish and hunt, some of these areas will be impossible to reach when the ice is to thin,” Rax said.

The film was shown on BBC4 and has travelled around the globe since. The receptions have been excellent and it will premiere in Iceland on August 19th.

Visit Rax´s webpage here, where you can see some of his amazing photos from the Arctic.

The film preview:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Days of the Arctic - Trailer from Sagafilm Productions on Vimeo.

Author: "hjalti@arcticportal.org (Hjalti Hreinsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week 2011"
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Date: Friday, 10 Jun 2011 14:11

uarctic10_yearsIn Rovaniemi 8th of june 2011, the Council of the University of the Arctic (UArctic) celebrates the tenth anniversary of its launch, which was held in the same city in 2001. The occasion is being marked by a special seminar organized at the University of Lapland on the theme of Green Growth and the Arctic.

The occasion is being marked by a special seminar organized at the University of Lapland on the theme of Green Growth and the Arctic, with keynote speeches from Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (President of Iceland), Hannele Pokka (Permanent Secretary of Finland's Ministry of the Environment), Gustaf Lind (Sweden's Arctic Ambassador), and J. Okalik Eegeesiak (President of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association). The seminar discussions examined the question of whether a 'Green Growth' opportunity exists for the Arctic, or whether the destiny of the North is to remain an area of resource extraction.

The Chair of the UArctic Council, Jim McDonald of the University of Northern British Columbia remarks, "It is only appropriate that the University of the Arctic returns to Rovaniemi to mark the first decade of its remarkable growth and development. Lapland has been the crucible for many important circumpolar processes. It should be noted that UArctic's tenth anniversary coincides – not coincidentally – with the twentieth anniversary of the Rovaniemi process that began in 1991 with the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, which led to the establishment of the Arctic Council. The decisions taken here pave the way for our organization's next ten years."

uarctic_locationsThe history of UArctic goes long back, to a proposal made to the Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council to look into the establishment of an 'Arctic university.' The subsequent work performed by the Circumpolar Universities Association laid the groundwork for the network and activities that exist today.

On June 12, 2001, the University of the Arctic officially came into being. At a Launch event in Rovaniemi, Finland, two hundred people gathered to celebrate the realization of this dream. The organization was established with the principles of interdisciplinarity, circumpolarity and diversity. Its strength based on support not only by institutions of higher education and governments, but also that of northern indigenous peoples. In the first years after the launch, UArctic's core programmatic activities were established with the Circumpolar Studies undergraduate program and the north2north mobility program. Enrollments in Circumpolar Studies and north2north exchanges now number many hundred, and these first students are already making their mark in northern science and public leadership.

The UArctic International Secretariat was established at the University of Lapland, Finland, in 2001, and soon afterwards UArctic hired President Lars Kullerud to lead the activities and overall development of UArctic. UArctic's administration was gradually distributed to offices in almost all Arctic countries. The establishment of Thematic Networks in 2005 marked a new direction in UArctic's programmatic delivery, supporting new research and educational cooperation among smaller groups of members with common interests and expertise. This development was also supported by increased graduate-level programs including PhD networks and field schools.

uarctic_thematic_networksThe University of the Arctic's importance as an international actor was demonstrated in the role it played in the 2007-2008 International Polar Year, helping to coordinate the education and outreach activities resulting from the IPY's international scientific research projects. The UArctic Rectors' Forum first met in 2007, which provided a new opportunity for the leadership of the circumpolar region's higher education institutions to address areas of common interest. To better serve its members, UArctic developed the GoNorth program to promote student recruitment to northern higher education institutions and the UArctic Catalogue as joint listing of course and program information from all members.

UArctic has accomplished much to date in creating an empowered and sustainable North. It is telling that the organization's original vision, goals and values remain valid today, while it has grown to meet additional needs and serve more areas of the Circumpolar North. The success of the organization can truly be seen, however, in the large numbers of students who have benefited from educational opportunities that would not have been possible without the University of the Arctic and the collective efforts of its members.

 

Further information about the University of the Arctic:

Mission Statement
Timeline
UArctic Council
UArctic Thematic Networks

uarctic_flower

 

 

 

Source: UArctic

Author: "sigmar@unak.is (Sigmar Arnarsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week 2011"
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Date: Friday, 27 May 2011 16:06

reindeerScientists from the UCL University have discovered that reindeer can not only see ultraviolet (UV) light, but that it is also crucial to their survival in the harsh Arctic environment.

A research team from the UCL, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, published a study which shows that this remarkable visual ability allows reindeer to take in life-saving information in conditions where normal mammalian vision would make them vulnerable to starvation, predators and territorial conflict.

Winter conditions in the Arctic mean that the sun barely rises in the middle of the day and light is scattered such that the majority of light that reaches objects is blue or UV. In addition to this, snow can reflect up to 90% of the UV light that falls on it.

