Arctic Resource Development and Climate Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation

Mining, energy and infrastructure sectors in the circum-Arctic are subject to extreme challenges and unlimited opportunities.  This region has great natural resource potential with energy, mining and infrastructure development being the largest private sector contributors to economies. Impacts, adaptations and mitigation needs to be discussed in the energy, mining and infrastructure sector by owners, operators, businesses, governments,  utilities, academics, northern communities, and non-government organizations to assess climate change impacts and vulnerabilities.  This discussion will contribute to  risk assessments, adaptation and mitigation opportunities,  the development of best practices and resiliency among all these sectors. 

Research for this project is currently focusing on impacts and adaptation for energy, mining and infrastructure in Canada's North, which is defined as above the limit of discontinuous permafrost A brief initial summary of Climate Impacts and Adaptation for Energy, Mining and Infrastructure in Canada’s North has been undertaken

An abstract entitled Case Studies and Best Practices for Sustainability and Climate Adaptation in North America and the Nordic Region, including Greenland, has been accepted for a paper and presentation in the Sustainable Mining in the Arctic conference in Sanaartornermik Ilinniarfik, Sisimiut, Greenland from April 9 to 11, 2013.

A more extensive cooperative circum-Arctic research programme is currently underway for Canada, USA and the Nordic region, including Denmark and Greenland, and is described below.

Past research has considered how climate may impact energy development and marine shipping in the circum-Arctic region, including the paper, Hydrocarbon Development and Maritime Shipping for the Circumpolar Arctic in the Context of the Arctic Council and Climate Change, written for Sustainable Development Law & Policy Volume 8 Issue 3 Spring 2008: Environmental Change in Polar Regions.

Another aspect of the research considers the integration of energy, water and heat systems and renewable energy development for the circumpolar Arctic and polar regions, as this integration assists with adapting and mitigation climate change.  The integration of energy and water systems, and the use of renewable energy can also have multiple benefits for Canadian northern energy, mining and infrastructure sector and northern communities that are located off the electricity grid. 

An abstract entitled Integrating Renewable Energy, Heat, and Water Quality and Quantity for Sustainable Energy and Water Projects for the Canadian Arctic and Remote Regions of Canada was accepted for the QUEST International Conference: Smart Energy Communities in Cold Climates. The paper "Integrating Renewable Energy, Heat, and Water Quality and Quantity in Sustainable Energy and Water Projects for the Circum-Arctic and Northern and Remote Regions of Canada" was written for that conference. Two oral presentations were subsequently made in November 2012 at the QUEST International Conference: “Integrating Renewable Energy, Heat, and Water Quality and Quantity for Sustainable Energy and Water Projects for the Canadian Arctic and Remote Regions of Canada” and "Northern Roundtable : Challenges and Opportunities in Northern and Remote Communities"

Parallel research for the Nordic region has been published as a chapter of the Danish book :  Bæredygtig energi i Norden, Kapitel 7.4 i Håndbog om Grøn Lov og Praksis, October 2012, Forlaget Andersen. A near final English translation of the Sustainable Energy Development chapter of the publication is also provided.  

Wildlife, Environment, Renewable  Resource Development and Management, and Role of Traditional and Local Knowledge

The circumpolar Arctic has many unique and successful approaches to wildlife, environment, and renewable and non-renewable resource management that would benefit from being fully understood within the Arctic and external to this region. The circumpolar Arctic is also experiencing significant management opportunities and challenges given:  the reduction of seasonal, annual and multi-year sea ice; greater accessibility of Arctic coasts and seas to marine shipping and transportation; global awareness of the richness of the living and non-living resources of the Arctic; and need to understand and adapt to complex  regional and local climate changes.

This area of the research seeks to understand and respond to opportunities and challenges for Arctic wildlife, environment, and renewable and non-renewable resource management through comparitive analysis and recommendations. One area of focus is the management of migratory species, whether polar bears, marine mammals, seabirds or fish stocks, including illegal unreported and unregulated fisheries in the circumpolar Arctic.

