Cold weather, hot topics / Columns / The Foreigner

Cold weather, hot topics. Last month, I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at the Jokkmokk Winter Conference just above the Arctic Circle in temperatures that ranged from positively icy to heated. Jokkmokk, Sweden, sits just above the Arctic Circle, a three-hour drive from the coast, surrounded by forests and lakes. A beautiful and inspiring middle-of-nowhere, right at the time when the famous winter market starts up. Snug inside the conference room insulated from the Arctic winter that reached a balmy -15 degrees Celsius on some days, we enjoyed fascinating discussions about sustainability in the Arctic. The conference title was “Transition from Knowing to Implementing: How to cope with (climate) change?” We know so much about successfully coping with change, how can we do better at using that knowledge?

jokkmokkwinterconference, arcticsustainability



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Cold weather, hot topics

Published on Friday, 16th March, 2012 at 12:42 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

Last month, I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at the Jokkmokk Winter Conference just above the Arctic Circle in temperatures that ranged from positively icy to heated.

Jokkmokk, Arctic Circle, Sweden
Winter Conference participants pose on the Arctic Circle, just south of Jokkmokk.Jokkmokk, Arctic Circle, Sweden
Photo: Ilan Kelman


Jokkmokk, Sweden, sits just above the Arctic Circle, a three-hour drive from the coast, surrounded by forests and lakes. A beautiful and inspiring middle-of-nowhere, right at the time when the famous winter market starts up.

Snug inside the conference room insulated from the Arctic winter that reached a balmy -15 degrees Celsius on some days, we enjoyed fascinating discussions about sustainability in the Arctic. The conference title was “Transition from Knowing to Implementing: How to cope with (climate) change?” We know so much about successfully coping with change, how can we do better at using that knowledge?

Jokkmokk Winter Conference topics covered sustainable energy, Sámi governance, the nearby Laponia World Heritage Site, and climate change. A panel and round tables with diplomats from the American, Canadian, and Russian embassies led to some harsh questions about mineral and oil extraction in the Arctic. In break-out groups, we conducted a risk assessment exercise to consider how different Arctic players could and should be dealing with social and environmental changes.

Local politicians discussed their sustainability initiatives and interests, including sustainability for Arctic transportation, energy, and heritage. We engaged in lively debates regarding nuclear energy's impact on the Arctic, the level of mining that would be appropriate, and resolving conflicts with those pursuing traditional livelihoods such as reindeer herding and sealing. All sessions were interspersed with scrumptious meals from local cooking.

My talk, “Connecting research and practice when dealing with climate change”, focused on youth choosing their own livelihoods in the Arctic. The key message is that social and environmental changes are inevitable, with climate change being just one factor amongst many that must be addressed. Nevertheless, Arctic life and livelihoods can and should still be attractive and fulfilling, controlled by the people who have long-made the Arctic their home.

With that amount of intelligence, wisdom, and commitment in one room, perhaps there is hope for a sustainable Arctic and a sustainable planet, or, more to the point, a sustainable humanity.

Dr. Ilan Kelman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO).



Published on Friday, 16th March, 2012 at 12:42 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

This post has the following tags: jokkmokkwinterconference, arcticsustainability.





  
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