THEME 1

Sustainable Development – Arctic Economies
The natural environment of the arctic is unique. Its biodiversity is an important part of the earth’s ecosystem and provides natural resources that offer the basis for human settlement in the region. Humankind for thousands of years has subsisted on the bounty of nature and the life styles of the indigenous peoples and other inhabitants of the Arctic region constitute an invaluable part of the world’s cultural diversity. Human habitation of the Arctic’s fragile ecosystem can survive only with sustainable utilisation of the natural resources.

Scientific knowledge and technology is the prerequisite for successful development in the Arctic. Scientific knowledge and technology should be used by and for the residents to enable them to better adapt to local circumstances and manage their resources in a sustainable way. Research on sustainable development of the Arctic region must therefore be based both on international science and on the experience of local communities. Participation of the general public and educational institutions in matters concerning sustainable development is extremely important.

The most important economic results for the Arctic region from research and development can be achieved through highly competetive and sustainable use of renewable resources, and successful and quality-of-life enhancing exploitation of non-renewable resources. This can only be achived through technical advances based on research efforts. Improving our understanding of the relationship between people, resources available and the Arctic environment is important, as well as ensuring sustainable use of these resources. Global processes and environmental change can and will effect these interactions and could contribute to unsustainable practices.

Residents of the Arctic live at the margins where changes take place before they express themselves elsewhere. These changes are both natural/environmental but they are also economic and social. It is important to focus on the interplay between society, ecology and exploitation of resources, seen from as well a broad perspective (e.g. oil and gas exploitetion) as from narrower one (e.g. Saami reindeer herding).