Traditional knowledge is important and relevant for the co-management and utilization of reindeer, caribou, beluga whales and polar bears by indigenous peoples in the circumpolar Arctic region. The conference abstract and paper illustrate the ongoing use and importance of traditional knowledge in the management and sustainable use of these species. The joint paper by Magdalena AK Muir and Lloyd N Binder entitled "Traditional knowledge and northern wildlife management",  was prepared for "Collecting and Safeguarding Oral Traditions" conference that was organized as a satellite meeting of the General Conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions held August 16-19, 1999, in Khon Kaen, Thailand.

This research  focuses on the relationship between biodiversity and climate change, impacts on Arctic indigenous  peoples and local communities, and the incorporation of traditional knowledge. Traditional knowledge is multi-faceted  and very often traditional methods of harvesting and managing wildlife have been sustainable. Investigator Muir contributed as an author on this issue to Chapter 10:  Principles of Conserving the Arctic’s Biodiversity, Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Scientific Report.

The research also considers how traditional knowledge can assist wildlife management in adapting to climate change. This was discussed in the presentation, Role of Traditional Knowledge in Arctic Climate Adaptation, including the Beaufort Sea Project for Climate Change : Impact and Adaptation to Climate Change for Fish and Marine Mammals in the Canadian Beaufort Sea, which occurred at the 5th Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands: Ensuring Survival, Preserving Life, and Improving Governance, May 4, 2010 at UNESCO in Paris

Local  and Traditional knowledge, and Engagement of Local Communities and Peoples in the Circum-Arctic Region 

Local and traditional knowledge are important in the circumpolar Arctic and globally, as  peoples, communities and governments manage wildlife and renewable and non-renewable resources, develop local and national economies,and consider how to respond to environmental issues, including adapting to climate change. This area of the research seeks to understand the role and use of traditional and local knowledge, and the engagement of local communities and peoples in the circumpolar Arctic and globally for management of resources. It also seeks to understand linkages between local communities and peoples of the Arctic, Small Island Developing States, and developed and developing countries.

The circumpolar Arctic and islands of the world  are linked through Many Strong Voices, an alliance of Indigenous Peoples organisations, non governmental organisations, researchers, policymakers, community organisations and others in over 20 Arctic and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The goal of Many Strong Voices is to promote the well-being, security, and sustainability of coastal communities in the Arctic and SIDS by bringing  regions together to take action on climate change mitigation and adaptation, and to tell their stories to the world.

The Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands promotes the implementation of international agreements related to oceans, coasts, and SIDS by assessing progress made, and identifying  opportunities and challenges for achieving sustainable development. 

The Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) covers all aspects of biological diversity:  the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. The Secretariat of the CBD supports the inclusion and participation of  SIDS and developing countries in emerging issues, such as expert discussions on the impact of ocean acidification on aquatic, coastal and marine biodiversity and ecosystems, and the services these ecosystems provide.

Developing Cooperative Circum-Arctic Research Efforts and Programmes for Canada, USA and the Nordic Region

It is important for the Arctic Resource Management and Climate Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation project to develop cooperative research efforts and common and complimentary research programmes in Canada, the United States, and the Nordic region, including Denmark and Greenland. Investigator Muir is leading collaborative research efforts and programme for this project between Aarhus University, John Hopkins University and the Universities of Calgary and Alaska Fairbanks. 

Investigator Muir is also coordinating collaboration in this project with the Nicholas School of Environment, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.  She will  be initiating contacts and collaboration with stakeholders, other academic institutions, First Nation and Inuit organizations, and local, regional, national and international governments, agencies and programmes for resource development and management throughout the circum-Arctic region. She will  also collaborate on climate impacts, adaptation and mitigation with industry and industry associations involved in resources development throughout the circum-Arctic who are engaged in the development of renewable and non-renewable resources, including those involved in energy (including hydrocarbons and renewable energy), fishing, harvesting, infrastructure, mining, shipping, and tourism.

These collaborations will include monitoring and engagement with circum-Arctic  projects, programmes and research occurring under the Arctic Council and its Working Groups: the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, the Protection of Arctic Marine Environment, and the Sustainable Development Working Group.

Lead Investigator :

Magdalena A.K. Muir, B.A., J.D., LL.M., Research Associate, Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary; Associate Professor, Aarhus School of Business and Social Sciences and Nordic Centre of Excellence for Nordic Strategic Adaptation Research, Aarhus University, Herning, Denmark; and Adjunct Professor, Masters of Science: Energy Policy and Climate, John Hopkins University, Washington DC.