"We discovered that reindeer can not only see ultraviolet light but they can also make sense of the image to find food and stay safe. Humans and almost all other mammals could never do this as our lenses just don't let UV through into the eye." Says Glen Jeffery, Professor of Neuroscience at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, and the lead researcher on the project.

reindeer3Humans are able to see light with wavelengths ranging from around 700 nanometres (nm), which corresponds to the colour red, right through all the colours of the rainbow in sequence to 400nm, which corresponds to violet. Professor Jeffery and his team tested the reindeer's vision to see what wavelengths they could see and found that they can handle wavelengths down to around 350–320nm, which is termed ultraviolet, because it exceeds the extreme of the so-called visible spectrum of colours.

"When we used cameras that could pick up UV, we noticed that there are some very important things that absorb UV light and therefore appear black, contrasting strongly with the snow. This includes urine – a sign of predators or competitors; lichens – a major food source in winter; and fur, making predators such as wolves very easy to see despite being camouflaged to other animals that can't see UV." Says Jeffery.

reindeer4The research also raises the question of how reindeer protect their eyes from being damaged by UV, which is thought to be harmful to human vision.

"In conditions where there is a lot of UV – when surrounded by snow, for example – it can be damaging to our eyes. In the process of blocking UV light from reaching the retina, our cornea and lens absorb its damaging energy and can be temporarily burned. The front of the eye becomes cloudy and so we call this snow blindness. Although this is normally reversible and plays a vital role to protect our sensitive retinas from potential damage, it is very painful."

"The question remains as to why the reindeer's eyes don't seem to be damaged by UV. Perhaps it's not as bad for eyes as we first thought? Or maybe they have a unique way of protecting themselves, which we could learn from and perhaps develop new strategies to prevent or treat the damage the UV can cause to humans." Professor Jeffery added.

Source: UCL

Author: "sigmar@unak.is (Sigmar Arnarsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week 2011"
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Date: Monday, 23 May 2011 11:52

The first international agreement made exclusively for the Arctic region was signed at the ministerial meeting in Nuuk, May 12 2011. The agreement, which deals with search and rescue of aeronautical and maritime vessels and passengers, is also the first international agreement made under the auspices of the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council is now planning another international agreement for adoption which will deal with oil pollution in the Arctic.

Illustrative_Map_for_Arctic_SAR_Agreement
The Agreement on cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic (Agreement) was made in accordance with the 1979 International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) and the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation, both of which are established and widely recognized international law. The objective of the Agreement is, however, to further strengthen aeronautical and maritime search and rescue cooperation and coordination in the Arctic. In order for that to be clear, each member state was given a particular Search and Rescue area which it is responsible for.

The main emphasis of the Agreement is to develop swift and efficient measures when accidents occur in the harsh Arctic region and to ensure, as much as possible, proper search and rescue operations. This is done by the clauses where the member states commit themselves to nominate certain national institutions in each state that will have full discretion in the field of search and rescue in the area. These national institutions are not only bound to take efficient measures, but also to notify other relevant national institutions when appropriate.

The most significant clause of the Agreement is Art. 8 where member states obligate themselves to send a permission request to another member state when e.g. a rescue vessel enters the Search and Rescue area of another State. This is obviously not unconventional, but the article also states that the receiving national institution “shall immediately confirm such receipt” and, as soon as possible, let the member state of the requesting vessel know if the request is permitted and under which conditions, if any.

Needless to say, the Agreement is only the beginning of a specific cooperation among the Arctic states and, as clearly stated in the Agreement, it will develop and be subject of amendments as search and rescue operation in the region become more apparent. The idea is then to make the Agreement more effective and cooperation more efficient. These objectives might be reached by the statements made in Art. 9 of the Agreement, where signatories oblige to maintain widespread cooperation on search and rescue. The most important cooperative measures of the member states is exchange of information on e.g. communication details, information about search and rescue facilities, lists of available airfields and ports and their refueling and resupply capabilities, knowledge of fueling, supply and medical facilities and information useful for training search and rescue personnel.

The Agreement will without any doubt strengthen cooperation between the Arctic states and improve the way Arctic countries respond to emergency calls in the region. The necessity of such an agreement and cooperation is great, as accidents in the region rely on swift responses and efficient operations, as much as fully qualified rescue personnel and equipment. It is hoped that the Agreement will not just work as an important instrument for saving properties and lives, but also to further forge the cooperation of the Arctic states.

Author: "huni@arcticportal.org (Húni Heiðar Hallsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week 2011"
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Date: Tuesday, 10 May 2011 13:42
abt_front_coverUnique Arctic habitats for flora and fauna, including sea ice, tundra, lakes, and peatlands have been disappearing over recent decades, and some characteristic Arctic species have shown a decline. The changes in Arctic Biodiversity have global repercussions and are further creating challenges for people living in the Arctic.

