ID:22 Arctic Sustainability Revisited: Developments, Transitions and Perspectives for the Next Decade

23 February 2023 | 08:30 - 10:00 (GMT+1) 
23 February 2023 | 10:30 - 12:30 (GMT+1) 

Open Session - HYBRID


Room: Hörsaal 2


Session Conveners Andrey Petrov (University of Northern Iowa, United States); Tatiana Degai (University of Victoria, Canada)


Session Abstract

This session will gather a diverse group of scholars and Indigenous knowledge holders to discuss the current developments and knowledge gaps in Arctic sustainability research. The volume and scope of sustainability research in the Arctic has been rapidly increasing across various domains, including social, economic, environmental, cultural and community sustainability. A number of projects and networks, such as Arctic-FROST, ASUS, and ReSDA, were created to instigate and support this growth. Both theoretical and practice-oriented studies at different scales added new conceptualizations, implementations and visons of sustainability whether globally-connected (such as SDGs) or place-based. Most importantly, the Indigenous perspectives on sustainability have increasingly been moving to the center of the Arctic sustainability science with knowledge co-production becoming a core methodology of sustainability research. In this context, there is an urgent need to revisit, revise and rethink the foundations of Arctic sustainability research and consider future direction to invest collective efforts and resources. This session will be an opening for such a conversation and commence the work towards Arctic sustainability science contributions to the ICARP IV process.



Session 1 (08:30 - 10:00 GMT+1):

  • unfold_moreTourism governance in Svalbard and Greenland – a comparative approach towards sustainable Arctic tourism

    Tone Rusdal1; Anna Sveinsdottir2; Julia Olsen2; Carina Ren3
    1Western Norway Research Institute; 2Nordland Research Institute; 3Aalborg University


    With increasing tourism in the Arctic there is an emerging need to understand how the tourism sector is governed at destinations, particularly as it relates to sustainability goals. By examining the tourism governance systems of Greenland and Svalbard we aim to understand whether and how experiences from these Arctic destinations inform tourism governance across the Arctic. Drawing on document analysis and qualitative interviews, we wish to identify similarities and differences between governance and managerial practices, and sustainability issues. Svalbard’s history with tourism dates back to the 1800s. In the 1970s the Norwegian government aimed to have tourism development of limited scope and strong environmental regulations. Today the vision is to develop Svalbard as one of the world’s best-managed wilderness areas with a strong focus on sustainability. With the out-phasing of Svalbard’s coal production, the archipelago’s economy has become heavily reliant on tourism for local employment and income generation. In Greenland, having an economy relying on fisheries, tourism has only emerged as a political priority in the last decade, and in its short time changed its orientation from growth to sustainability. Studying two destinations with different tourism histories and demographic compositions, Greenland being home to indigenous Inuit population, governed by self-rule under the Danish Kingdom, and the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard being a temporary home for a multitude of nations, we try to gain an understanding of how sustainability is operationalized in the governance and managerial practices to balance economic, social-cultural and environmental aspects of the tourism development at these two destinations.

  • unfold_moreEconomic versus Indigenous sustainability: examples of communities of Tuvans-Todzhu and Dukha

    Mariia Kuklina


    Traditionally, sustainable development is based on three pillars: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. However, when implementing territorial or sectoral strategies, contradictions often arise due to the diverse interests of the participants in the processes. Especially these conflicts are evident in remote lands of Indigenous communities leading a predominantly traditional way of life. This presentation aims to identify general patterns and particular regional features that create conflicts and opportunities for development at the intersection of tourism, transport infrastructure and interests of Indigenous peoples. Based on analysis of official documents and fieldwork with Tuvans-Todzhu in the Tyva Republic in Russia and Dukha the Khovsgol Aimag in Mongolia in 2021-2022, it demonstrates challenges of these territories with high tourist and recreational potential that regional and federal authorities consider realizing for improvement of quality of life of the local population. Sharp increase in the number of tourists, as well as transport development of the territory without taking into account the opinion of the local population, can lead to serious contradictions and conflicts, contribute to the degradation and destruction of traditional cultural landscapes. Thus, complex multi-aspect and multi-vector relationships and mutual influences arise in the system "local population - transport - tourism". These connections have both common fundamental patterns and their own regional and local features. All of them must be understood and considered when planning the sustainable development of the territory.

