Urban / community sustainability (ucsu) Sustainable Development of Arctic Communities

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Sustainable Development of Arctic Communities



23 May, 10:30-12:00 / 26 May, 13:00-14:30

Kåre Hendriksen - Technical University of Denmark, Arctic Technology Centre, Denmark

Room #

Birger Poppel - Project Chief, SLiCA, Ilisimatusarfik, Grønlands Universitet / University of Greenland, Greenland


Very complex dynamics currently influence settlement patterns in the Arctic: globalization, demographic changes, urbanization, changing renewable resource regimes, and exploitation of non-renewable resources, and impacts of climate change are some of the most significant forces for change in Arctic settlement structure. As an example: A decoupling from the original resource base without having established a new base has been the experience for many Arctic communities during the last decades. Changing settlement structures have huge impacts on livelihoods, living conditions and well-being - subjective as well as collective and both the places and communities that people leave and those people migrate to are affected. The former, as for instance age and gender structure as well as provision with institutional services change and the latter, as most often neither employment, housing facilities nor social or other services are sufficiently available. Many Arctic communities have thus experienced severe social problems in the wake of rapid population concentration.

The key objectives of this session is to explore the conditions for sustainable development of local communities including the links between livelihoods, living conditions, resource bases and the dependency of regional and national institutional settings.

Subjects in focus of (but not limited to) the session are:

• Reasons to move and reasons to stay

• Sustainable exploitation of local natural resources (including management regimes)

• Physical and social planning

• Inclusion of communities in developing sustainable settlements

• Community adaptation to and participation in changing settlement structures

• Technological flexibility and infrastructure development in the context of settlement structural planning


23 May, 10:30-12:00 | Part 1
Disaster Ethics in the Circumpolar North

Nancy A. Nix - University of Alaska Anchorage, USA

LeMay Hupp - Alaska Respond, USA

Stephanie Bauer - University of Alaska Anchorage, USA
Changes in Forest Yukagirs' Traditional Nature Use, 1997-2013: Local Views

Olga Lazebnik - St. Petersburg state University, Saint-Petersburg, Russia

Antonina N. Savvinova - M. K. Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University, Yakutsk, Russia

Gail Fondahl - University of Northern British Columbia, Canada

Greg Poelzer - University of Saskatchewan, Canada

Viktorya Filippova - Institute of Humanitarian Research and Problems of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Science, Yakutsk, Russia
(Im)mobilizing Knowledge of Risks and Security Concerning Environmental Change

Siri Veland - Brown University, USA

Amanda Lynch - Brown University, USA

Noor Johnson - Brown University, USA

Michael Kennedy - Brown University, USA
The Development of Nunavut and the Sociological Imagination: Connecting the Personal and the Political

Barret Weber - University of Alberta, Canada
26 May, 13:00-14:30 | Part 2
The Arctic Goes Urban: Population Concentration within Arctic Regions

Timothy Heleniak - George Washington University, USA
Management of Living Resources as a Key Factor in the Settlement Patterns

Kåre Hendriksen - Technical University of Denmark, Arctic Technology Centre, Denmark
Settlement Patterns and Sustainability

Kåre Hendriksen - Technical University of Denmark, Arctic Technology Centre, Denmark
Internal Migration To and From Greenland’s Settlements

Birger Poppel - Ilisimatusarfik, Grønlands Universitet, Greenland

Nix, Nancy A. (University of Alaska Anchorage); Hupp, LeMay (Alaska Respond); Bauer, Stephanie (University of Alaska Anchorage)
Disaster Ethics in the Circumpolar North
Resource allocation and crisis standards of care for disaster preparedness and response are significant challenges in the far north. Supply chain, staffing, and patient movement become critical. Ethical issues in resource allocation are often framed narrowly; though call for a broader view. In Alaska, towns and villages are dependent on three larger, distant cities for medical supplies and staff. What are the responsibilities of urban areas to support disaster preparedness in rural areas? Transportation is heavily dependent on variable climatic conditions. Rapid disaster response can be difficult. Stockpiling is expensive. If resilience and sustainability are fundamental goals of disaster preparedness, then chronic disasters (e.g., poverty) and a lagging, overburdened public health system must be a central focus. Implications of chronic disasters for disaster preparedness, impact, response and recovery in the arctic - with particular focus on limited resources - will emphasize the need for multiple levels of planning and interventions.


Lazebnik, Olga (St. Petersburg state University, Saint-Petersburg); Savvinova, Antonina N. (M. K. Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University, Yakutsk); Fondahl, Gail (University of Northern British Columbia); Poelzer, Greg (University of Saskatchewan, Canada); Filippova, Viktorya (Institute of Humanitarian Research and Problems of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Science, Yakutsk, Russia)
Changes in Forest Yukagirs' Traditional Nature Use, 1997-2013: Local Views
Sustainable development of indigenous peoples of the North is often directly connected with their ‘traditional nature use’. The Yukagirs of Sakha Republic (Yakutia) have not developed economic activities in the post-Soviet period that are competitive in the market place, but are still higly dependent on such ‘traditional nature use’. This paper looks at the Forest Yukagir, residing in Nelemnoe village of the Verkhnekolymskiy district (ulus), where part of the indigenous population depends derives income from employment in local government services (kindergarten, medical center), and a signficant part remain dependent on ‘traditional nature use’ activities (hunting, fishing), organized via an obshchina, “Tekki Odulok”.