The above statements are examples on the key findings describing changes in Arctic biodiversity that is presented in 'The Arctic Biodiversity Trends – 2010: Selected Indicators of Change', a new report synthesizing scientific findings on the status and trends for selected biodiversity in the Arctic issued by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Working Group under the Arctic Council.
A constant issue noted as critical is the need for Arctic wide monitoring programmes. CAFFs Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme (CBMP – www.cbmp.is) has developed the first arctic wide marine ecosystem monitoring programme which has been endorsed by the Arctic Council. This plan is now starting to be implemented will help short the gap between the collection and analysis of data to its availability to decision makers.

 

Arctic Biodiversity – affected by multiple stressors

arctic_foxThe Arctic Biodiversity Trends 2010 Report, produced by some of the world's leading experts of Arctic ecosystems and biodiversity, was the Arctic Council's contribution to the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity in 2010.

In 2008, the United Nations Environment Program passed a resolution expressing 'extreme concern' over the impacts of climate change on Arctic indigenous peoples, other communities, and biodiversity. It highlighted the potentially significant consequences of changes in the Arctic. The Arctic Biodiversity Trends – 2010: Selected Indicators of Change report indicates that some of those anticipated impacts on Arctic biodiversity are already occurring.

The report is based on twenty-two indicators and provides a snapshot of the trends being observed in Arctic biodiversity today. The polar bear is one of the most well-known species impacted by changes in the Arctic, but it is not the only one. The indicators show that the Arctic has changed dramatically during recent decades and that unique Arctic habitats for flora and fauna are disappearing. Furthermore, some species of importance to Arctic people or species of global attention are declining.

The report presents a broad spectrum of changes in the Arctic ecosystems and biodiversity.

  • Polar bears are highly specialized for and dependent on sea ice for their habitat. Therefore they are particularly sensitive and vulnerable to the documented significant reductions in sea ice cover in parts of the Arctic and to the thinning of multi-year ice in the polar basin. Status and trends for many populations are not available, but research on some populations demonstrates that they have decreased over the past several decades, and population and habitat modelling have projected substantial future declines in the distribution and abundance of polar bears.
  • The vegetation comprising tundra ecosystems – various species of grasses, sedges, mosses, and lichens – are, in some places, being replaced by species typical of more southern locations, such as evergreen shrubs.
  • Trees are beginning to encroach on the tundra at its southern margin and some models project that by 2100 the tree line will have advanced north by as much as 500 km, resulting in a loss of 51% of tundra habitat.
  •  In recent years, on average, the southern limit of permafrost in northern peatlands has retreated by 39 km and by as much as 200 km in some parts of Arctic. Peatlands are significant for the floristic diversity of the Arctic because their species comprise 20–30% of the Arctic and sub-Arctic flora. Moreover, many bird species with conservation priority are strongly associated with tundra and mire habitats.
  • Cold water coral reefs, coral gardens, and sponge aggregations provide a habitat for a variety of fish and invertebrates and thus represent biodiversity hotspots in the Arctic seas. These habitats are vulnerable to fisheries and other human activities such as oil and gas exploration.

svartfuglDepending on the magnitude of these and other changes, certain ecosystems may no longer be considered 'Arctic'. The result may be that many of the species thriving in the Arctic today are not able to survive there in the future.

A key finding in the Report is that climate change is emerging as the most far-reaching and significant stressor on Arctic biodiversity, though contaminants, habitat change, industrial development, and unsustainable harvest levels continue to have impacts.

The importance of Arctic ecosystems for biodiversity is immense and therefore a more thorough examination of the state of affairs is needed. Thus, leading Arctic scientists are currently engaged in making a full and comprehensive Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, which is will be completed in 2013.

A primary challenge is to shorten the gap between when data is collected to when it has been processed and presented to decision makers to allow for a quicker response time. CAFF has recognised this challenge and in recent years worked towards developing a solution.

This approach has focused on not just developing traditional assessments but also addressing the creation of a framework to allow for the collection, processing and analysis of data on a continuous basis – the CBMP. The aim being through the ABA not to produce a traditional one off static assessment but rather to create a baseline of current knowledge and at the same time developing the engine which will feed data into this baseline allowing it to become a dynamic living tool. One which is sustainable and can produce regular and more flexible assessments and analyses.

Practical information
Further information and a press kit can be found at www.caff.is.
Further information can be found by email: tom@caff.is or contacting Tom Barry at +354 861 9824.

Author: "sigmar@unak.is (Sigmar Arnarsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week 2011"
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Date: Thursday, 07 Apr 2011 16:03

althingishusIceland has decided to support Canada and Norway in the case against the EU trade ban on seal products. This was decided on a meeting on dispute settlement on the 25th of March. It was also decided on the meeting that Iceland will join the case as a third party member agains the EU trade ban.
Iceland is one of six countries where seal hunting is still practiced. The others are Canada, Norway and Russia, which are not EU members states; Greenland, which is a Danish region but has autonomy in its domestic affairs; and Namibia in southern Africa.

This decision of Iceland is in harmony with previous statements of the country. The ban, which was adopted by the EU Council on 27th of July 2009 and came into effect on the 20th August 2010 was also opposed by the Icelandic goverment in april 2009, where the minister of Fisheries- and agriculture sent a letter to the EU Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. Worries about impending legislation where mentioned along with other reasons opposing the trade ban. The Icelandic minister for fisheries had also declered his support about the case at the 15th North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers Conference, which was held in Canada in july 2010.

Photo by: Bergvin Snær Nesmann AndréssonIceland´s opposition is also shown in the NAMMCO statement on EU import ban on seal products. There, the bans is seen as contrary to international principles for conservation and sustainable management. Along with Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Norway, as well as observer nations to NAMMCO, Canada, the Russian Federation and Japan, reiterated their serious concerns about the EU ban on the import of seal products into the European Union.

In the NAMMCO statement it is mentioned that the trade ban ignores and undermines the internationally recognized principles on which conservation and management of marine resources in the North Atlantic are firmly based. It has serious and detrimental consequences for the economies of the many communities dependent on abundant seal stocks across the North Atlantic. Therefore the incorporation of the ban into European Union legislation is said to be a huge step backwards for sustainable development and international trade.

It is further statet that the nations cooperating through NAMMCO are committed to promoting the principle of sustainable development in all areas of cooperation in the region, including the sustainable use of seals. Such cooperation is based on mutual respect and recognition of the rights of all peoples to use their resources responsibly and sustainably for their economic development, including the right to benefit from international trade.

seal1It is finalized in the NAMMCO statemant that conservation and management of all living marine resources should be science-based and should take account of the marine ecosystems and the interrelation between species, stocks and habitats in which fishing and hunting activities occur.
Canada appealed to the European Union the trade ban on seal products to the World Trade Organization. Canadian Fisheries Minister, Gail Shea, has stated that she does not believe the government's fight for seal hunters will damage other industries that employ more people. Fisheries minister has mentioned that other Canadian industries might be damaged if the country does not take a stand on what she insists is a matter of principle and needs to be ruled on facts, not emotions. A decision from the WTO could take a year or more.
The EU trade ban on seal productus has affected Canada's Inuit community. Despite the fact that the Inuit are exempt from the ban, they no longer have a market for sealskins; a by-product of their subsistence hunt.

A documentary has been made that brings together commentary from Inuit hunters, community leaders and an emotional testimonial from local people.

Seal Ban: The Inuit Impact - Documentary

Sources:

The Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture

NAMMCO

Eye on the Arctic

 

Author: "sigmar@unak.is (Sigmar Arnarsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week 2011"
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Date: Friday, 25 Mar 2011 16:06

polar_bear_family

Construction workers at an Alaskan oil construction project had just finished building the ice road connecting their land-based operations to a nearby island when a worker made a discovery that would bring them to a halt for days. There, on the edge of the manmade island not too far from where the road entered, was a polar bear. This wasn't just any polar bear. There, in the Beaufort Sea close to an oil industry drilling project, appeared a mother bear and her cub.

The Alaska´s newest oil producer, ENI, just brought online earlier this year its shore-based Oliktok Point drilling operation, which sits east of Barrow along Alaska's north slope close to Prudhoe Bay. Work at the nearby island, known as the Spy Island Development site, was under way to prepare the manmade island for drilling that's expected to begin this fall. But the discovery of the polar bear den triggered an immediate pause that only the bear's departure could lift.

feature_polar_bearActivities at the island could resume as early as Wednesday evening provided the bears, which haven't been seen for at least two days, do not resurface.
Bruce Woods at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service says It's rare for a bear sighting and den to force a shut-down of work altogether.

It's not uncommon for industry to run across polar bears, and avoidance rules are in place to help minimize the impacts to the animals and the danger they may pose to humans. Roads may have to be rerouted and people may have to change the routes they take. When an inhabited den is discovered, a one mile quiet zone must be established around the site, states Tom Evans, a polar bear biologist with the USFWS Anchorage office. Due to this, alll operations are ceased until the bears are gone from the den site.

In the two decades that Evans has worked for the service, he has heard of a bear den forcing work to stop only a handful of times.
After ENI's employees immediately stopped what they were doing and made the call about the Spy Island bears, biologists from Evans' office traveled to the site to monitor the situation. They set up cameras and used an infrared scope to measure whether any heat was present.

