Nonindigenous people city dwellers and economic activities

As the report itself points out, there is very little assessment of the impact of climate change on the non-indigenous population of the Arctic. Specifically, in a listing of what needs to be improved in future assessments, the scientific report states that "A critical self-assessment of the ACIA shows achievements as well as deficiencies Impacts on people's lives covered indigenous communities but had little information concerning other arctic residents."52 This lack in the assessment can not be accounted for by the size of the non-indigenous population. Except for Greenland and parts of Canada, non-indigenous people are in majority and overall, non-indigenous people make up over 90 percent of the population.53 Rather, it appears to be the result of a conscious focusing on indigenous people in several of the ACIA chapters. In addition to the chapters that were designed to specifically address indigenous issues (Chapter 3. A Changing Arctic: Indigenous Perspectives and Chapter 12. Hunting, Herding, Fishing and Gathering: Indigenous Peoples and Renewable Resource Use in the Arctic), indigenous people receive special attention also in Chapter 11. Management and Conservation of Wildlife in a Changing Arctic Environment, Chapter 15. Human Health, and Chapter 17. Climate Change in the Context of Multiple Stressors and Resilience. The human health chapter discusses this choice in terms of focusing on the most vulnerable populations.

There is also relative silence about impacts on city dwellers. The only specific urban issue that is assessed is how thawing permafrost will affect buildings and other types of infrastructure. Again, the explanation is not apparent from demographics, as two thirds of the Arctic population live in settlements of over 5000 people. This population pattern varies across the Arctic, ranging from over 80 percent in Russia to only one third in Greenland.54

The impact on Arctic economies also receives relatively limited attention, and is only treated extensively in a chapter focusing of fisheries. As for non-indigenous people, this also comes out in the report's own discussion of the need for future assessments: "Impacts on the environment were covered very extensively, but the assessment has only qualitative information on economic impacts, and this must be a priority for future assessments."55 The chapter-specific qualitative analyses also show that coverage of economic issues is very patchy. The patterns cannot easily be understood based on indicators of economic importance (in this case as share of overall economic activity). While fisheries and hunting and herding are treated rather extensively, there is limited analysis of the impacts on large-scale hydrocarbon or mineral exploitation, which is very important economically in many parts of the Arctic.56 Impacts on the growing tourism industry are also not assessed in any detail. Although there may have been some conscious choices to leave oil and gas out of the ACIA assessment because of an upcoming

52 Chapter 18. Summary and Synthesis, 1018.

53 Dmitry Bogoyavlenskiy and Andy Siggner, "Arctic Demography," in Arctic Human Development Report, ed. AHDR, 27-41 (Akureyri: Stefansson Arctic Institute, 2004).

54 Bogoyavlenskiy and Siggner, "Arctic Demography."

55 Chapter 18. Summary and Synthesis, 1018.

56 Gérard Duhaime, "Economic Systems," in Arctic Human Development Report, ed. AHDR, 69-84 (Akureyri: Stefansson Arctic Institute, 2004).

AMAP assessment on these issues, it still does not account for lack of assessment of potential impacts on either mining and mineral processing or tourism.

What could account for this lack of presence in the assessment? The shortcoming could hardly be from lack of awareness. The need for a socioeconomic assessment was brought up repeatedly during the assessment process and was, for example, discussed in connection with the review of the scientific report.57 Several circumstances point instead to the lack of scientific networks in the social sciences. For example, chapters that had an emphasis on social, economic, or cultural issues also have at least one lead author with such a background. One of the most striking examples is a comparison between the chapter on fisheries versus the chapter on forests, agriculture and land management. In the fisheries chapter, one of the lead authors is an economist and it has, by far, the most frequent use of the word economic; it is used more than five times more often than in the forests chapter, where the framing is centered on biology rather than on the potential economic impact on forestry. It is indicative too that the chapter title refers to forests rather than forestry. Similarly, the word cultural is most frequently used in chapters with a lead author with a background in anthropology. This can be placed in contrast to Chapter 16. Infrastructure: Buildings, Support Systems and Industrial Facilities, which is mostly based on an engineering and natural science knowledge base in spite of the fact that it may have been the major venue available to do an assessment of economic impacts relating to issues that were not directly covered by specific chapters (e.g. Chapter 13. Fisheries and Aquaculture).

The lead author of the summary and synthesis chapter did attempt to include economic analysis from previous sub-regional climate impact assessment but was met with resistance from the Assessment Steering Committee and the Assessment Integration Team on the grounds that this information was not based on the previous chapters and therefore not credible enough scientifically.58 This might come from the fact that the ACIA, on the whole, had weak scientific networks in social science disciplines, which could have given an economic analysis a stronger scientific base and thus credibility.

With the exception of the extensive discussions about indigenous peoples, the lack of connections to scientific networks in the social sciences may even involve some resistance or reluctance from the social science community in connecting to an initial framing of the ACIA. Several comments in protocols from meetings of the Assessment Steering Committee suggest such division. The following protocol note paraphrases one of the lead authors and social scientists in the assessment: "To date, social scientists had given a disappointing response to his invitation to participate in ACIA. His impression is that social scientists do not yet feel welcome in ACIA."59 In the ensuing discussion there was an idea to form a social science consultative group to provide social science perspectives to all the chapters, but in the end no group was established and lead authors were urged to recruit more social scientists as contributing or consulting authors.

