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Symposium 2012

Proposal - Science diplomacy to ensure rational use of energy resources in the arctic ocean

The Challenge

As temperatures rise with a changing climate, Arctic sea ice melts. As a consequence, the once ice-covered Arctic Ocean becomes increasingly accessible, with implications for various economic sectors. ...

As temperatures rise with a changing climate, Arctic sea ice melts. As a consequence, the once ice-covered Arctic Ocean becomes increasingly accessible, with implications for various economic sectors. In particular, the oil and gas resources below the seafloor have whetted the appetite of the littoral states—Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States—as well as outsiders, such as China and the European Union, which are developing or rethinking their Arctic strategies.

Proposal: Science diplomacy is fundamental to the rational use of energy resources in the Arctic Ocean.

Rationale: Contributions of “science and research to the collective understanding of the circumpolar Arctic"1 underlie the sustainable development of the region. In this sense, science is fundamental to the exploration and production of energy resources in the Arctic Ocean.

We now can look across previous centuries and millennia to understand the relevance of modern events and phenomena. We also have expanding capacity to predict future environmental conditions and impacts in our world; reflecting our increasing dependence on accurate observations and objective analyses that are shared in a timely manner to make good decisions.

However, science is much more than a systematic process to interpret the dynamics of natural systems or assess the impacts of human activities. Science is a common framework to facilitate international, interdisciplinary and inclusive interactions independent of political, economic or cultural ideologies:

  • Science is an instrument for Earth system monitoring and assessment or even as an essential gauge of changes over time and space.
  • Science is a source of invention and commercial enterprise as well as an early warning system.
  • Science is a determinant of public policy agendas and an element of international institutions.
  • Science is one of the “subsidiary means for the determination of rules of law,” as provided by the International Court of Justice.2
  • Science is an element of continuity in our world, from the past into the distant future, based on an evolving foundation of prior knowledge.
  • Science is a tool of diplomacy, fostering open dialogues that are crucial to protect our common welfare and the world we live in.

Together, these features of “science diplomacy”3 are essential to balance: (1) environmental protection, economic prosperity and social equity; (2) urgencies of the moment and needs of future generations; and (3) national interests and common interests. Such balance is necessary to engender the rational use of energy resources in the Arctic Ocean.

 


 

1 Ottawa Declaration. 1996. Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council. 19 September 1996, Ottawa, Canada.
2 ICJ. 2011. Article 38. Statute of the International Court of Justice. United Nations.
3 Berkman, P.A. and Vylegzhanin, A.N. 2012. Conclusions: Building Common Interests in the Arctic Ocean. IN:Berkman, P.A. and Vylegzhanin, A.N. (eds.). Environmental Security in the Arctic Ocean. Springer, Dordrecht. In press.

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