The Canadian Arctic is a vast and exquisite place known for its power to transform people that have had the fortune of visiting there.
The pace of Arctic ice melt is a glaring beacon of global climate change, however, and many countries have jurisdiction in this dynamic environment (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States), making it an international political arena.
Although Canada is the largest Arctic nation and considered a prominent member within the international scientific community, experts have long been pointing to the dire lack of a nationally coordinated polar management policy within Canada.
There is an integrated policy for the Arctic regions within the European Union (EU) involving Denmark, Finland and Sweden (while Norway and Iceland are members of a European Economic Strategy for this area).
As well, the United States has territory in the Arctic and recently hosted an international consortium titled the White House Arctic Science Ministerial, the first-ever convening of science ministers from around the world to focus on the potential of increased cooperation on Arctic science:
We, the Ministers representing the eight Arctic States (Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States), fourteen additional States (China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom), and the European Union, in partnership with Arctic Indigenous representatives, have gathered to assert the importance of improving collaborative science efforts in the Arctic.
Long-time Canadian Arctic researcher and professor, John England has been urging the federal government to form a Polar Policy in Canada for years (see his opinion piece in the scientific journal Nature in 2010). He recently gave an enlightening interview on The Current (CBC Radio One) revealing the continued lack of coordination amidst experts managing scientific research and policy concerning the Arctic within Canada.
If this country wants to be recognized as a really engaged northern nation, not only in science but economic, strategic and cultural, environmental concerns, we need to get our act together and stand on the international stage and identify a polar policy that ensures that we have a long-term vision and a co-ordinated and strategic plan to implement that. ~ John England, PhD.