57 Observation notes from the meeting of the Assessment Steering Committee, October 2003; Summary Report on the Tenth Assessment Steering Committee (ASC) Meeting, 15-16 October 2003, London, U.K.

58 Observation notes. Meeting of the Assessment Integrations Team, Copenhagen March 2004. Interview Günther Weller, November 11, 2004.

59 Summary Report on the Seventh Assessment Steering Committee Meeting (ASC), 19-20 April 2001, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Regime structure may also have been at play in the relative silence surrounding social and economic impacts. Early in the ACIA process, the Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council several times introduced the need to cover socioeconomic impacts, but the Arctic Council working groups responsible for the assessment, AMAP and CAFF, lacked the mandate and expert networks to deal with these issues and no other working group pushing the issues was present in the ACIA process (see Chapter 5 of this dissertation for details). In relation to regime structure, the lack of influence of local decision makers and industry or sector interests in the Arctic Council may also have played a role. The ACIA, itself, explains the lack of discussion of economic impact by stating that "the necessary information is not presently available."60 There is also an emphasis on lack of quantitative data in this area, and part of the lack of socioeconomic assessment may thus also be a mirror of differences in natural science and social science research traditions and methods.

In contrast to the scientific report, the overview document brings several issues related to economic impacts to the fore. Examples of this come from the following statements from the key finding about how reduced sea ice is very likely to increase marine transport and access to resources: "Reduced sea ice is likely to allow increased offshore extraction of oil and gas, although increasing ice movement could hinder some operations," and "Sovereignty, security, and safety issues, as well as social, cultural, and environmental concerns are likely to arise as marine access increases."61 The knowledge base from which these statements are built come from the physical and engineering sciences and do not include any explicit economic, social or political science assessments. The weakness of the knowledge base can also be illustrated by the number of pages of supporting evidence. For this key finding and for another key finding focusing of societal impacts, there are only four pages, as compared to 12 each for the first three key findings and 20 for the fourth, which all discuss either observations of present climate change, future climate change, or impacts on the physical systems and on ecosystems. As a result, the overview document emphasizes socioeconomic impacts more than the science document. The driver for highlighting these issues may be that it shows the potential policy implications and thus should be of interest to the intended audience of the report. If so, the policy context acts as a counter driver to the strong natural science framing in the parts of the scientific reports that do not discuss indigenous peoples, but as one that is also limited by the weak social science knowledge base in the scientific report.

In summary, it appears that with the exception of the fisheries chapter, the role of social science in the ACIA was limited to the assessment of impacts on indigenous peoples. I have previously discussed the lack of scientific networks as a potential reason for this relative silence, and the lack of mandate in the AMAP and CAFF working groups. The latter explanation raises questions about regime structure that should be further explored. And in this, there may indeed lay some additional clues. In the Arctic Council, socioeconomic issues are mainly discussed in the Sustainable Development Working Group. It is the newest working group in the Council and has a history of controversies

60 ACIA, Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, iv.

61 ACIA, Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, 11.

surrounding what its focus should be.62 Many of its projects and reports have been much more limited in scope compared to e.g. AMAP's assessment. Until 2004 and the publication of the Arctic Human Development Report, there was no overall assessment of issues related to the economic, social, or cultural sides of sustainable development.63 One could thus argue that the social sciences have had a rather weak base in the Arctic Council, both institutionally and in relation to the knowledge base. This may have further accentuated the lack of scientific networks within the ACIA.

The relative silence about many socioeconomic issues thus may be caused by the interplay among the weak structures of the Arctic Council relating to the social sciences, and the fact that scientific knowledge production is separated into different scientific disciplines, each with their own separate networks. If there had been strength in one of these potential drivers, the outcome for socioeconomic issues in the ACIA may have been different. One could make the comparison with climate science, where the Arctic Council previous to the ACIA did not have a very strong engagement or knowledge base. However in this case, the weakness of the previous engagement was well compensated for by other strong networks pushing the issues and the global climate regime providing norms about their high priority. One could argue that the lack of coverage was the result of the relevant research fields lagging behind climate science that focuses of physical and biological aspects. The question is, can such a lag also explain the difference between how the ACIA treats socioeconomic impacts on the indigenous and non-indigenous populations in the Arctic, and how it can highlight socioeconomic impact on fisheries but not on other economic activities. A conclusive answer would require a concerted assessment of socioeconomic impacts of climate impact to then compare to the ACIA.

A third potential explanation for the low coverage of socioeconomic issues, possibly acting in combination with the lack of scientific networks and a less developed research field, is that the ACIA was initially planned when there was still a discussion whether anthropogenic climate change was real. Part of the priorities may therefore have been set by a strong wish to use the Arctic as a showcase for highlighting that climate change was happening here and now rather than actually assessing impacts.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment