Other governance arrangements and international collaborations

Several governance arrangements and international scientific collaborations are important in relation to specific assessment chapters. They include the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) for structuring fish stock data, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) for data on marine mammals, and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) for forestry data. In these cases, standardized reporting requirements and procedures for national data reporting create an easily accessible data base that may not have been otherwise available. The role of intergovernmental regimes becomes apparent both in that the data are often structured in relation to nation states and in norms for what countries are expected to report.

In relation to permafrost issues, the Global Climate Observing System plays a role in ensuring that observations become available. This program is sponsored by both scien

112 Chapter 18. Summary and Synthesis of the ACIA, 991.

113 ACIA, Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, 23.

114 Interview Erland Kallen, November 30, 2004.

tific organisations (International Permafrost Association and International Council for Science (ICSU) and UN organizations (WMO, International Oceanographic Commission, UNESCO, and UNEP). In relation to biodiversity, the UN Convention on Biodiversity is mentioned. It provides a definition of biodiversity and adds to the knowledge base in the form of a report on the interlinkages between biological diversity and climate change. In the context of biodiversity, the International Biosphere Program should also be mentioned. This large-scale effort appears to have had a key role for the knowledge base about microbial biodiversity. International regimes and collaborations thus appear to be important in strengthening research in certain areas. By contrast, subject matters that are not governed by any international collaboration often lack a strong comprehensive data base and have to rely more on individual scientific initiatives, local case studies or experiments, and national priorities. A typical example is Chapter 8. Freshwater Ecosystems and Fisheries and the same is true to some extent for Chapter 7. Arctic Tundra and Polar Desert Ecosystems when discussing ecosystem impacts. The following quote from a lead author interview illustrates the point:

We found that in a lot of cases, we could get information that maybe was case studies or whatever at someone's field location in Sweden or someone doing work in northern Canada, but the amount of medium or long-term data out there that is integrated with hydrology, biogeochemistry responses, ecological responses are extremely scattered and weak.115

The lack of synthesized circumpolar knowledge is apparent in several of the chapters concerned with impact on indigenous peoples. The international collaboration for knowledge production on indigenous peoples is recent and only beginning to emerge as a usable database for an assessment. In this area, the ACIA may, in fact, be playing a role in fostering Arctic-wide knowledge production as a complement to a previous focus on local case studies. This is especially true for Chapter 3. The Changing Arctic: Indigenous Perspectives, which tries to draw some Arctic wide-conclusions based on available local observations.

The role of specific governance arrangements should also be seen in light of the geopolitical structure of the Arctic region. The most obvious change relevant for the ACIA's knowledge base was the opening up of the Arctic from the East-West division during the Cold War. Before this, there was very limited circumpolar scientific activity in the Arctic region. The tundra experiment of the International Biosphere Program was an exception.116 In fact, the post-Cold War thaw was a driver and a prerequisite for today's Arctic Council cooperation, without which an assessment of impacts of climate change would not have been very likely. The thawing of Cold-War tensions also made new data available from the Arctic Ocean, which are part of the knowledge base for assessing changes in sea ice extent.

115 Interview Fred Wrona, November 11, 2004.

116 Heininen, "Circumpolar International Relations and Geopolitics."

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