This particular mother bear apparently made her winter home by burrowing into a snowdrift that had formed along a series of large gravel sacks on the perimeter of the island that are used to help protect it from ice and erosion. It's thought that by Monday, three days after the bears were first seen, that the duo had moved on. Biologists followed tracks leading away from the site for several miles and never found evidence that the bear had circled or turned back. It's likely, Evans said, that she headed off in search of seals to eat. With a young cub, though, she's not likely to try to do much deepwater swimming and will probably stay on the ice pack that's still connected to the shore rather than venture out to the southward-floating pack ice, Evans said.

polar_bear_lazyThe biologists monitoring the bears didn't personally witness their departure, but workers apparently saw the bears leaving the area on Sunday, according to Evans. And, he said, the scientists haven't had time to review their surveillance footage to find out if they captured any images of the bears.
Biologists are aware of two other dens in the same region -- one on Howe Island, and another on a section of gravel along the coastline known as the "staging pad" -- but neither have impacted industry operations.

Bears typically make their dens in November. Cubs are born in January, and mid-March to mid-April is generally when they start to emerge, and a mother bear's hunger level will determine how much time she spends with her cub hanging around the den. Sometimes, bears will wait up to two weeks before moving on, he said.

polar_bearENI Petroleum, headquartered in Italy, was unable to immediately respond to questions about the bear sighting or the shutdown of its construction operations, according to Hans Niedig, the company's Anchorage-based government and external affairs manager, citing the company's formal protocol for receiving and responding to questions from the press.

Provided the bears don't show up again, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had planned to let ENI resume operations at Spy Island.
Everybody did the right thing, Woods said, which resulted in a good outcome. "There was no harm to anybody, and no harm to the bears," he said.

 

Sources:

Reported by Alaska Dispatch

Pictures:

Google Maps

Polar Bear International

Author: "sigmar@unak.is (Sigmar Arnarsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week 2011"
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Date: Wednesday, 23 Mar 2011 11:32

ossur_skarpAlthing, the Icelandic parliament is now developing an Arctic policy for the Icelandic government. The work is being conducted under the management of the Icelandic foreign minister Össur Skarphéðinsson. Icelandic authorities are becoming aware of the state’s significant status within the Arctic and regional cooperation and have thus decided that a declared policy is needed for the Icelandic state to have impact on future developments in the area. The main aim of the policy is to secure Icelandic interests within the region and strengthen relations with other Arctic states and various stakeholders.

One significant political aspect can be found in the proposed policy, namely to make sure Iceland is considered to be an Arctic coastal state. This is thought to be important in order to reverse the recent development of the Arctic five meetings. Icelandic authorities do not welcome any deliberate undermining of the Arctic Council as the forum for regional cooperation on Arctic matters and would rather want the Council to be strengthened. In addition to this political view, the Icelandic government wants international obligations and agreements to be observed in decision-making and settlements of disputes.

In discussions on the proposed Arctic policy in the Althing, some concerns have been raised regarding the Arctic five meetings and there does seem to be a general view within the parliament that this development should be obstructed as possible. However, the clear will of the Icelandic government to secure the state’s spot as an Arctic coastal state seems to imply that such “Arctic six” meetings could be more welcomed with Iceland on board. In reality, this deliberation is rather improbable as the Icelandic government is keen on prevent the exile of small state actors such as the Faroe Islands and the non-Arctic coastal states within the Arctic Council, Finland and Sweden.

AlthingishusidAnother significant aspect of the proposed Icelandic Arctic policy is react against armament in the Arctic region has been raised in the parliament. This point has been discussed to a certain degree in the Althing, where the foreign minister has tried to water down the concerns of direct military confrontation or severe armament. The third significant political aspect of the discussions in the Althing about the policy is the EU negotiation phase and the outcome in Arctic matters for the European Union. Some concerns have been raised that the argument for Iceland as an Arctic coastal state is meant to secure the interests of the EU instead those of Iceland specifically. Even though this concern might be a bit farfetched, it was officially declared by the EU that Arctic matters were the primary gain for the EU with the membership of Iceland.

The Icelandic Arctic policy will consist of eleven general elements that together represent the main concerns of Icelandic authorities, in addition to interests that will be pursued. There are no big surprises in the proposed policy, with the development of Iceland’s status as an Arctic costal state as the exception. The focus of Icelandic government on the rights of indigenous peoples and other inhabitants of the Arctic is, however, also a significant attribute that could be seen as unusual.

