Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

As Canada takes Arctic Council helm, experts stress north's vulnerability to spills, emergencies

13.05.2013
International experts recommend key focus areas for next 2 years

As leadership of the Arctic Council passes from Sweden to Canada May 15, experts say it is crucial that northern nations strengthen response capabilities to shipping-related accidents foreseen in newly-opened northern waters, as well as to more-common local emergencies such as floods, forest fires and rescue situations.

And Canada needs to lead by example. Despite having the world's longest Arctic coastline and second-largest territory in the region, its far northern marine and aviation infrastructure badly lags by international comparison, according to experts with the Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program, an initiative of the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto and the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation.

Northern emergency flight rescue operations today originate from the Royal Canadian Air Force base in the southern Ontario city of Trenton and involve at least eight hours of flying. The Canadian Coast Guard aims to respond to requests for icebreaking services within 10 hours. However, weather and distance often result in response times measured in days.

By contrast, Russia is building 10 search and rescue stations along its Northern Sea Route, expected to open in 2015.

The Arctic Council ministerial meeting this week is hosted by the outgoing chair, Sweden, in that country's northernmost city, Kiruna.

The anticipated 300 delegates - perhaps the largest in Arctic Council history - include noted Canadian historian John English, author of a forthcoming book - Ice and Water: Power, Peoples and the Arctic Council - and a senior member of the Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program team. Says Dr. English: "Chairing the Arctic Council represents a real opportunity for Canada to show leadership in a region whose importance to global affairs is rapidly increasing."

In Kiruna, specific initiatives and goals of the Canadian chairmanship will be articulated. Minister Leona Aglukkaq has detailed Canada's main priorities in the chair as "development for the people of the North," supporting this with sub-themes of sustainable Arctic communities, responsible resource extraction, and safe Arctic shipping.

"Underpinning all of the Arctic Council's work must be a commitment to the full involvement of Permanent Participants from indigenous communities," says Thomas Axworthy, President and CEO of the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation. "In that regard, as it moves forward on its priority of safe shipping, Canada should heed the voices of those living in the north who know first-hand the realities of Arctic emergency response."

In a May 2012 report, the Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program said: "A proudly northern nation, Canada is the second largest Arctic state. Half of the country's land mass lies in the Arctic and sub-Arctic. It has a 162,000-km Arctic coast line, but is the only Arctic nation without a deep water port."

The report recommended Canada "make the necessary strategic investments in Canadian Arctic air and marine infrastructure to enable Canada to effectively implement the Arctic Council negotiated accord on search and rescue" and be prepared to fulfil its international agreement obligations.

The "Agreement on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue" negotiated under Arctic Council auspices and signed in 2011, clearly defines the territory for which a nation is the primary responder, with responses augmented as required by other Arctic states.

Local community members are often the frontline of response to emergencies in remote Arctic communities, says Sara French, Director of the Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program which, early next year, will host a major meeting on northern security issues, partnering with several international organizations sharing common concerns.

A 2010 survey conducted for the Program showed about 90 per cent of northern respondents deemed of top importance (a four or five out of five) national capacity to respond to disasters, such as major northern oil spills, emergency search and rescue teams and equipment, and basic public infrastructure.

When asked if Canada is well equipped to respond to emergencies, including search and rescue teams and equipment, only 40 per cent of northerners agreed. Just 11 per cent thought there was sufficient capacity to respond to disasters, such as a major spill. Investing in infrastructure was virtually tied with better healthcare as an investment priority among Canadians in the Far North (65 per cent vs. 66 per cent respectively).

As stated in the Program report Canada as an Arctic Power:"For northern Canadians, fatal aircraft accidents in Resolute and Yellowknife, and the deadly fire on-board a Norwegian cruise ship - all in the fall of 2011- further highlighted the need to develop effective emergency management systems in the Arctic that are matched by adequate assets to carry them out." ()

An Institute of the North survey in Alaska found similar thoughts about Northern priorities among residents of that state, with "capacity to respond to disasters, such as major oil spills" in first place; "capacity to respond to emergencies, including search and rescue teams and equipment" in third place; and "basic infrastructure, like roads, hospitals, libraries, schools and water treatment facilities" in fourth. (http://bit.ly/16qmKxT)

Meanwhile, a Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program background brief, "Interests and Roles of Non-Arctic States in the Arctic", based on a 2011 meeting held in conjunction with Canadian International Council, showed many Asian interests relate to shipping.

It is not yet known how many, if any, new non-Arctic countries will be accorded Arctic Council observer status. Their role in shaping Arctic governance is already being felt at the International Maritime Organization, however, which is negotiating a voluntary Polar Code for Arctic shipping. At the talks, Canada articulated a strong stance on pollution-related issues.

Top recommendations offered by the Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program to the Canadian government as it takes the chair of the Arctic Council: (compiled based on research outlined in Canada as an Arctic Power, http://bit.ly/13YqH8W):

Propose a new funding mechanism to enable Permanent Participants to fully participate in all of the working groups of the Arctic Council.

Support the Permanent Participants in co-operation with the Arctic Council member states to jointly review the role of the Indigenous Peoples Secretariat (IPS) following the creation of the Permanent Secretariat of the Arctic Council in Tromsø, Norway.

Make the necessary strategic investments in Canadian Arctic air and marine infrastructure to enable Canada to effectively implement the Arctic Council negotiated accord on search and rescue.

Encourage the Arctic Council to recognize the special role for regional, state, and territorial governments in Arctic governance and particularly in the Arctic Council.

Encourage the Arctic Council Secretariat to create plain-language summaries of its studies and activities so that the information is accessible to interested citizens.

Propose that any candidate for Arctic Council Observer status must publicly declare its respect for the sovereignty of Arctic states and the rights of Arctic indigenous peoples.

Fund the Canadian Polar Commission to a level equivalent to counterpart institutions in other Arctic states.

About the Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program

A partnership between the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto and the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, the Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program is dedicated to studying and promoting four overarching areas of concern: public opinion research, Arctic Council, Arctic Peoples and Security, and emergency management. Program details, publications and opinion polls can be accessed at http://www.gordonfoundation.ca. Follow @ArcticSecurity on Twitter.

Terry Collins | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tca.tc
http://www.gordonfoundation.ca

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht When corals eat plastics
24.05.2018 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>