Organizers of the Rovaniemi Arctic Spirit conference would like to invite papers and presentations covering one of the following themes:
- Climate change as a challenge for organizations in the Arctic
- Climate change and the rights of present and future generations
- Live, work or leave? Youth-wellbeing and the viability of Arctic towns and cities
- Polar regional change: physical, social-ecological and economic feedbacks
- Arctic entwinements of energy, climate and politics
Thematic sessions with oral presentations (ca. 15 minutes) will be organized on the second day of the conference, November 13 in Arktikum house.
Please send your abstract (max. 300 words) with your name, title, affiliation and contact information before August 23, 2019 by email to rovaniemi.arcticspirit(at)ulapland.fi
Remember to specify to which session/theme you are sending your abstract.
Organizers will inform on the acceptance of the papers by August 31.
Registration, travel and accommodation
All presenters should register to the event via conference website. Detailed information will be provided after acceptance of the abstract. All presenters are exempted from the registration fee. Please note that all conference participants should cover their own travel and accommodation costs. Accommodation can be booked from conference hotels when filling in the registration form.
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.
SESSION: Climate Change and the Rights of Present and Future Generations
Moderator: Leena Heinämäki, the Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law (NIEM), Arctic Centre, University of Lapland
Climate change has become a serious human rights issue, as indicated by the thousands of litigation cases related to its impact that are taking place around the globe. The impacts of climate change have been particularly visible and discussed in the Arctic regions, and Arctic indigenous peoples have been active in seeking restitution for human rights violations. More than a decade ago, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, an Inuk woman and Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council filed a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights claiming the United States’ contributions to climate change were violating the human rights of Inuit in the Arctic. In recent years, the connection between climate change and human rights has become widely recognized and studied by different UN human rights bodies, all invoking states to take urgent actions to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and safeguard people’s rights at stake. However, climate change is a global phenomenon that will have long-lasting and interlinked implications for communities and individuals across the world. Particular attention has been given to the vulnerable situation of Indigenous peoples, who rely on nature-based activities for their cultural heritage and livelihoods. Given the cumulative impacts of climate change, it is an issue for both present and future generations. In light of this, youth across the globe have become active agents in combatting climate change. Within the field of environmental human rights, the procedural rights of citizens to participate in environmental decision-making, as well as rights to environmental information and effective legal remedies are regarded as pivotal rights to support the protection of substantive human rights. Climate change has also challenged mainstream legal doctrines and raised critical questions, for instance, related to legal subjectivity as well as the development and consideration of the rights of nature.
Considering the impacts and implications of climate change for the present and future generations, this panel invites papers and presentations discussing the interlinkages between human rights and climate change, including issues of agency. In particular, the organizing committee will give special consideration to indigenous peoples and youth submitting papers for presentation.
SESSION: Live, Work or Leave? Youth-wellbeing and the viability of Arctic towns and cities
Moderators: Florian Stammler and Lukas Allemann, Arctic Anthropology Research Group, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland
The future and sustainability of Arctic city-communities to a great extent depends on how the young generation sees prospects for their own personal development there. Across the circumpolar world, many such towns currently suffer a youth outmigration tendency. If young people do not see their wellbeing and prospects there, they will leave and it will be impossible for such cities to maintain a socially balanced cohesive society. The youth in Arctic towns in the 21st century is caught between two general trends: on the one hand, the Arctic region is urbanising: more than 2/3 of the Arctic human population is urban. On the other hand, we observe a trend of outmigration from the Arctic to southern metropolitan areas.
