Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Canada's North and a Changing Climate: What Does the Future Hold?





As rapid climate change continues to alter Canada’s Arctic in dramatic ways, there has been an unprecedented domestic and international interest in what the future holds for this fascinating – and important – region.

As the ice disappears, new opportunities for natural resource extraction, shipping, tourism, and infrastructure arise, and with them could come substantial new investment and employment to the North.

However, the effects of environmental change, such as shifting and melting permafrost, melting glaciers, shrinking ocean ice and a shortened season for ice roads could have significant social and economic consequences for Canada’s arctic peoples, and the entire nation.

If you’re in the Ottawa area tomorrow afternoon, I encourage you to join me at the Museum of Nature for a panel discussion hosted by the Canadian Committee of the IUCN. The event will bring together specialists and members of the interested public to have an interactive conversation on a range of topics:

• Sustainable wildlife use – David Lee, Wildlife Biologist, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated

• Aboriginal traditional knowledge – James Eetoolook, Vice‐President, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., and Chair, Inuit Wildlife and Environment Advisory Council;

• Protected areas – Rob Prosper, Executive Director, Northern Canada, Parks Canada;

• Marine transportation – Ross MacDonald, Manager, Special Projects and Arctic Shipping, Marine Safety, Transport Canada.

The event will be chaired by Tom Laughlin, Deputy Head of the IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Program. Following the presentations, the speakers and the audience will have an open discussion about how sustainable developments in the North can provide maximum benefits for indigenous communities, and for Canada as a whole, while ensuring development in the North occurs in a sustainable manner.

The IUCN (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) is one of the world’s largest global environmental networks. The Canadian Committee is a unique group on the national conservation scene – it brings representatives from government, non-profit organizations, academia and Aboriginal groups around one table to talk about conservation issues of global and national concern, such as climate change, biodiversity, and indigenous peoples’ rights and interests.

I was excited to join the Canadian Committee this year, and to engage Nature Canada with fellow Committee members, including Parks Canada, Environment Canada, Nature Conservancy, and Aboriginal groups, to promote conservation awareness and action on biodiversity in Canada.

I encourage you to join me tomorrow. If you can’t make it, post a comment here with any message you’d like me to take to those in attendance – what should the future hold for Canada’s Arctic?

Event details:

A Panel Discussion Hosted by the Canadian Committee for IUCN
Canadian Museum of Nature, 240 McLeod Street, Ottawa
May 26, 2011, 1:30 ‐ 5 p.m.

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