Thoughts from the Science Plenary

Robert Stephenson, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada presenting on the challenges for governance of changing Arctic ecosystems. Photo: Eirik Aasmo Finne

The Wednesday program was kicked off by a science plenary session. Four speakers from four separate fields were invited. The first presenter was Sabine Pahl from the University of Plymouth. Coming from a social behavior science background, Pahl put emphasis on the importance of understanding peoples thinking to guide our effort in reducing marine littering. As someone from the natural sciences, it was interesting to hear her view.

The second speaker was Robert Stephenson from Fisheries and Oceans, Canada. It was interesting to hear his perspectives on bringing together industry, academia and government to answer strategies questions. He listed four key problems of current management; being that different authorities manage in different ways, there are different and incomplete suite of objectives, no considerations of tradeoffs and no evaluation of cumulative effects. To solve these problems, we need to integrate sustainability in the ecological, economic, social and institutional sectors.

There were also excellent talks by Martin Sommerkorn, head of conservation at WWF Arctic Programme, about climate change, with special focus on the Arctic amplification, and Nettie La Belle-Hammer, a space physicist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Satellite who talked about sustainable development of Arctic Alaskan communities.

From this session, I am left with two main take home messages. Firstly, the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, communicating in a common language, to solve global problems. As Stephenson coined it, we need to get off the “silos” and “Cylinders of Excellence”. Further, there is a need for the science to take a more active role in mitigation of environmental impact. Even though it is important and necessary to describe change and the effects on the environment, we should in addition strive to come up with solutions and action plans to mitigate negative effects.

By Eirik Aasmo Finne, Masters, University of Oslo





DISCLAIMER: These posts are contributions from participants in Arctic Frontiers Young Ambassadors program and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arctic Frontiers.

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