SEI’s Executive Director Johan Kuylenstierna, and Senior Research Fellow Marcus Carson are both in Fairbanks to contribute their research expertise as part of the Swedish delegation. On 17 March, Kuylenstierna will present key findings from the Arctic Resilience Assessment to the Council’s Senior Arctic Officials in his role as SEI Executive Director and member of the assessment’s steering committee.

“Building resilience in the Arctic is about understanding how the multiple drivers of change connect, and engaging with the capacities of countries and communities to adapt and shape their future development. The Arctic Resilience Assessment will generate results that can support decision-making and capacity development,” said Kuylenstierna.

The Arctic Resilience Assessment is a science-based assessment that aims to better understand the integrated impacts of both social and environmental change in the Arctic. It was initiated by the Swedish Chairmanship and approved as an Arctic Council project at the Senior Arctic Official’s meeting in 2011. The Arctic Resilience Report is led by the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Stockholm Resilience Centre and engages experts from across the Arctic.

“Change, sometimes dramatic, is not new to the Arctic, but it is increasingly evident that the region is now experiencing an accelerating pace of interacting changes. These changes have the potential to spread their impacts to other regions through magnifying climate change or affecting fisheries, among other things,” said Carson, who is project leader of the Arctic Resilience Assessment.

Arctic science and policy

The goals of the Arctic Resilience Assessment are to:

  • Identify potential large and interacting systems shifts that could affect human development and well-being in the Arctic.
  • Analyze how different drivers of change interact in ways that affect the ability of ecosystems and human populations to withstand shocks, adapt or transform, and
  • Evaluate strategies for adaptation, transformation and development in the face of rapid change for governments and communities.

The U.S. currently holds the rotating Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials and Permanent Participants meet twice yearly to receive progress reports on the Council’s work, approve publications and other materials for public release, and plan the near-term and long-term direction of the Council.

Ambassador David Balton, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials, heralded this meeting as “a terrific opportunity for the Arctic governments and indigenous representatives to take stock of the U.S. chairmanship, and to consider the future directions that we want the Arctic Council to take.” Ambassador Balton will hold a media briefing in Fairbanks on Friday 18 March at 9:00am Alaska time to talk about outcomes from the meeting.

Other SEI activities in Fairbanks include Marcus Carson’s contribution to a round table discussion of Arctic science and policy with Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski on 13 March, as well as the participation of both Johan Kuylenstierna and Marcus Carson in a pan-Arctic resilience workshop organized by the U.S. Chairmanship.

Parallel to Arctic Council activities, Carson is also taking part in the Arctic Science Summit Week, which gathers scientists and policymakers involved in Arctic research. It aims to provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration and cooperation in all fields of Arctic science. As part of this year’s edition, Carson is delivering a keynote speech and participate in a high-level panel about Science-Policy interface for the International Arctic Assembly Day on 15 March. He will also give a short talk at a workshop of the Arctic Observing Summit.

The Members of the Arctic Council are the eight Arctic States – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Russian Federation, and the U.S. There are also six organizations that represent Arctic indigenous peoples that have the status of Permanent Participants.

Learn more about the Arctic Council meeting in Fairbanks »

Learn more about the Arctic Resilience Assessment Interim Report »

Learn more about the Arctic Science Summit week »