Research carried out in 1997 identified local opinions on and concerns about traditional nature use, and on land-use, land tenure and self-governance issues. The same questionnaire was administered once again in 2013. Our paper analyzes the changes in the reported traditional usage of resource by the Yukagirs of Nelemnoe, and shifts in opinions abut land tenure and self-governance. Based on this analysis of changes over a 15 year period, we offer preliminary recommendations for sustainable development of the forest Yukagirs of Yakutia.


Veland, Siri (Brown University); Lynch, Amanda (Brown University); Johnson, Noor (Brown University); Kennedy, Michael (Brown University)
(Im)mobilizing Knowledge of Risks and Security Concerning Environmental Change
A constellation of factors drives Arctic petroleum policies. Perceptions of security and risk are driven by geopolitical concerns for national economic interests, scientific and engineering risk assessments, financial capacities, assessments of potential investors, legal and constitutional frameworks such as Indigenous land claims agreements, and popular opinion driven by media and activist portrayals of key processes and actors. Importantly, Indigenous, corporate and non-governmental actors lack shared citizenship, such that these cannot trump definitions of security or risk. Social movements and popular opinion of Arctic residents are therefore often mobilized around the framework of knowledge, where promoting or concealing information is strategically important in different settings. This paper explores literature to discern patterns in how (im)mobilized knowledge shapes the presence and constellation of stakeholders in social-environmental change policies. Understanding how decisions are made in complex and paradoxical policy settings is important for Arctic efforts to coordinate and collaborate in sustainable ecosystem-based management.


Weber, Barret (University of Alberta)
The Development of Nunavut and the Sociological Imagination: Connecting the Personal and the Political
There is a role for public educators to play in educating the southern public about northern social and economic issues. This paper develops a reading of the creation of Nunavut based on the scholarly literature regarding the spatial construction of Canada’s third territory. Although it is now widely recognized that climate change represents important spatial changes in the north, this paper addresses the often underemphasized socio-spatial remaking of the eastern Arctic in post-war Canadian society through innovative land claims and self-governance movements. In particular, this paper will explore how the broader framework of Arctic Urbanization has explanatory power when attempting to understand contemporary political dynamics in Nunavut that have national and global implications.


Heleniak, Timothy (George Washington University)
The Arctic Goes Urban: Population Concentration within Arctic Regions
The world achieved a milestone recently when more than half of the planet’s inhabitants now reside in urban areas. Most regions of the Arctic passed this threshold long ago. The trend across the Arctic is toward increased population concentration in the larger urban settlements and depopulation of rural areas through a combination of economic, demographic, and environmental factors. This paper examines trends across the Arctic and over time of urbanization in the Arctic, the factors contributing to this trend, and the consequences for both the larger settlements who receive large numbers of migrants and the sending regions from where they originate. The author is the lead author of the chapter “Population and Migration” in the forthcoming Arctic Human Development Report. This paper is an extension of the research done for that chapter.


Hendriksen, Kåre (Technical University of, Denmark, Arctic Technology Centre)
Management of Living Resources as a Key Factor in the Settlement Patterns
Discussing how resource management interacts with socio-economic and socio-cultural stainability and the settlement patterns based on studies in Upernavik district, Greenland. Upernavik with barely 3,000 inhabitants is a traditional hunting district, where most of the population live in the 10 small settlements scattered across the 400 km of coastline. The district was considered as poor and without development potentials, but because of the halibut fishery that developed in the 1990s, the district has gained a crucial role in Greenland's export income. However this has had little impact on the average taxable income in the district. Most of the population has continued the hunting of marine mammals as the primary livelihood, while fishing for most forms a secondary occupation. As the income from hunting is rarely included in the official financial records the local people are perceived as poor by the central government. In a combined effort to maximize tax income from fishing for halibut and provide labor for the expected mining industry the governance has changed the allocation of quotas for halibut in favor of larger boats. This promotes the boats typically coming from the southern districts, and challenges the district's socio-economic balance and thus the existing settlement patterns.


Hendriksen, Kåre (Technical University of Denmark, Arctic Technology Centre)
Settlement Patterns and Sustainability
This paper discusses settlement patterns and sustainability. Generally urbanization is recognised as an inevitable development driven by job opportunities, better service supply, education, and health services, and it is argued that this is the main driver for centralisation. Research based on economic and demographic studies and a large series of interviews problematize this. In Greenland the historical correlation between settlement pattern and livelihood has been decoupled, so that distributions of jobs and potential earnings to a growing extend is a consequence of political and/or administrative decisions. Based on traditional economic approaches centralization has been implemented to reap the rewards of expected large-scale benefits. However the positive effects on the island economy are limited. The centralization has left regions with limited livelihood and resulted in a lack of utilization of local resources and trade opportunities. Furthermore the growing towns are struggling with an un-sustainable economic situation manly based on public financed jobs or welfare payments and with limited export oriented value creation.


Poppel, Birger (Ilisimatusarfik, Grønlands Universitet)
Internal Migration To and From Greenland’s Settlements
It used to be part of the Inuit’s traditional way of life to move from places with decreasing opportunities to fish and hunt to places where conditions for making a living were more plentiful. Nowadays both more pull and push factors exist. Better housing conditions, education possibilities etc. add to the attractions of moving to larger cities and less attractive livelihoods and living standards in small towns and settlements might affect the choices people make about where to settle. A small study from the late 80’s and early 90’s suggests that the settlement pattern among Inuit was still (to some degree) determined by expected income possibilities from hunting and particularly from fishing.

This paper presents recent tendencies in economic and demographic developments of the small settlements and looks into potential push and pull factors.


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