KNO7: Arctic biodiversity governance and Arctic Council biodiversity cooperation

Date: Friday October 12, 2018

Location: Tieva, Lappia Hall

Time: 8:30-10:00

The challenges facing Arctic biodiversity are interconnected, requiring comprehensive solutions and international cooperation. We have a unique and urgent opportunity in the Arctic to conserve large, undisturbed ecosystems and the species and cultures they support. Doing so will help protect the integrity of Arctic biodiversity and the sustainability of Arctic communities. The future of the Arctic and its biodiversity requires an active and decisive approach to conservation and sustainability. This session explores the concepts and frameworks of Arctic biodiversity governance, specifically highlighting presentations that discuss the role of the Arctic Council to support, enable and recognize partners and governance frameworks that act to conserve Arctic biodiversity.

Chair: Christian Prip, The Fridtjof Nansen Institute

Format: Series of presentations followed by discussion


  • Report from the High Level Expert Working Group Session: Thomas S. Axeworthy, Secretary General of the InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government 
  • The Arctic Council and biodiversity - need for a governance framework beyond monitoring and assessments? Christian Prip, The Fridtjof Nansen Institute pdf
  • Food sovereignty and self governance: Nicole Kanayurak, Inuit Circumpolar Council pdf
  • Importance of non-Arctic states in conserving Arctic biodiversity: a case study of Britain and Ireland: Matt Parsons, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (UK) pdf
  • Institutional Adaptation for an equitable role of Indigenous Knowledge in decision-making: Nicole Kanayurak, Inuit Circumpolar Council pdf
  • Korea's contribution to Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) and future plans: Sung-Ryong Kang, National Institute of Ecology pdf



Report from the High Level Expert Working Group Session

Thomas S. Axeworthy, InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government, InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government

The InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government's Expert Working Group on Issues of Cooperation and Development in the Arctic will provide a complimentary venue for putting the global spotlight on this critical region by providing recommendations for how to strengthen the region in terms of economic development; biodiversity; and strengthen the institutions of international governance in the region; while recognizing the unique contributions of Indigenous peoples in the region. The Arctic Expert Meeting is part of a series of preparatory meetings that focus on a specific theme related to one of the Council's priority areas, that draw on a panel of experts from around the world. The resulting Chairman's Report is tabled at the Annual Plenary Meeting of the membership of the Council, which is over 35 former heads of state and government.


The Arctic Council and biodiversity - need for a governance framework beyond monitoring and assessments?

Christian Prip, The Fridtjof Nansen Institute

Arctic biodiversity is of global concern, with both the Arctic and the broader international community having a mutual interest in cooperation to ensure its conservation and sustainable use. Biodiversity is one of the focal areas of cooperation under the The Arctic Council has adopted an ecosystem approach as a management framework for biodiversity, and the Arctic constitutes several ecosystems transcending borders. Threats to these ecosystems must be dealt with by all the states sharing them through cross-border responses. Scientific monitoring and assessments of Arctic biodiversity – the essential feature of Arctic biodiversity cooperation – have repeatedly shown that action on the ground is needed to reduce Arctic biodiversity loss. However, cooperation mechanisms to translate scientific findings into joint and unified action by the Arctic states are not in place. An obvious example is protected areas: How can the Arctic Council give effect to the comprehensive scientific framework set by PAME for a Pan-Arctic Network of Marine Protected Areas without a mechanism for formal designation of areas as protected and associated legally binding restrictions on human activities? To what extent does the Arctic Council provide the institutional, policy and regulatory means necessary to meet this challenge? Does it need further instruments and decision-making power to implement the ABA recommendations? These questions will be discussed in this presentation taking into account governance development in other thematic areas of the Arctic Council.