  • unfold_moreArctic conceptions of sustainability and the international negotiation around deep-sea mining

    Pauline Pic1; Frédéric Lasserre1; Mathieu Landriault2
    1Université Laval; 2ENAP


    In 2019, Nautilus Mineral hoped to become world’s first company to mine the deep seabed in the waters off Papua New Guinea. A few months later, the company filed for bankruptcy after the government of Papua New Guinea decided on a moratorium on deep-sea mining, mainly out of environmental concerns. Yet, the government did not entirely close the door to future mining activities: the idea behind the moratorium was to ask for more guarantees regarding sustainability. In the last few years, several studies have indeed raised concerns over the consequences of deep-sea mining on marine biodiversity and the environment in general - and how complex it may be to anticipate them. As any unprecedented human activity, deep-sea mining comes with a set of new challenges that need to be considered and anticipated, especially now as sovereign states are negotiating to establish rules guiding deep-sea mining in international waters. These rules are likely to have repercussions for Arctic resources present in the Central Arctic Ocean, including in continental shelves. The international negotiations are pitting different perspectives on sustainable development and sustainability against one another. This communication analyses if the discourses around sustainability at these negotiations mark a break with previous sustainability discourses. Then, we focus on Arctic states to inquire if they share similar narratives and conceptions of sustainability in these negotiations. These positions will be tied in with the positions of non-Arctic states to better understand how Arctic conceptions of deep-sea mining may fit with global developments.

  • unfold_moreAnti-racist Women Community-led Sustainabilities: Developing A Policy Guide from Indigenous Perspectives

    Jebunnessa Chapola
    University of Regina


    Northern Indigenous women’s communities in Canada have been characterized as increasingly “vulnerable” in the context of SDGs research, as direct victims of climate change facing everyday livelihood and health challenges. There is a significant lack of research and analysis concerning the gendered dimensions of climate change impacts, vulnerabilities, and solutions. This study aims to: 1) create practices for establishing anti-racist women community-led sustainabilities based on the principles of equity, fair and inclusive practices, fostering community resiliencies in response to SDGs; 2) address risks specific to communities’ vulnerabilities, particularly focusing on the Indigenous community; and 3) provide concrete recommendations to policy-makers for creating socially inclusive anti-racist SDGs policies and practices at local, provincial, and federal levels.

  • unfold_moreArctic Sustainability Research: Past, Present and Future Revisited

    Andrey N. Petrov
    University of Northern Iowa


    This paper will present an overview of the recent developments in sustainability research in the Arctic and reflect on the current state of Arctic sustainability science as an emerging transdisciplinary, convergent area of study. In particular, the paper will analyze topical, conceptual, methodological and practice evolution of the field, identify existing trends and knowledge gaps and discuss potential future directions. It will outline important contributions made in the last ten years and present initial ideas for the ICARP IV and IPY 5 contributions of sustainability science and scholars.

Session 2 (10:30 - 12:00 GMT+1):

  • unfold_moreRethinking Indigenous Sustainabilities and Climate Justice in the Arctic

    Ranjan Datta
    Mount Royal University


    The study is responding to rethinking Indigenous sustainability(ies) and climate justice in the Canadian Arctic. We (as an interdisciplinary research team of Indigenous Elders, knowledge-keepers, Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars) explore how recent climate change (and interpretation) is challenging Indigenous traditional sustainabilities; and what is at stake in processes such as consultation, impact assessment, regulatory hearings, approvals (including negotiation of benefits), monitoring? and what reformed processes can build Indigenous community capacity and supports robust decisions? The study helped us to rethink the future meanings of consultations and impact assessment guidelines in sustainable development and climate change planning initiatives. We focused on the Indigenous community-led understanding of Indigenous philosophies of sustainabilities and climate change and the connectivity between climate change and sustainability related to the interactions and inter-dependencies with health security, Indigenous environmental and cultural value protection. This decolonial research helps us to take responsibility for making effective and trustful engagement dialogues to build capacity among Indigenous Elders, Knowledge-keepers, and scholars.

