The Permanent Participants

The political actors that most eagerly picked up ACIA's message were no doubt the Permanent Participants. As described in Chapter 5 of this dissertation, they also played a critical role in publicizing the image of the Arctic's extreme sensitivity to climate change and the implications that this has for its inhabitants. How can this be understood in relation to salience, legitimacy, and credibility? It appears that the combination of the ACIA chair having an active interest in having indigenous participation in the knowledge production and norms within the Arctic Council helped create a bridge that in turn made the assessment salient, legitimate, and credible to the Permanent Participants. It was salient because it addressed issues of concern to indigenous people and became legitimate when indigenous peoples were included in the process. The inclusion of indigenous observations and the treatment of those observations together with scientific observation probably played a role in increasing the assessment's credibility for this audience. In addition, the assessment also made room for the discourse of indigenous people having a particular relationship with the environment giving them the role of spokespeople for nature. Though such a notion of a special relationship between indigenous peoples and the environment has been criticized, it has been used extensively by Arctic indigenous peoples in their political struggles to influence their futures locally and increasingly also in the region as a whole.21

In relation to the Permanent Participants, the assessment appears to have been very successful in reaching the policy level, as seen by the chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference becoming a public spokesperson for the assessment results. Their participation in the knowledge production process and the explicit merger of scientific and traditional knowledge in the assessment may also have strengthened their credibility in the eyes of media and the wider policy audience. Indigenous peoples and science were speaking with the same voice. This, in turn, created a base from which they could become powerful actors in the policy process, in spite of their weaker formal position in relation to the state actors. The initial boundary organization in this case was probably the Assessment Steering Committee. Of the people interviewed in this case study, the indigenous peoples representatives generally did not emphasize a separation of science and policy the way scientists and policy representative of states often did.

19 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Policy Document. Issued by the Fourth Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting., 7.

20 Report of the Arctic Council Focal Point (FP) for ACIA Follow-up Activities Presented to the Senior Arctic Officials (SAOs) of the Arctic Council 24 October 2006, Salekhard, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Russian Federation.

21 Shepard Krech III, The Ecological Indian. Myth and History (New York: Norton, 1999); Nuttall, "Indigenous Peoples, Self-Determination and the Arctic Environment."

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