The vast Arctic region makes up 17 percent of the globe, is home to four million residents and encompasses some of the planet’s least disturbed large marine ecosystems. Thirty different indigenous groups live in the Arctic where life has been shaped for thousands of years by the ability to adapt to this land of perpetual ice and snow.
Climate change is rapidly melting the Arctic’s sea ice, fundamentally altering both human communities and natural systems. The retreating ice is not only restructuring Arctic ecosystems, it is also permitting new industrial access for commercial fishing, offshore energy development and commercial shipping on a scale never seen before.
To protect life in the Arctic, we must first and foremost work to lower carbon emissions that are the major cause of warming temperatures. This will take a concerted global effort. At the same time, we must build conservation solutions that address climate change in the Arctic.
This historic threat to the Arctic also presents an opportunity. The Pew Charitable Trusts established Oceans North to promote science and community-based stewardship of North America’s Arctic Ocean and the resulting well-being of indigenous residents who rely upon its natural wealth.
Working with indigenous communities and Arctic residents in Canada and the United States, Oceans North advocates science-based policies consistent with indigenous land claims and traditional practices in the following areas: sustainable commercial fishing, environmentally responsible offshore hydrocarbon development and oil spill standards and appropriate Arctic shipping safety rules.