  • unfold_moreMonitoring of the indigenous traditional lands in the Russian legal practice

    Nikita Kaplin


    Legal procedures for management of forest and land plots in the process of interaction of indigenous communities with industrial companies are prerequisites for the consolidation of indigenous rights to land and resources as declared by the Russian Constitution. However, the community ownership on these legal objects is not specified by the federal legislation. As a result, inconsistency of the Land Code with the norms of the Civil Code leads to political conflicts. In the Evenkia Municipal District of the Krasnoyarsk region 19 communities of the indigenous peoples have legalized forest plots as the territories for their traditional economic activity (hunting, fishing and reindeer herding). Rights of land use are stated in the long-term licenses for expropriating objects of wildlife, hunting agreements and leases for the implementation of commercial hunting (legalized hunting covers 46% of the total district area, with indigenous communities land plots comprising 13%). In the same territory over 100 industrial companies are acting with resulting multiple land conflicts as precedents to the court litigation during last 20 years. In order to get proper compensation for the damage from the extracting activities the system of regular monitoring is organized on the community level. Periodic (2-3 times per year) inspections with the visual observations (photo and video fixation with the simultaneous global positioning) of the environmental change and damage to the community land are provided. This monitoring could be significantly improved if it is linked to the scientific data, including satellite observations and relevant instrumental techniques.

  • unfold_moreLong-term sustainability monitoring in the Arctic Socio-Ecological Territorial Systems: ways forward

    Tatiana Vlasova


    Arctic nowadays is facing rapid social, ecological and geopolitical changes. Many of these changes turned to be rather uncertain and unpredictable. That is why long-term monitoring of Arctic Social-Ecological Territorial Systems (SETSs) sustainability focusing our attention on possibilities of transformation and pro-active adaptation seems to be very valuable international activity. Several Principles for developing a set of sustainability variables and indicators for SETSs sustainability monitoring are underlined. Among them are: 1. Indicators should be oriented to monitoring simultaneously both problems and solutions of sustainability challenges, track the trends of solutions implementation and the elaboration of scenarios. II. Human and Social Capital and Capacities (HSCC) development, as a basic concern for all sustainability indicators identification and monitoring. III. The process of sustainability indicators development should be based upon negotiations (co-production) between all concerned diverse agents (stakeholders), scientists, Indigenous people and decision makers. IV. Indicators should tightly interconnect different scales and establish views and values on this interconnectedness (from global to local and vice a versa ). Further development of the long-term Arctic sustainability monitoring is envisioned in the continuation of the work of the Russian Foundation of Basic Research theme within the ASUS Belmont Forum and Future Earth project in tiet connection with the IGU-CHAR Commission activity and Arctic-FROST.

  • unfold_moreGravel grabs: The rocky foundations of Indigenous geologic power in the Arctic

    Mia Bennett
    University of Washington


    Whether sustainable or not, infrastructure development cannot take place without gravel, which is scarce in the North American Arctic. Conditioning where development can occur, the commodity has become the target of Indigenous actors seeking to secure land and resource bases and their material futures, too. In Alaska, decades of litigation pitting Indigenous surface against subsurface corporate landholders has debated gravel’s legal location. In Canada, Inuvialuit land claims negotiators successfully secured access to granular resources. These legal processes have resulted in certain Indigenous actors’ accumulation of geologic power. Rooted in the subterranean, this power enables them to transform the surface of the Earth in ways that may render it less sustainability. Connecting the literatures on land grabs and political geology and drawing on fieldwork and a review of official documents and reports, this article critiques how gravel has become an Arctic natural resource lucrative to local communities rather than global markets and a key source of Indigenous political and economic power, too. It also seeks to broaden ongoing discussions on Arctic sustainability, which are often focused on energy commodities such as oil and gas and the green transition, and bring them "down to Earth" by grounding them in a material fundamental to development: gravel.

  • unfold_moreFire and Water: Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and Climate Challenges Activism in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), and the State

    Vera Solovyeva1; Lilia Vinokurova; Viktoria Filippova
    1George Mason University


    Recently, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) has become the center of worldwide attention due to large-scale fires that engulfed the tundra in 2020 and the taiga in 2021. Unprecedented forest fires caused enormous economic and environmental damage and left an indisputable mark on the republic’s society, which rallied in the face of fire danger. Along with fires, the Indigenous people of the North also must cope with and adapt to other natural disasters, including floods. As natural disasters become more frequent and extensive, humanity faces acute questions concerning successful adaptation to climate change's negative impacts.Studying the experience of the Indigenous population can help provide answers. They are the first to bear the brunt of climate change, given their traditional economic lifestyles, and they are the first to solve the problems of adaptation to changing conditions.The article discusses preventive measures and ways of adaptation of the Indigenous peoples of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) to forest fires and floods. Environmental lessons learned from past disasters are analyzed, to prevent their recurrence.

