Reply To: Seminar reflections – Governance of the Arctic 30/3

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Sanna Karlsson # Posted on December 3, 2015 at 12:21

I will dive into a few topics covered by the ”Arctic Resilience Interim Report 2013” and ”The Arctic Environment – From Low To High Politics” and will elaborate on some questions concerning these.

From ”Arctic Environment – From Low to High Politics”:
In 2007 the sea-ice reach a minimum like never before. This called for great attention from observers. The reason is combined climate change and globalization, which has lead to a call for a stronger Arctic political regime. I would like to stop at that information. Surely, this can not be the first time that a minimum of the sea-ice, alarming in relation to earlier observations, have been observed. The text explains that one prominent reason is economic development, which relates to exploitation of natural resources, transport and tourism. The question becomes, why is it that economy seems to drive people to use nature as one pleases? To me this seems to be the case. In my opinion, economy should instead be subordinated nature, for our very lives depend upon nature. If this could sink in among economy regimes, I believe we could make progress and hopefully reverse the climate change we see escalating.

From the ”Arctic Resilience Interim Report 2013”:
Indigenous people have a capacity to view the environment different from traditional Western science. I understand it as if they see nature almost as an integrated part of us, as a whole, and not in isolation as do Western science. They also tend to have a spiritual understanding of nature. Indigenous people, although very different from Western scientists, have valuable information passed on from generations orally on how to take care of nature. This information is important in building resilient cities and is included in the Arctic Council assessment processes. I belive this is a good thing to do. From what I understand this has only been included in recent years. Whatever the time when it was included, I see this as very important since I can imagine that the Western science do not have all the answers when it comes to this topic of resilience.

The author goes into various pilot case studies. I will look at two of these. Firstly, they discuss strategies to enhance the resilience of Sámi reindeer husbandry to rapid changes in the Arctic. The study is on the Sámi reindeer herding community in Finnmark, Norway. Since the 1600s many governmental changes have occured where for example migration routes. Some of these changes has led to a decreasing usage of traditional knowledge of Sámi herding, leading to a more instable resilience. Climate change has also caused a blockage of migration where the snow is either too much or there is ice underneath the snow. This can lead to starvation. The conditions are serious and the solution for a better resilience is to integrate traditional knowledge into formal governance systems and teach and involve the younger generation in traditional knowledge, according to the authors.
What caught my attention concerning this issue is that the changes from the 1600s have affected the herding community on so many levels. What one can learn from this is to respect the natural borders, migration routes etcetra which have been shaped for ages, from generation to generation. Perhaps there are few of these left in the world, this would be interesting to know. However, the modern world has in the cases of the Sámi reindeer husbandry realized they have to rethink and make a differences as to include more traditional knowledge in the husbandry. This is a good thing, yet I wonder how come this has not occured earlier? Maybe the negative consequences have not been large enough. I believe though, that these changes can be positive for other communities as well to adopt.

A second pilot study includes food security in the Arctic.
”Food security exist ’when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life’.”
Food and water security is of concern when things like water- and food borne diseases, high cost for a ”healthy food basket” and other factors affect the security. Another is climate change, which can make it difficult to hunt marine mammals due to thinning of ice sea (difficult access to hunting grounds). There are also contaminants in the Arctic biota which bioaccummulate in food. The issues are many.
What societies do in a resilience framework is that they can for example share available food and also that they know alternative ways of getting the food and water that they need. To build in resilience in political decisions concerning food security is one of the authors´ suggestion. I truly think that resilience in this context is of high importance. I find it hard in what other way the Arctic can reach food security effectively. But it all requires that the facts of resilience concerning food- and water security become a reality. I believe the difficult part will be to actually implement the knowledge of resilience fully, since it needs to influence politics to a high degree and perhaps not all in power will agree on the solutions and thereby not all of the changes will come to pass. However to contiually strive thereafter is of course what is needed in order to see a further implementation of the resilience.