The eleven elements of the proposed Arctic policy of the Icelandic government are as follows:

  1. Secure the status of Iceland as an Arctic coastal state regarding decisions on Arctic issues. This will be based on the geographical, economic and ecological reasons.
  2. Increase global understanding on that the Arctic region is not restricted to the area north of the Arctic Circle, but other areas based on various ecological, economic and geopolitical reasons.
  3. Strengthen the Arctic Council as the main cooperative body on Arctic issues and press for decisions to be made within the Council.
  4. Build on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which sets out the universal principles of marine governance.
  5. Strengthen and increase cooperation with the Faroe Islands and Greenland with the aim of increasing the economic and political status of the three states.
  6. Secure and support the rights of indigenous peoples in the Arctic and secure their involvement in decision making.
  7. Build on international agreements and encourage cooperation with other states and stakeholders on Arctic issues regarding Icelandic interests in the Arctic.
  8. Safeguard civil security interest in the Arctic and react against armament in the area. Increase cooperation with other states on preservation of wildlife, research, and preparedness in surveillance, search and rescue and pollution prevention in order to secure environmental, communal and sustainable development interests.
  9. Develop commercial cooperation between Arctic states and secure Icelandic opportunities in economic development within the region.
  10. Increase national knowledge on Arctic issues and introduce Iceland as a forum for conferences, meetings and discussions on Arctic issues. Effort shall be made to establish centers, research institutes and educational institutions on Arctic affairs in cooperation with other states and international institutions.
  11. Increase national consultation and cooperation on Arctic issues to secure increased knowledge on the status of the Arctic, democratic dialogue and solidarity on the implementation of the official Arctic policy. The foreign minister shall develop and implement the Arctic policy in consultation with the Althing’s committees on foreign affairs and environment.

No major changes are expected to be made on the eleven elements mentioned above. A few might, however, become more precise in order to make implementation easier. The implementation of the policy and the making of an Arctic strategy will be initiated after the proposed Arctic Policy has been developed. The proposed Arctic strategy will most likely be finalized in early summer of 2011.

Author: "huni@arcticportal.org (Húni Heiðar Hallsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week 2011"
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Date: Friday, 25 Feb 2011 16:57
the_aspen_instituteRecognizing that the circumpolar Arctic region is experiencing significant ecological change due to global climate change, the Aspen Institute convened a civil society Dialogue and Commission to consider the implications of this impending transformation for the region's inhabitants and resources. The Aspen Institute released a final report and recommendations of Commission, entitled "The Shared Future: A Report of the Aspen Institute Commission on Arctic Climate Change."

The report features a very special foreword by President Jimmy Carter and presents the Commission's recommendations, foremost of which is that governance in the Arctic marine environment should be sustained and strengthened by a new conservation and sustainable development plan based on using an ecosystem-based management approach.

The Commission believes marine spatial planning provides a workable method to begin implementation of ecosystem-based management. Governance of the Arctic can and should be strengthened through an inclusive and cooperative international approach that allows greater participation in information gathering and sharing, and decision-making, leading to better information policy choices and outcomes.
The report is issued under the auspices of the Aspen Institute and the members of the Aspen Institute Commission on Arctic Climate Change, with support from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

Aspen Climate Change Report

Aspen Climate Change Report - Handout

arctic_oceanThe report presents the Commission's recommendations, foremost of which is that governance in the Arctic marine environment, which is determined by domestic and international laws and agreements, including the Law of the Sea, should be sustained and strengthen by a new conservation and sustainable development plan using an ecosystem-based management approach. The Commission believes marine spatial planning provides a workable method or approach to begin implementation of ecosystem-based management. According to the Commission, Arctic governance can and should be strengthened through an inclusive and cooperative international approach that allows greater participation in information gathering and sharing, and decision-making, leading to better informed policy choices and outcomes.

gullThe Commission recognizes that this Aspen Dialogue has been a preliminary step toward a fuller discussion on the future of the Arctic marine environment. Its major discovery is that a more modern, holistic and integrating international plan is needed to sustainably steward and govern the Arctic marine environment. The Commission has made significant progress in understanding the needs and requirements for action to sustain the Arctic and realizes that in order to implement its recommendations the entire Arctic community must be engaged.

