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(Research): Combining Knowledge for a Sustainable Arctic – AMAP Cases as Knowledge Driven Science-Policy Interactions

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Abstract

While the Arctic is often perceived as a pristine environment, it is exposed to local as well as globally transported contaminants and is undergoing severe changes in environmental conditions. Major oceanic currents and wind systems transport contaminants from distant sources, with the Arctic acting as a ecosystems and ways of life «sink» for harmful substances. Likewise, climate warming in the Arctic is happening more than twice as fast as at lower latitudes, causing changes in ecosystems as well as ways of life for many Indigenous people living in the Arctic.

A prerequisite for managing and mitigating the impacts of both pollution and climate change in the Arctic is the acquisition of knowledge of conditions, with adequate geographical coverage and sufficiently high spatial resolution, as well as mechanisms for communicating such knowledge for policymaking. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) was initiated to fulfill such a role in 1991, later becoming a working group of the Arctic Council at its establishment in 1996. AMAP focuses its work on the interface between science and policy. Due to the nature of the origins of pollution in the Arctic, such work requires a focus on both contributing with a knowledge base for policy making among the Arctic states, as well as to international bodies outside the Arctic. The contribution made by AMAP to the establishment of the Stockholm and Minamata Conventions are examples of science and policy development in the Arctic successfully feeding into global international processes.

While long-term research facilities in the vast Arctic region are scarce, Indigenous groups represent a source of knowledge which may contribute significantly to understanding the changing environmental conditions in the Arctic. Therefore, from the start, AMAP has included Indigenous groups – Permanent Participants to the Arctic Council – both in its decisionmaking structures as well its expert groups. Co-development of knowledge has informed understanding of climate change and ensured relevance in efforts addressing adaptation and resilience, as discussed in the Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic (AACA) reports.

Still, combining Indigenous, traditional and local knowledge and conventional science remains a challenge, both due to their different origin and nature, the diverse spatial diversity across the Arctic, and also due to the speed of change which challenges the predictive power of all knowledge-based systems. Methods to address these challenges need to be discussed.

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Correspondence to Rolf Rødven .

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Rødven, R., Wilson, S. (2022). (Research): Combining Knowledge for a Sustainable Arctic – AMAP Cases as Knowledge Driven Science-Policy Interactions. In: Berkman, P.A., Vylegzhanin, A.N., Young, O.R., Balton, D.A., Øvretveit, O.R. (eds) Building Common Interests in the Arctic Ocean with Global Inclusion. Informed Decisionmaking for Sustainability. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-89312-5_9

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