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  • Writer's pictureConstance Lefebvre

Arctic Futures Symposium : 2022 Edition

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

Our world’s northernmost regions are home to impressive wildlife, numerous natural resources, and many rich and vibrant communities. Yet, under climate change, the Arctic region is facing unprecedented challenges that threaten biodiversity and the livelihoods, lands and cultures of Arctic peoples. The environmental changes that arise in the Arctic have repercussions on the entire globe. It is therefore of the utmost importance that local and global inhabitants work together to ensure the best possible future for this incredible region.

It is in this spirit of collaboration that the 2022 Arctic Futures Symposium was held in Brussels this 29-30 November. It is an annual interdisciplinary meeting that brings together Arctic scientists, indigenous people, policy makers, and other stakeholders in the Arctic region. Members of APECS Belgium were also present and are pleased to sum it up for you!

This year's speakers included members of the European Parliament, representatives from the governments of Arctic nations, from the Arctic Council, from the Saami and Inuit Circumpolar Councils, as well as Arctic experts from various universities and research institutes. During the lively panel discussions, a special emphasis was put on the urgency of taking climate action and the importance of bringing indigenous voices to the foreground of all Arctic policy discussions. The Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Sara Olsvig, reminded us that the Arctic is their home. “We are not stakeholders,” she told the audience, “we are rights-holders.” There was also no avoiding the elephant in the room: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put a strain on Arctic cooperation. All meetings of the Arctic Council (an intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the Arctic) were put on hold earlier this year as members decided on how to collaborate with Russia going forward. This led some to deem the Council to be “dead”. The Arctic Council is very much alive according to its representatives present at the Symposium, albeit undergoing a tense period of its history. Projects that do not involve Russia have since re-started. Many of the speakers, while condemning Russia’s actions, asserted that the country could not be left out of Arctic discussions. A lack of coordination with Russia when it comes to climate actions could have catastrophic consequences.

A photo exhibition by Christian Clauwers was held in the atrium for guests to enjoy during breaks. It featured fine art pictures from his travels in the Arctic.

You are now up to date on this year’s most interesting topics! If you want to know more about the Symposium, the speakers, past editions, or are interested in participating in future editions, you can head to the Arctic Futures Symposium website for more information.

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