The Aspen Commission on Arctic Climate Change has identified the following initial Principles of Arctic Governance as forming the guiding foundation of its recommendations and the standards by which future governance and sustainable management of human activities in the Arctic marine environment should be measured. Specifically, governance and sustainable management of human activities in the Arctic marine environment should seek to:

  1. Optimize ecosystem resilience, integrity and productivity by maintaining food-web (trophic) structure and protecting and restoring biodiversity and available habitat.
  2. Maintain the full suite of Arctic ecosystem services to support human well-being on a continuing basis.
  3. Promote investment in scientific research and related infrastructure necessary to ensure sustainable development and environmental protection.
  4. Avoid exacerbating changes that may be difficult or impossible to reverse in temperature, sea-ice extent, pH, and other key physical, chemical and biological ecosystem parameters.
  5. Assess, monitor and manage multiple human activities using an integrated, adaptive, ecosystem-based management system that takes into account risks and cumulative and interacting effects.
  6. Apply ecosystem-based management processes based on science and traditional knowledge, particularly to new and expanded human activities which are subject to prior evaluation and analysis. Prudent measures to reduce or eliminate impacts are to be taken when there are reasonable grounds for concern that such activities, directly or indirectly, will bring about hazards to human health, harm living resources and ecosystems, damage amenities or interfere with other legitimate uses.
  7. Fully respect the rights, including human rights, of Arctic residents and Arctic indigenous peoples, and maximize participation in and transparency of decision-making for all interested stakeholders.
  8. Link global policy discussions to the need to conserve and manage Arctic ecosystems and dependent communities.
  9. Promote cooperation among Arctic states to arrive at appropriate standards for managing activities in the Arctic to meet the special conditions of the Arctic region, while promoting sustainable development.
  10. Inform, in a timely manner, national and international decision-makers as well as the public of the consequences of climate change impacts in the Arctic, and needed actions required to meet the above noted principles.

shippingThe Aspen Institute Commission on Arctic Climate Change believes that existing frameworks can be enhanced and new frameworks can be established to improve governance and strengthen resilience in the Arctic marine environment in response to climate change impacts and the need for adaptation readiness. The Commission developed its recommendations against the backdrop of at least three observable strategies currently discussed internationally to strengthen the Arctic Council; expand and strengthen the existing system of bilateral and multilateral agreements; and/or establish a new Framework Convention for Arctic governance.

Aspen Commission Recommendations

  1. Arctic governments should take immediate steps to begin developing an Arctic Marine Conservation and Sustainable Development Plan by 2012, in collaboration with civil society and other interested parties.
  2. Arctic governments, independently and collectively, should implement an integrated ecosystem-based management approach in the Arctic marine environment utilizing appropriate marine spatial planning, as well as regulatory rules and standards that address the special conditions of the Arctic region.
  3. In addition to an Arctic marine conservation and sustainable development plan, a number of specific actions should be initiated through the development of agreements or standards that foster consistent implementation among and across Arctic governments.
  4. An open-source Arctic network, focused on ecosystem-based management, should be developed through the Arctic Council and used to complement the existing system of national and international governance mechanisms in the Arctic.
  5. Arctic governments should call for a special diplomatic conference in 2012, which includes participation by Indigenous Peoples and the eight Arctic nations, to establish a timetable for designing and implementing the preceding recommendations.
  6. All Arctic residents, including Indigenous Peoples, should play a pivotal role in planning the future of the Arctic and should share in the benefits of its resources as well as responsibility for its sustainable future.
  7. An Arctic science program should be implemented and integrated as part of the Arctic Marine Conservation and Sustainable Development Plan using an open-source information network.
  8. The Commission urges that the Arctic Council be reinforced as an effective, multilateral organization for the region and that it be given the resources and a revised architecture to ensure that the planning, participation, management and accountability recommendations put forward in this report are implemented.

About the Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues.

The Institute is based in Washington, DC, Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore and has an international network of partners. Further information.

Author: "sigmar@unak.is (Sigmar Arnarsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week 2010"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Friday, 25 Feb 2011 16:57
the_aspen_instituteRecognizing that the circumpolar Arctic region is experiencing significant ecological change due to global climate change, the Aspen Institute convened a civil society Dialogue and Commission to consider the implications of this impending transformation for the region's inhabitants and resources. The Aspen Institute released a final report and recommendations of Commission, entitled "The Shared Future: A Report of the Aspen Institute Commission on Arctic Climate Change."

The report features a very special foreword by President Jimmy Carter and presents the Commission's recommendations, foremost of which is that governance in the Arctic marine environment should be sustained and strengthened by a new conservation and sustainable development plan based on using an ecosystem-based management approach.

The Commission believes marine spatial planning provides a workable method to begin implementation of ecosystem-based management. Governance of the Arctic can and should be strengthened through an inclusive and cooperative international approach that allows greater participation in information gathering and sharing, and decision-making, leading to better information policy choices and outcomes.
The report is issued under the auspices of the Aspen Institute and the members of the Aspen Institute Commission on Arctic Climate Change, with support from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

Aspen Climate Change Report

Aspen Climate Change Report - Handout

arctic_oceanThe report presents the Commission's recommendations, foremost of which is that governance in the Arctic marine environment, which is determined by domestic and international laws and agreements, including the Law of the Sea, should be sustained and strengthen by a new conservation and sustainable development plan using an ecosystem-based management approach. The Commission believes marine spatial planning provides a workable method or approach to begin implementation of ecosystem-based management. According to the Commission, Arctic governance can and should be strengthened through an inclusive and cooperative international approach that allows greater participation in information gathering and sharing, and decision-making, leading to better informed policy choices and outcomes.

gullThe Commission recognizes that this Aspen Dialogue has been a preliminary step toward a fuller discussion on the future of the Arctic marine environment. Its major discovery is that a more modern, holistic and integrating international plan is needed to sustainably steward and govern the Arctic marine environment. The Commission has made significant progress in understanding the needs and requirements for action to sustain the Arctic and realizes that in order to implement its recommendations the entire Arctic community must be engaged.

