Actors and actor networks

The most prominent actor networks in the ACIA are the scientific disciplinary networks from which the lead authors identified contributing and consulting authors. In some cases, those networks were pan-Arctic or global before the assessment, while in other cases, the assessment process itself served as a network-building or network strengthening activity. In the latter case, the ACIA becomes a potential driver for the structure of future knowledge production. The following quote from a lead author interview illustrates ACIA's role for network building.

In my mind one of the single most valuable aspects of participating in the ACIA process was the comprehensive international collaborative focus and approach, so that all of us put together, all these stories, so that we could begin to ... rather than just isolated pictures ... synthesize a picture of change ... and we now come in contact with one another to attempt an international tree-line monitoring effort and organization.117

In such cases, the influence of the existing scientific networks was moderated by the Arctic-wide scale and the Arctic Council setting of the assessment. Several lead authors have also pointed to the ACIA as a venue for bringing different scientific networks together that were previously separate. The goals of the chapters made it necessary to work across national and also narrow disciplinary boundaries. Several lead authors mentioned the cross-disciplinary nature of the assessment as a key learning experience, especially during the regular meetings of lead authors in the Assessment Steering Committee. It may be that although an assessment is dependent on existing scientific disciplinary networks, its tasks can help widen these networks and foster new personal linkages among researchers creating a wider understanding of issues.

117 Interview Glenn Juday, November 11, 2004.

States are not prominent actors in the ACIA scientific and overview reports but are nevertheless present. This is especially true where states have reporting requirements under some international treaty or convention and where the data are thus organized along national boundaries. This, for example, includes data on fisheries, biodiversity, and forestry. The structuring of data collection is thus steered by the fact that international governance arrangements view states as the relevant actors. In the chapters that deal with activities that have national economic significance, i.e. fisheries, and forestry, states may also have had more of an actor role. For example, one of the lead authors for the fisheries chapter suggested that it was important for Iceland to have a leading role in one chapter and that this chapter was the natural choice.118 For the chapter on forests, the lead author interview suggests that countries where forestry is economically important pushed the authors to also look at forestry aspects.119

The indigenous peoples' organizations were important in pushing for the inclusion of indigenous peoples' knowledge. Particularly active was the Inuit Circumpolar Conference. In this example the relationship between actors and regimes becomes clear. A regime may provide the structures that create space for an actor (e.g. the position of Permanent Participants), but for anything to happen, there also have to be individuals or organizations who use that space to push their agendas. Chapter 17. Climate Change in the Perspective of Multiple Stressors and Resilience, was not driven by the Permanent Participants. According to ACIA's chair, the initial attempt to bring in indigenous perspectives to it failed in spite of the structural framework of the Arctic Council and the presence of networks that included indigenous peoples' organizations. To him, the breakthrough came in a meeting with reindeer herders in connection with an Arctic Council meeting in northern Finland, where he could "engage the people, more at sectorial level where you can talk about the interaction between what they do and the environment and how climate affects it."120 This was a different network than the organizations with a formal position as Permanent Participants in the Arctic Council. In fact, when discussing a draft, the Permanent Participants questioned the inclusion of this chapter based on the lack of involvement of local people in one of the case studies. Part of the solution to this conflict was to involve a lead author from one of the chapters with strong indigenous participation, so that he could help bridge the gap between the indigenous peoples and academia.121 The chapter was later revised to try to take the indigenous peoples' concerns into account.

In science and technology studies and especially in actor-network theory, there is an emphasis also on physical objects as actors (or actants), be they aspects of the natural environment or technology. Technology has been responsible for many observations in areas that are sparsely populated and it is no coincidence that technological developments have played an important part in providing new data for the ACIA. For example, the role of satellite technology is apparent in all chapters that discuss sea ice extent. The original launching of this technology in the 1970s was politically driven ("satellites for

118 Interview Hjalmar Vilhjalmsson, November 11, 2004.

119 Interview Glenn Juday, November 11, 2004.

120 Interview Robert Corell, November 21, 2004.

121 Observation notes. London meeting of the Assessment Integratin Team and the Assessment Steering Group, October 2003. Interview 18.

peace"). As discussed previously, limits in computer modeling technology can be seen as a context that hindered assessment of impacts on a sub-regional level. In discussing biodiversity, gene technology has revolutionized the discussion of microbial biodiversity. However, in the Arctic the actual knowledge about Arctic microbial biodiversity is more connected to research from the International Biological Programme that was done before the advancements in gene technology. These three cases illustrate the concept of actor or actant as one of relationships. The technologies do not have intentions but their use creates new relationships between the observed nature and various social actors. When connected with practices of individual scientists or networks of scientists, they give the biogeophysical environment a role in relation to society that it would not have had without technology.

This is also where I see it as necessary to complement the actor-network analysis with one that also pays attention to the role of political structures. Appropriate questions include: What political dynamics has driven the development of a particular technology and what has allowed or limited its use? For example, would satellite technology be used in science to the extent that it is used today had the Arctic still been divided by Cold-War conflicts? To what extent has internationalist science politics after World War II favored the development of global climate models at the expense of methods that take their starting point in the regional, sub-regional, or local? To what extent will the current Arctic regime favor development and use of different technologies that can bring other aspects of Arctic change to the fore?

There is also a need to analyze actor networks at different levels, from every-day scientific practices to the coordination of research efforts by international organizations, as well as the vertical interactions between different levels. The empirical material in this dissertation does not allow connection to the micro-level. However it does illustrate that it is fruitful to include an analysis of actor networks that focus on not only on the creation of new relationships between nature and society in the micro-practices of science, but also on the role of political structures such as nation states, international regimes, and the relations among them.

A theoretical framework that includes non-human actors also entails asking how the physical nature of the Arctic has shaped the framing of climate change in the ACIA. There is no question that there are physical features of the Arctic environment that are discussed more frequently in the ACIA than in the IPCC reports as a whole. They include the prominent role of snow and ice, as well as the importance of low temperatures and short growing seasons in relation to plants and animals. The high variability that is highlighted in several ACIA chapters could also be placed here, and maybe also the relative sparseness of human population compared to other parts of the globe. However, attention to key physical features of the Arctic environment, such as ice and snow, is not unique to the ACIA. In fact, this emphasis has long been part of the scientific discourse of climate science because of their role for the global climate system. An illustration of this is that this emphasis is prominent in the polar chapter of IPCC's Working Group II report. In fact, based on how often words related to the physical environment are used; the conclusion is that physical aspects of the Arctic environment have not been as dominating in the ACIA as in previous global climate assessments of climate change in polar regions. What emerges, instead, is that Arctic environment speaks not only through scientific instruments that measure temperature, precipitation, and ice extent, but also through people living in the Arctic, especially indigenous people.

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