EU-PolarNet Blog Posts

8th February 2016

Arctic Vision: EU-PolarNet at the Arctic Frontiers

A blog post by Nicole Biebow and Kristina Bär

EU-PolarNet’s project manager, Nicole Biebow, joined the panel for this year’s Arctic Frontiers breakout session on ’Arctic Visions’. Asked to share a European research view, she kicked off her presentation with an insight to the European Commission’s four key considerations for Arctic research. These being:

  • increasing predictive capabilities through improving the quality, the frequency and the geographic coverage of sustained observations;

  • facilitating open science, meaning open access to research infrastructure, to data and to scientific results;

  • establishing a true and open international cooperation;

  • involving indigenous people, local communities, and the relevant stakeholders in a sustainable development agenda.

These considerations, she stated, have led to three calls dedicated solely to Arctic research. EU-PolarNet was thereby involved in shaping those calls and will also support them in identifying polar topics for the work programme 2018 -2020.

The second focus of her talk, Nicole put on what might be one of the project’s largest challenges and yet the one that might result in the biggest output: the implementation of a sustained and on-going dialogue with all relevant polar stakeholders. By looking at a word cloud created from an EU-PolarNet document on stakeholder engagement, she illustrated that most interaction will involve Arctic stakeholders –the most prominent actors standing out from the cloud being indigenous people and interest groups. The graph further highlighted two key points essential to a sustained dialogue: communication and understanding. This dialogue, she continued, is momentarily carefully prepared by mapping potential stakeholders.

To watch the entire Arctic Vision session, please visit: https://mediasite.uit.no/Mediasite/Play/c5369ba84fbf409abb1f11da86d31bf91d

 

6th November 2015

EU-PolarNet at the Arctic Circle

Session: "What can Arctic stakeholders and researchers learn from each other?" Organized by EU-PolarNet and European Polar Board

A blog post by Nicole Biebow and Renuka Badhe

EU-PolarNet and the European Polar Board (EPB) hosted a breakout session at this years’ Arctic Circle Assembly, which took place October 16th – 18th in Reykjavik, Iceland. The annual Arctic Circle Assembly has become the largest international gathering on the Arctic and is attended by more than 1500 participants from close to 50 countries.

The EU-PolarNet / EPB session brought together people both from Arctic research projects and polar organisations, which exemplified the sharing of knowledge and a strong engagement with society. It was very well attended with standing room only.

The session was divided into two parts – the first giving room for four introductory presentations, of which one was about the relevance of the Arctic for European society and the planned investments of the European Commission on Arctic Research within Horizon 2020 (see video A. Tilche). Another speaker, Adam Stepien from the Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, impressively showed the challenges and risks, disappointments and success stories from the stakeholder consultations he was involved in during the EU Arctic Information Centre preparatory project. His presentation was very well received and formed the basis of the second part of the session –the panel discussion.

The panel discussion was moderated by the EPB executive secretary Renuka Badhe with panellists representing the following projects /organisations (see picture):

  • Karin Lochte (AWI, EU-PolarNet)
  • Jeremy Wilkinson (BAS, ICE-ARC)
  • Yves Frenot (IPEV, EU-PolarNet)
  • Kirsi Latola (UArctic, EU-PolarNet)
  • Volker Rachold (IASC/ICARPIII)

The panellists had a lively discussion with the audience about the problems faced in, and their solutions for, identifying stakeholders and their experience in working with them. For those who could not be present at the panel discussion, there was a chance to put questions to the panellists via social media. There was great engagement from the audience, both in person and via Twitter, with questions coming in thick and fast! The panellists reflected on the processes used for identification of stakeholders within their organisations and projects. The discussion also focussed on the importance of using multiple channels of communication, as appropriate for various stakeholders to maximise interaction. In summary, the main message underlined by the panellists was to have a sustained and open dialogue between both researchers and stakeholders throughout the process.

 

Andrea Tilche's speech at the Arctic Circle 2015 session „What Can Arctic Stakeholders and Researchers Learn from Each Other?". Andrea Tilche is the Head of the Climate Action and Earth Observation Unit, Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission.

10th July 2015

How can Arctic people adapt to the climate change?

A blog post by Kirsi Latola (UOULU), Work Package 4 Task 4.2 lead

From the 7th to 10th July 2015 over 2000 scientists gathered in Paris, France, to talk about our common future under the climate change. I was one of the few Arctic scientists at the conference as the participants came from all over the world – most of them from southern regions. Under the auspices of EU-PolarNet we arranged two parallel sessions, one run by Denis-Didier Rousseau on Artic Climate Systems, and one on Adapting to Arctic Climate Change convened by Emilie Gauthier (University of Franche Comté) and myself.

