Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 159

She then turned her attention to “climate change mitigation and
adaptation” and how there is action that can be taken “within the region”
– action that needs to be assessed “quickly”, and that particularly
concerns “adaptation”, because the changes that are occurring are
“happening at such a fast pace”.
Collective action
The UNEP director then spoke about the importance of better assessing
the value of biodiversity in Arctic countries through national policies and
programmes. Wilkie said it is important to “include that natural capital
into national accounting” methods because “decisions are very often
based on economic considerations”. She added that it is therefore
important to “show the economic value of the ecosystem and the
biodiversity” in the region.
Wilkie added that “conservation, sustainable use and best practices”, as
well as taking into consideration environmental impact assessments, are
also important, and concluded her speech by describing the challenges
facing the Arctic as “enormous”.
“The Arctic people have shown … over many hundreds of years how
they have adapted to these extreme circumstances in which they live in
terms of the conditions and the climate. Changes are happening faster
now, but ‘where there is a will there is a way’ – we can still change it
round: we can still take actions to make sure that the effects of climate
change and human activities are not catastrophic. The United Nations
Environment Programme stands willing to help where we can.”
The Arctic is facing mounting pressure on all sides as a result of climate
change, particularly as a result of human impact. Yet despite this negative
backdrop, through collective action, engagement, adaptation and
mitigation, there is hope that the Arctic’s beauty can be preserved.
communities”, leading to “losing some of the
sea ice” and affecting “the power of the waves
and storm surges”.
Wilkie added that the most extreme impacts of
climate change would be felt by the “four million
people now living in the Arctic”, in particular on
their livelihoods and local cultures.
Human impact
Wilkie then turned to Man’s exploitation of the
Arctic region, drawing attention to unsustainable
overfishing and the particularly severe impact
on the coastal areas of Iceland, Norway and
Canada. She also discussed the damaging
effects of pollution.
“There are many different forms of pollution,
many different sources, but, of course, when
you have increased transport coming to the
Arctic, there is a bigger risk of having maritime
pollution … we also have the risk of pollution
from oil and gas exploitation, the exploitation of
minerals, and, of course, we have nutrient run-
off and marine litter.”
The UNEP director highlighted the problem of
plastics and discarded fishing nets in the ocean
which are having a detrimental effect on
whales, seals and seabirds.
Solutions
Despite the negative developments, Wilkie offered
some hope and recommendations to mitigate
such negative activities on the environment. She
first spoke about “management and assessment”
and the important role that the Arctic Biodiversity
Assessment can play. But traditional knowledge
is also vital, she said, “particularly when it comes
to measures for adaptation, for innovation, to deal
with the challenges that are ahead of us”.
“Awareness-raising, advocacy and engagement
is the second [recommendation] …particularly
looking at how we can educate the people living
in the Arctic but, more importantly, those that
are living outside also, because some of these
effects are happening from things that are
beyond the control of the people living in
the Arctic.
“We can’t do things on our own, but if we stand
together, we have a much better chance.”
Wilkie spoke of the important role regional
groups can play in “advocating and engaging
in international processes, either at the regional
or at the global level”.
B R OW S E
H O R I Z O N
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H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
I S S U E S I X
159
S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : E N V I R O N M E N T
Man is having a
particularly negative
impact on the
Arctic’s waters
© Guido Appenzeller
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