published on Universität Bielefeld - Ecologic Institute
Northern communities are highly vulnerable to Global Ecological Change (GEC): The Arctic is known as the region experiencing climate change twice as fast as other world regions. Arctic communities need to adapt to environmental changes caused by sea ice melt, natural changes such as variations in population and migration of wildlife, and contaminants in traditional foods. The new accessibility of Arctic regions has also opened up new economic opportunities (mining, oil and gas exploration, tourism and shipping), which pose additional environmental risks. In the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum formed by the Arctic-rim states in 1996 to improve cooperation with regard to climate protection and security and to enhance the relation between Arctic-states and the indigenous peoples living in the Arctic, six indigenous peoples organizations have status of Permanent Participants: The Aleut International Association(AIA), the Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC), the Gwich ́in Council International (GCI), the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North(RAIPON) and the Saami Council(SC). Although they do not have voting (but consultation) rights, they represent 500,000 indigenous peoples living in the Arctic regions of Russia, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark (Greenland), Canada, Iceland and the U.S at Arctic Council meetings and are recognized as full participants in all Arctic Council working groups. The paper provides an overview on their positions on tourism, resource extraction and shipping in the Arctic region as can be found in the policy-and strategy papers of the six Permanent Participants to the Arctic Council.