The Aspen Commission on Arctic Climate Change has identified the following initial Principles of Arctic Governance as forming the guiding foundation of its recommendations and the standards by which future governance and sustainable management of human activities in the Arctic marine environment should be measured. Specifically, governance and sustainable management of human activities in the Arctic marine environment should seek to:

  1. Optimize ecosystem resilience, integrity and productivity by maintaining food-web (trophic) structure and protecting and restoring biodiversity and available habitat.
  2. Maintain the full suite of Arctic ecosystem services to support human well-being on a continuing basis.
  3. Promote investment in scientific research and related infrastructure necessary to ensure sustainable development and environmental protection.
  4. Avoid exacerbating changes that may be difficult or impossible to reverse in temperature, sea-ice extent, pH, and other key physical, chemical and biological ecosystem parameters.
  5. Assess, monitor and manage multiple human activities using an integrated, adaptive, ecosystem-based management system that takes into account risks and cumulative and interacting effects.
  6. Apply ecosystem-based management processes based on science and traditional knowledge, particularly to new and expanded human activities which are subject to prior evaluation and analysis. Prudent measures to reduce or eliminate impacts are to be taken when there are reasonable grounds for concern that such activities, directly or indirectly, will bring about hazards to human health, harm living resources and ecosystems, damage amenities or interfere with other legitimate uses.
  7. Fully respect the rights, including human rights, of Arctic residents and Arctic indigenous peoples, and maximize participation in and transparency of decision-making for all interested stakeholders.
  8. Link global policy discussions to the need to conserve and manage Arctic ecosystems and dependent communities.
  9. Promote cooperation among Arctic states to arrive at appropriate standards for managing activities in the Arctic to meet the special conditions of the Arctic region, while promoting sustainable development.
  10. Inform, in a timely manner, national and international decision-makers as well as the public of the consequences of climate change impacts in the Arctic, and needed actions required to meet the above noted principles.

shippingThe Aspen Institute Commission on Arctic Climate Change believes that existing frameworks can be enhanced and new frameworks can be established to improve governance and strengthen resilience in the Arctic marine environment in response to climate change impacts and the need for adaptation readiness. The Commission developed its recommendations against the backdrop of at least three observable strategies currently discussed internationally to strengthen the Arctic Council; expand and strengthen the existing system of bilateral and multilateral agreements; and/or establish a new Framework Convention for Arctic governance.

Aspen Commission Recommendations

  1. Arctic governments should take immediate steps to begin developing an Arctic Marine Conservation and Sustainable Development Plan by 2012, in collaboration with civil society and other interested parties.
  2. Arctic governments, independently and collectively, should implement an integrated ecosystem-based management approach in the Arctic marine environment utilizing appropriate marine spatial planning, as well as regulatory rules and standards that address the special conditions of the Arctic region.
  3. In addition to an Arctic marine conservation and sustainable development plan, a number of specific actions should be initiated through the development of agreements or standards that foster consistent implementation among and across Arctic governments.
  4. An open-source Arctic network, focused on ecosystem-based management, should be developed through the Arctic Council and used to complement the existing system of national and international governance mechanisms in the Arctic.
  5. Arctic governments should call for a special diplomatic conference in 2012, which includes participation by Indigenous Peoples and the eight Arctic nations, to establish a timetable for designing and implementing the preceding recommendations.
  6. All Arctic residents, including Indigenous Peoples, should play a pivotal role in planning the future of the Arctic and should share in the benefits of its resources as well as responsibility for its sustainable future.
  7. An Arctic science program should be implemented and integrated as part of the Arctic Marine Conservation and Sustainable Development Plan using an open-source information network.
  8. The Commission urges that the Arctic Council be reinforced as an effective, multilateral organization for the region and that it be given the resources and a revised architecture to ensure that the planning, participation, management and accountability recommendations put forward in this report are implemented.

About the Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues.

The Institute is based in Washington, DC, Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore and has an international network of partners. Further information.

Author: "sigmar@unak.is (Sigmar Arnarsson)" Tags: "Feature of the week 2011"
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