In our session on Adapting to Arctic Climate Change adaptation was discussed from the perspective of the people living in the Arctic, particularly indigenous people. What clearly came out was that climate change as such is not generally seen a big threat. Depending on the region, climate change can be seen either as a benefit (easier for reindeer to dig up for lichens for example) or a challenge (coastal erosion in Northern Canada).

What should also be remembered is that the Arctic is a diverse place. There is not one Arctic but many ‘Arctics’, as someone put it. In Fennoskandia and Russia, on one hand, the land use pressures decreasing the traditional reindeer pasturelands are amongst the biggest challenges. Further pressures and threats are mining, wind power, oil and gas exploitation and related infrastructures. In the longer run the effects of climate change will of course gain influence in these regions, too, but until now indigenous people have adapted to climate change in many different ways.

On the other hand, we heard an example from North America where the national legislation, for example in hunting, has prevented people to adapt. Due to climate change the migration routes, timing and species composition of birds and other animals have changed and thus altered the hunting season and manners. The regional legislation, however, is not responding to that and thus preventing people to adapt and to change their hunting behavior.

The big question thus is: How to get public administrations and policy makers to understand local people? Capacity building would be a solution to this – we need to train the young people in the Arctic: We need to teach them how to speak to scientist and industry, to work with them and also bring industries and people together in a two-way dialogue, where each one understands and respects each other.

It is important to understand that adaptation takes place at the local level. As Anders Oskal, Director at International Centre on Reindeer Husbandry, Kautokeino, Norway, said in his keynote speak: “We need active local societies, we need an active youth. It is not enough to send our youth to universities, if they don’t come back to the Arctic!”

 

27th April 2015

Welcome EU-PolarNet!

A blog post by Andrea Tilche, Head of the Climate Action and Earth Observation Unit, Directorate General for Research and Innovation, European Commission.

The European Commission welcomes this new coordination action that brings together polar scientific communities and other stakeholders. It creates a new "home" where science and innovation on polar issues can be discussed for the benefit of our planet and our societies.

The European Commission attributes great importance to Polar Regions for a variety of reasons.

First of all, they are the most sensitive to climate change and their feedback may have tremendous impact upon life on Earth. Europe as a whole is particularly concerned about the future of the Arctic and the Antarctic as these two regions are key drivers of the climate system, regulate ocean circulation and sea-level.  Moreover, the Polar Regions still hold many unknowns for science and maintain the memory of the recent past, and their exploration is of great importance to mankind.

The rapid changes now affecting Polar Regions have already resulted in significant consequences for the weather and climate elsewhere, including Europe.  Those environmental changed being observed, particularly as the result of Arctic changes, are a clear indication of the threats to European environments, society and economy in the future.

Changes in the Arctic bring with them environmental and societal challenges but also economic opportunities for local communities, for Arctic countries, for Europe and the world.  Science is a vital tool in establishing what is driving this rapid change.  Science is also necessary to make our predictive models more realistic by identifying and reducing the many sources of uncertainty that can degrade reliable predictions.

Research is also to be considered as an element both for and of diplomacy, which can lead to further international cooperation, and this could also prove beneficial to science.  The Arctic, in particular, has a strategic role in the EU foreign policy.  As the region changes, not only risks, but also opportunities arise.  The economic opportunities opening up in the Arctic need to be approached in a sustainable way, through science-informed decision-making.

Horizon 2020 (the framework programme for research and innovation of the European Union for the years 2014-2020) is a powerful, timely and effective mechanism for Europe to address research and innovation on polar issues.

We consider EU-PolarNet as an essential partner for helping the European Commission in the definition and deployment of its scientific policies, in particular supporting Horizon 2020 in its programming cycles and in amplifying the impact of its research and innovation activities.

Coordinated activities supported by EU-PolarNet could lead to:

  • better coordination among actions, observing systems, infrastructures and initiatives, to amplify synergies and to avoid un-necessary duplication of efforts;
  • better information on the availability of research assets and skills;
  • better exchange of data and information
  • strong involvement of stakeholders, beyond the scientific communities;
  • broader partnership with international partners, beyond Horizon 2020 Member States, also for supporting the Transatlantic Ocean (and Arctic) Research Alliance with the US and Canada, and its future extension to the South.

We look forward to a very fruitful partnership with EU-PolarNet!