SESSION: Climate Change as a Challenge for Organizations in the Arctic
Moderator: Małgorzata (Gosia) Śmieszek, Arctic Governance Research Group, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland
Climate change has a wide range of impacts on the Arctic, its natural environment and the societies of the region. Different organizations are attempting to find answers to the challenges posed by climate change. These challenges can be very direct, such as the loss of sea ice or permafrost or increased flooding risks, but also indirect. The latter effects can be natural, such as the pole-ward movement of fish stocks, which has been beneficial for the fishing industry in Iceland, or changes in vegetation, which has negative impacts on the accessibility of lichen by reindeer. To a significant degree, though, indirect effects of climate change are human-made, such as growing demands on land-use, for example due to an increasing importance of extractive industries, infrastructure construction or the current tourism boom in the Arctic.
While climate change makes life in the Arctic difficult for many, especially for indigenous communities which are closely related to nature, it also leads to an increasing human footprint in some parts of the Arctic and therefore also to increasing pressures on an already fragile natural environment. An effective, holistic, response to climate change will need to take all of these different effects into account. Ranging from the local to the global level, organizations in the Arctic are looking at ways to respond to these challenges. The term “organization” is to be understood in a wide sense and may include, e.g., national, international and sub-national, including regional and local, organizations and authorities, ranging from local communities and municipalities and non-governmental organizations to global inter-governmental organizations. The phrase “in the Arctic” refers to the Arctic connection of organizations, which do not necessarily have to self-define as ‘Arctic’. This is to reflect the reality that, while for most Arctic states as well as for the European Union, the Arctic only makes up a part of their territory and is usually home only to a small portion of the overall population, the decisions made by such entities matter a great deal for the people who live in the Arctic.
This session will look at different approaches to climate change and its effects, which have been chosen by different organizations in the Arctic. Presentations suggested for this session are expected come from a range of disciplines and in addition to purely academic approaches, could also include practical and local perspectives. It is the aim of the session to raise awareness of different problems faced by diverse actors and organizations in the Arctic and, ideally, to enable the participants to identify synergies for their own fields of work.