Rather than seeing youth decision making exclusively as 'coping strategies', this session goes further to study more positive perspectives, namely the pursuit of happiness and opportunities for youth (age 15 to 30) in Arctic industrial cities. We invite papers that analyse the attractiveness of Arctic industrial towns in Finland and Russia as places to live and work, and which contribute to understanding the determinants of youth wellbeing in Arctic urban environments. How do authorities, civil society and industrial companies provide conditions for youth wellbeing, and do their ideas overlap with the hopes and ambitions of the young people themselves? We also invite paper candidates to link their study to broader understandings of viable Arctic communities and well-being in general. As a term, well-being has been so far predominantly employed by scientists working with measureable indicators. With this session we aim to establish well-being as an accepted and important category also in qualitative inquiry. In accordance with our multidisciplinary approach, the panel invites scholars from a wide array of disciplines working with notions of youth well-being (or ill-being) to present their work. Allowing enough space for discussions, we aim to move togethe closer towards a renewed, holistic theory of well-being, and towards a practice-oriented toolkit for assessing how Arctic towns can create conditions for improved youth wellbeing and thus secure their own future.
SESSION: Polar regional change: physical, social-ecological and economic feedbacks
Moderator: Bruce Forbes, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland
Although sparsely populated, the Arctic and Antarctic play outsized roles in terms of mediating climate feedbacks which strongly affect not only the polar regions, but also the rest of Planet Earth. As both Arctic and non-Arctic states face important decisions concerning whether and what mitigation strategies to deploy in the next few years and decades, we plan in this session to review what are the stakes and costs involved, ranging from “business as usual”, i.e. doing nothing, to strong action. What are currently deemed to be relatively radical measures, such as geoengineering, are increasingly demonstrated to be economically feasible when weighed against the astronomical global economic costs and human consequences of inaction.
In terms of concrete examples, Arctic feedbacks accelerate climate change through carbon releases from thawing permafrost and higher solar absorption from reductions in the surface albedo, following loss of sea ice and land snow. At the same time, the ancient and massive ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are expected to contribute more to sea-level rise this century than any other source. Without coastal protection, the global cost of damages could reach US$50 trillion a year. At this price, geo-engineering is competitive. China’s north-south water diversion to bring water to the water-stressed north and alleviate flooding in the south has cost about $80 billion, and is comparable to envisaged geoengineering projects. Regarding the costs of Greenhouse Gas Releases in relation to permafrost thaw, the mean discounted economic effects of climate change are: +4.0% ($24.8 trillion) under the 1.5 °C scenario, +5.5% ($33.8 trillion) under the 2°C scenario, and +4.8% ($66.9 trillion) under mitigation levels consistent with the current national pledges.
Part of the challenge facing societies and governments willing to address polar regional change and feedbacks is the scope and direction of public discourse. In Lapland and Northern Russia, for example, the national dialogue concerning management of semi-domesticated reindeer populations of over 2 million animals is locked in an outdated-debate about kg of meat produced per annum in relation to kg of lichens and green biomass (i.e. total available fodder, or “carrying capacity”) per square km/annum. We need to broaden the discussion and engage a much more informed citizenry on climate related issues, that goes far beyond the current level of dialogue. This session will feature experts on polar regional changes and feedbacks and encourage a frank and open atmosphere for scoping the ways forward given what we already know.
SESSION: Arctic entwinements of energy, climate and politics
Moderators: Marjo Lindroth and Hannah Strauss-Mazzullo, Northern Political Economy Research Group, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland
The energy question is at the heart of all climate change debate, it transcends national borders, impacts all generations and calls for the involvement of all scientific disciplines. Energy engenders continuous conflict over access, rights and responsibilities between states, regions and citizens. It is at the core of questions of national and regional development in the Arctic and the future of local and indigenous communities. While governmental policies should seek to reduce emissions, they are entwined with various dependencies, (un)availability of resources, security questions, (in)compatibilities with local lives and livelihoods and general contestations over how to mitigate climate change. As climate change is making the Arctic more accessible for the exploration and exploitation of energy resources, it is pertinent to ask how different actors and stakeholders – both inside and outside the region – are envisioning the Arctic in terms of its energy future. We invite papers from all disciplinary backgrounds addressing these entwinements, contestations and potential solutions.