Editorial by Stefán Skjaldarson, Ambassador and Moderator at the Arctic Council’s COP25 side-event.
It was very inspiring to see the high level of interest for the Arctic Council and its work at the COP25 in Madrid. The turnout at the Council’s side event All Aboard! Tackling Polar Ocean Acidification, held in the conference’s Cryosphere Pavilion, was quite impressive and discussions I had with some of the attendees after the event, not least young people, gave me confidence that the work we do matters to many. The success of the event also confirmed to me that the Arctic Council’s science-based approach to meet the environmental challenges we face, as well as the active involvement of the Arctic indigenous peoples, is extremely important to succeed with our work.
The presentations by the scientists and the gloomy perspectives they gave of our future if we do not act decisively now, caught the attention of those present. Their accounts of the different challenges we face in the Arctic, due to melting of the ice and fast-increasing ocean acidification, and their calls for action, left the audience with a true sense of urgency. Moreover, we were presented with concrete examples of how this all affects the livelihood of the indigenous peoples of the North.
The event shows that people, not least young people, are listening and that our actions - or inactions – are watched closely and that we will be judged by our performance. We must therefore keep up the good work by using the best of science combined with indigenous knowledge, to lay the foundation for meaningful decisions and actions. In this context I would like to mention AMAP’s Arctic Ocean Acidification Report as well as their highly valuable policy recommendations, both of which were presented at the event. Also, the perspectives presented by the Inuit Circumpolar Council gave us all a sense of how the livelihoods of Arctic indigenous peoples are affected and how indigenous knowledge that has been passed down for thousands of years, is relevant when meeting the challenges of the fast changing Arctic environment.
Indeed, other countries, regions and continents will also need to act responsibly if we are to make meaningful progress in addressing the root causes of ocean acidification in the Arctic. We who live in the Arctic should therefore not only use the knowledge we have and the knowledge we will acquire in our work at home. We must also share it and use it to make the world aware of the consequences that their actions and inactions have on the Arctic environment. Moreover, that the changes happening in Arctic also can have dire consequences for the world outside the Arctic. That is why it is so important that the Arctic Council reach out to the wider world by i.e. organizing events of the kind we did in Madrid.