From Knowledge to Action in the Changing North: ArcticNet’s Mission

Friday, February 12, 2016: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Marriott Balcony A (Marriott Wardman Park)
Louis Fortier, University of Laval, Quebec, QC, Canada
Our climate is changing rapidly and nowhere else on Earth is this change as intense as in the cold expanses of the Arctic. Rapid sea-ice decline transforms the ecosystems of Arctic seas, opening new sea-lanes to navigation and access to untapped oil reserves and mineral resources. Thawing permafrost destabilizes roads, airstrips, houses and the ecosystems of the tundra. Access to traditional fishing and hunting grounds and to safe drinking water is increasingly difficult for Northerners who are ever more dependent on southern goods, including tobacco, sugar, and industrial food that bring increasing health issues. This disruption of the traditional ways of life and accelerated change are also impacting the health and social wellbeing of Inuit. Industrialization and modernization of the North provide obvious economic opportunities, but also pressure the environment, the health system, the education system and the culture of northern societies. These multiple environmental, socio-economic and geopolitical perturbations are interacting to bring about a major transformation of the North. ArcticNet is a Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence jointly funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Industry Canada to help the country prepare for the impacts of this transformation. Ensuring that scientific and traditional knowledge are mobilized to inform policy and assist decision-making is at the hearth of the mission of ArcticNet. To achieve this objective, the Network brings together end users of the research and specialists in the natural, social and health sciences to conduct Integrated Regional Impact studies (IRIS) of four regions of the Inuit Nunangat – the country of the Inuit.  The IRIS framework engages the end users (Inuit, industries, and governments); identifies knowledge gaps; conduct the needed research; integrates models, research results and traditional knowledge into a regional assessment; broadcast the assessment; evaluates its impacts; and starts all over again as an IRIS is an iterative and evolving exercise. ArcticNet’s research strategy and first two IRISes are briefly presented and a first evaluation of impacts and uptake by the end users is discussed.