The future of governance and handling vulnerability in Arctic ecosystems

Vulnerabilities and challenges in maintaining Arctic Ecosystems

  • Key ecosystem functions and vulnerabilities that need particular attention
  • Understanding how changes in the ecosystems and their vulnerabilities affect human welfare and communities
  • Risks and opportunities related to ecosystem services in the Arctic
  • Defining and delineating ecosystems (social-ecological systems) at different scales

Governance systems in the Arctic – meeting rapid change in Arctic ecosystems

  • Best practices, lessons learned and challenges related to governance and management of Arctic ecosystems, at the national level, across borders (bilateral and regional) and in areas beyond national jurisdiction
  • Role and importance of multilateral arrangements, including the Law of the Seas, regional and bilateral fisheries agreements and the Arctic Council
  • Meeting the many dimensions of sustainability: environmental/ecological, economic, social/cultural, and corresponding institutional aspects
  • Lessons learned from governance and management of other ecosystems, including the Antarctic
  • Preparing and reforming our governance systems to make them appropriate for the Arctic of tomorrow

We are especially interested in crosscutting papers, across academic disciplines and related to the science-policy interface. We recognize the challenge of integrating diverse knowledge sources, and we welcome proposals for papers based on local and indigenous knowledge.

We encourage all potential speakers to prepare specific and practical recommendations on possible ways forward, in particular for improved governance and for understanding and evaluating vulnerabilities. The science committee intends to prepare an outcome document (synthesis) from the session, based on the presented material and on a process for co-production of results. Keynote speakers will be identified on key themes, and information will come on the conference web site.

There is a general agreement that the integrity of Arctic ecosystems must be maintained and protected in order to secure resilience, functions and continued provision of valuable ecosystem services. At the same time, we need to understand what Arctic ecosystem vulnerabilities that need particular attention, and how these vulnerabilities can affect policy makers, Arctic communities and human welfare in general.

The Arctic region is undergoing dramatic changes, in particular due to climatic changes and subsequent responses in the ecosystems. Rapid change requires adaptive management and governance with explicit consideration of ecological, social, cultural, economic and institutional aspects. Are the governance structures apt to deal with large ecosystems as a whole, in particular when they extend to the jurisdiction of other states, extend to areas beyond national jurisdiction or exceed the competence of a management organization for fisheries or other resources? Are the governance systems sufficiently flexible over time, so that new measures could be implemented fast if necessary – and are there mechanisms in place to ensure that the governing bodies have the necessary information and science advice at the right time? Is science and monitoring in place to sufficiently provide the governing bodies with the knowledge and insights needed for sound governance and decision-making? In short: How secure is the future for our Arctic ecosystems?

Recent key studies, assessments and management plans have been provided by nations with Arctic regions, as well as Arctic Council strategies, studies and assessments that draw the bigger picture. This includes the Arctic Marine Strategic Plan (AMSP) 2015-2025, the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA) and the assessments on Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic (AACA) and Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA). It is important to build on what is already present and how this can be relevant for the future research and governance. Arctic Frontier 2019 will combine overarching and general Arctic regions issues and challenges with existing management and governance structures and discuss how these work, while also draw on ecosystem research and assessments along with examples of how the concept of ecosystem services is being applied.

Scientific committee members:

  • Lars-Otto Reiersen, Akvaplan-niva AS & UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway (lead)
  • Alf Håkon Hoel, Counselor Fisheries and Oceans, Norwegian Embassy to the USA, Washington DC*
  • Claire Armstrong, Norwegian college of fisheries science, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway
  • Finn Katerås, Norwegian Environment Agency, Norway
  • Gro I. van der Meeren, Institute of Marine Research, Norway
  • Robert Stephenson, St. Andrews Biological Station, Canada

*from 01 August 2018, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway



Alexey Pavlov Photo: Lars Olav Sparboe

Alexey Pavlov
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