Arctic is the key to manage climate change and the last energy frontier
The 9th edition of the Arctic Frontiers Conference took place from January 18-23, 2015, in Tromso, Norway, with more than 1.400 participants from 30 nations and 130 journalists, with the participation of HSH Prince Albert. The Arctic is the key to understanding and managing climate change as global warming is strongly tied to a shrinking ice over the Arctic ocean, plus its plentiful natural resources, if managed responsibly, are the last energy frontier. The conference’s objective is to contribute to and galvnize the climate negotiations in preparation for the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris in December 2015.
During the opening of the plenary session HSH Prince Albert underlined that the protection of the Arctic represents a world goal, considering its dominant role towards a healthy balance of the planet, primarily climate. Prince Albert is actively involved in Arctic topics and plays a vital role in addressing important issues, as he firmly believes in the importance of developing the High North in a sustainable way. To me that clearly means protection before exploitation. (Photo credit: HSH Prince Albert @Pernille Ingebrigtsen Arctic Frontiers 2015)
Linking climate, energy and the Arctic
Prince Albert who has a family tradition of Arctic exploration and is quite committed to Arctic protection was the guest of honor in a lively round table, joining Nina Jensen, CEO of WWF Norway, Line Miriam Sandberg, M. Jens Ulltveit-Moe, CEO of Umoe, Kjell Giaever, Director of Petroartictic, and Fran Ulmer, President of the American Commission of Arctic Research, to discuss the link between energy, climate and the Arctic.
He also met with Borge Brende, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway to talk about the next climate conference in Paris, the current negotiations concerning the status of High Seas (international waters) that are world’s public property, and prince the development of protected marine surfaces, in the Arctic in particular.
Events organized by partners of Prince Albert II Foundation
Side events were organized by the partners of the Prince Albert II Foundation: The Arctic University (UArctic), a network of universities, colleges and organizations dedicated to higher education and research in the Nordic countries, as well as the world association of Reindeer breeders that aids in the formation of youngsters on breeding techniques. The young UArctic Ambassadors benefited of interesting exchanges as well as the young breeders, activities supported by the Prince Albert II Foundation in the framework of Polar programs. Furthermore, the Sovereign made it a point to visit to the Polar History Museum in Tromso that retraces the Arctic discoveries where His great-great-grandfather, Prince Albert I of Monaco, actively participated.
EALLIN project – Preserving the indigenous people way to live
EALLIN means “life” in Sámi language and it is related to the word Ealát that means “good pasture conditions” and Eallu meaning “herd”. Many young reindeer herders who participated in the EALLIN project over the past 3 years were present for the launch of this project that was one of the main events attended by Prince Albert in Tromso. He had the chance to meet the Reindeer Herding Youth at a specially constructed “lavvu” (temporary dwelling).
Anders Oskal, a Sami who is the Director of the International Center for Reindeer Husbandry, represented the Arctic Circle, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization designed to increase participation in Arctic dialogue and strengthen the international focus on the future of the Arctic. He is the voice of the indigenous peoples in the area, and has travelled widely and visited reindeer communities all over the northern world.
Reindeer provide people with shelter, food, clothing and security, therefore they are at the core of the herding people’s universe, including their culture, language and their view of the world. Climate change will produce changing herding conditions for the coming generations. The goal of the Eallin project is to create awareness for the need for the rest of humankind to make efforts to preserving the world’s indigenous people and their genuine ways to live. This project puts in evidence that young herders have a lot to say in this matter to preserve their future and in doing that protect our planet.
“For us, the reindeer is everything. If we loose the reindeer we lose our language, our culture, our traditions and the knowledge to move into the future.” Eallin Jokkmokk 2013
Nina Jensen WWF-Norway – Most significant renewable resources are ice & snow
Nina Jensen took over as Secretary General of WWF-Norway on March, 1, 2012. She is a marine biologist with a degree from James Cook University in Australia and the Fisheries College of Tromsø. Nina began as a volunteer in the WWF in 2003 and got a permanent job as a counselor the same day she delivered her thesis in arctic marine biology in 2005. She has since worked as coordinator of WWF’s Clean Coast program, marine advisor, head of the marine program, leader for the conservation department and the technical manager. (Photo credit: Nina Jensen @Pernille Ingebrigtsen Arctic Frontiers 2015)
Jensen spoke at the conference about the future of energy in the Arctic. She contends that the Arctic’s most significant renewable resources are not oil and gas, they are ice and snow that reflect large amounts of the sun’s energy. Loosing that reflective shield the Arctic absorbs more solar energy, and a warming Arctic warms the entire planet causing avoidable damage, displacing people and throwing natural systems in disarray. We continually undervalue the critical role of the Arctic is shielding us from wrenching change. Instead, we ironically look to it as a source of the very hydrocarbons that are melting away the Arctic shield. (Photo credit: Svalbard, Norway @Brutus Ousting/WWF)
Samantha Smith leader of WWF – Calls for a green shift in the white north
Samantha Smith is a laywer by training and a passionate climate advocate by choice, and the leader of the WWF Global Climate and Energy Initiative. She is an environment and finance leader with expertise in markets, climate and energy policy, conservation, communications and strategy. She started working with WWF in 1996 as assistant director and policy officer on their International Arctic Program before becoming Director in 2002. In 2007 started working with Statoil and leader and project manager of the Kyoto Business Development before becoming a commercial manager (2010). In late 2010 she rejoined WWF.
Speaking at the conference in Tromsø, Samantha Smith questions the arguments from the Norwegian government that the high north of the Barents Sea is ice-free enough and ready for drilling. (Photo credit: Samantha Smith @Pernille Ingebrigtsen Arctic Frontiers 2015)
Low participation from Russia
The largest conference on the devastating consequences of a warming Arctic had a low participation from Russia, who is considered an important partner and is even involved in building the agenda, probably due to tense political climate between that country and the West. Out of the 36 Russian participants, out of a total of 1400, 10 were students and young researchers that were sponsored by the Norwegian organizers. There were some journalists from Murmansk, one official representative from the Foreign Ministry in Moscow and some locally based diplomats. Last Fall Arctic Frontiers signed a partnership deal with the Russian Geographical Society with the objective of bolstering friendship and foster mutual collaboration.
Artur Chilingarov, who until recently was President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to the Arctic, and who is known for planting the Russian flag on the sea bottom on the North Pole, in his speech at the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø said that cooperation with other Arctic states is an important part of Russia’s Arctic strategy.
Arctic Frontiers 2016 – Industry and Environment
The next Arctic Frontiers conference will take place from January 18-22, 2016 in Tromso under the theme “Industry and Environment”, that promises to be very interesting and crucial for the fate of the High North.
We need to save the Arctic not because of the polar bears, and not because it is the most beautiful place in the world, but because our very survival depends upon it. Lewis Gordon Pugh (British Environmentalist)
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