Food sovereignty and self governance

Carolina Behe, Inuit Circumpolar Council

Inuit food security is founded upon a holistic understanding of the Arctic – one in which Inuit are a part of the ecosystem and their physical, cultural, mental and spiritual health are profoundly related to the environment. In 2016, we completed the Alaska Inuit-led Food Security Project. A key project finding stressed the undeniable connection between food sovereignty and food security. “Food sovereignty” is the right of Inuit to define their own hunting, gathering, fishing, land and water policies; the right to define what is sustainably, socially, economically and culturally appropriate for the distribution of food and to maintain ecological health. Without food sovereignty, we cannot realize food security. One of the recommendations derived from the final Food Security report is to analyze management and co-management structures within Inuit Nunaat and to understand how those governing frameworks support or need to be modified to achieve Inuit food sovereignty. Due to the rapid and immense changes underway in the Arctic, there is a need to enhance Inuit governance structures to ensure direct involvement of Inuit and their rights and interests throughout their homelands. In response to these needs and recommendations, the Food Sovereignty and Self Governance project aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of existing and emerging frameworks supporting Inuit self-governance over marine food resources. The Project Team will conduct a legal analysis and work with Inuit who are directly engaged in the management and co-management of salmon and walrus in Alaska and char and beluga in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region to assess how Inuit self-governance supports food security and understand the social, political, and institutional parameters affecting Inuit self-governance, while examining how it may be possible to move toward food sovereignty. Through this presentation we hope to share and discuss the connection between food sovereignty and conservation.


Importance of non-Arctic states in conserving Arctic biodiversity: a case study of Britain and Ireland

Matt Parsons, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (UK); David Tierney, Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; Ireland; David Stroud, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, UK; Tim Dunn, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, UK

Success in conserving Arctic biodiversity depends upon actions by non-Arctic states as well as Arctic states. We identify migratory populations of bird species which breed in the Arctic but visit Britain and Ireland on migration and/or during the winter. There are well-known examples of bird taxa for which Britian and Ireland host the entire biogeographic population during the non-breeding season. However, here we attempt a more comprehensive assessment of the importance of Britain and Ireland for shared Arctic birds, including waterfowl, seabirds, shorebirds and passerines, and the proportion of the biogeographic populations that are contained within our protected sites network. Finally, we make a provisional assessment of the relative impact on selected Arctic bird populations of stressors, in particular climate change, and where – in the Arctic or on wintering/migration grounds – these are primarily occurring. We contrast the typically low densities of breeding birds in the Arctic, over extensive areas of habitat, with the higher concentrations (sometimes in very few sites) that tend to occur on wintering grounds. Policy implications for the, geographical scale, location and sectoral targeting of conservation action across flyways, including through multilateral environmental agreements, are discussed.


Institutional adaptation for an equitable role of Indigenous Knowledge in decision-making

Vernae Angnaboogok, Inuit Circumpolar Council; Carolina Behe, Inuit Circumpolar Council

Institutions operating through a top-down structure are impeding the ethical and meaningful engagement of Indigenous Knowledge (IK), leading to products lacking a holistic understanding of the Arctic, which further results in ill-informed decision making. With the drastic changes occurring today within the Arctic, now more than ever, there is a need for institutions to adapt in order to provide the best available knowledge and information for effective decision making. This approach requires the transformation from top-down structures rooted in Western frameworks and moving into equitable and meaningful engagement of IK. This adaptation requires bringing together IK and science to provide a holistic understanding of the Arctic. Many institutions, including the Arctic Council, speak of the importance of Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge and that Indigenous representation having a seat at the table. However, having a seat at the table does not translate to the ethical and meaningful engagement of IK or our communities. This presentation explores the need for institutional adaptation in order to support holistic research and decision making needed in the face of a rapidly changing Arctic – including moving toward the involvement of multiple knowledge systems within work conducted. Emphasis will be on the importance of building equity around the inclusion and utilization of IK alongside science and in providing direction for how to ethically and meaningfully engage our knowledge systems and communities in order to provides a holistic understanding of the Arctic.


Korea's contribution to Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) and future plans

Sung-Ryong Kang, National Institute of Ecology; Jihyun Yoon, National Institute of Ecology

Republic of Korea (ROK) has been actively involved in the Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) under CAFF. ROK’s National Institute of Ecology (NIE) has been conducting research to examine and accumulate data on the habitat carrying capacity of migratory shorebirds at their stopover areas in ROK, focusing on the East Asian-Australian Flyway, in collaboration with research institutions in Australia and the U.S., and the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) Secretariat. NIE experts have shared the research findings at AMBI implementation workshops and CAFF board meeting. As for the ABMI under CAFF, ROK’s NIE would continue its ongoing research collaboration in regards to the East Asian-Australasian Flyway with CAFF. In addition, discussions are under way between Korea and the EAAFP secretariat on possible cooperation to build the capacities of developing countries in the monitoring of migratory shorebirds to support AMBI.

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