  • unfold_moreCustomary food sharing as a means for Arctic sustainability: Cases from the Inupiat in Alaska and the Inuit in Canada

    Nobuhiro Kishigami
    National Museum of Ethnology


    Under the influence of economic globalization and climate change over the last few centuries, the indigenous peoples of the Arctic regions of North America have established what is called “a mixed economic system.” One characteristic of this economic system is to share their products from hunting and fishing activities among their family, kinsmen, and/or community members, which is made possible by purchasing and using snow mobiles, canoes with outboard engines, rifles, bullets, gas, oil, etc. with their cash income. By demonstrating the customary food sharing practices of the Alaskan Inupiat and Canadian Inuit at as their economic, social, and cultural means to sustain their livelihoods, as well as their relationships with other community members, animals and the natural environment, I argue that the establishment of a new food sharing system based on collective hunting and fishing is a key institutional means to adapt to the ever-changing economic and environmental conditions in the Arctic.

  • unfold_moreAlaska Native Sustainable Subsistence Knowledge for Cultural Continuity and Children and Family Wellbeing: Lessons for State and Federal Management Practices

    Heather Sauyaq Jean Gordon
    Child Trends


    Indigenous practices of nurturing and stewarding the land are based on generations of Indigenous Knowledge. A 2021 report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found that, worldwide, seascapes and lands owned and nurtured by Indigenous Peoples experience less species and ecosystems decline than other waters and lands. It is vital to respect and include Indigenous Knowledge and engage Indigenous Peoples in environmental governance, conservation, restoration, and sustainable use practices. This place-based (Alaska) practice-oriented (ethnographic futures research) study (co-production model) addresses a current gap in sustainability research, the lack of inclusion of Alaska Native sustainable land nurturing and stewardship practices in current state and federal management practices, as well as addressing how Indigenous Knowledge and perspectives can be incorporated in sustainable management. I discuss: 1) the colonization of Alaska; 2) current land ownership/ management practices; 3) perspectives by the Ninilchik Village Tribe on sustainable subsistence management for the wellbeing of their community and cultural continuity; 4) how Indigenous Knowledge can inform sustainable management; and 5) what policies need to change for this to be possible. Bridging the research to policy gap is vital in creating a space for the inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge in sustainable subsistence management. I will discuss Indian country land, the Federal Subsistence Board, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the Alaska National Lands Conservation Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

  • unfold_moreAdaptation of Indigenous Fisheries to Natural and Institutional Change in Kamchatka, Russia: Challenges and Opportunities

    Victoria Sharakhmatova1; Andrey N. Petrov1; Tatiana Degai2; Masha Monakhova3
    1University of Northern Iowa; 2University of Victoria; 3Arizona State University


    Traditional fisheries play in important role in Kamchatka, Russia. The Indigenous Peoples of Kamchatka have been living by sustaining fishing practices and fish resources for millennia. Salmon is the most prominent type of fish prevalent in the peninsula, although other species are also being used. Since the times of the Soviet period the commercial fishing was introduced and now dominates the region. However, traditional, small-river fishing operations still persist.

    A recent legal reforms alongside with the growing interest by commercial companies in cash-making salmon stocks pose an existential challenge to the community fishing. In addition, rapid climate change, most prominently the shifts in hydrological regime and river ice conditions, exacerbate the stress on traditional livelihoods. The study examines the experiences and adaptation practices of Indigenous fishing community of Kovran, the largest Itelmen village in Kamchatka. The village has been in the middle of post-Soviet regulation reforms, economic crisis and environment shifts, but demonstrated a resilience of Indigenous institutions and ways of living to compounded external stressors. Working with the community members we collectively examine the adaptation strategies of Itelmen fishermen in order to identify sources and challenges to community sustainability. In most Indigenous villages, the fishing obschini collectives is the only place to work and receive benefits. In many areas, these collectives have become the leading component of the local economic base. The creation of obschini is an indicator of growing economic self-reliance and self-organization of the Indigenous communities.