Tag Archives: Arctic

EU preservation of Arctic policy

“…The European Union engagement in the Arctic is not a matter of convenience or the way to prove our importance in geopolitical field” said the Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius during following the adoption of the new EU Arctic Policy.

“It is a necessity. First of all, because the Arctic is home for hundreds of thousands of Europeans. Secondly, environment crisis and climate change already showed us that what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Similarly, global actions and demand patterns do not stay out of the region. Geopolitical competition is growing and the balance in the Arctic has been lost in climate field. We have to bring this balance back.

“This is the reason why today we adopted the new Joint Communication for a stronger EU engagement for a peaceful, sustainable and prosperous Arctic with the European Green Deal at its heart.

“This is the make or break decade in the fight against the climate and biodiversity crises. Our generation has the unique and only opportunity to change the world and the Arctic is at the centre of this change.

“The Arctic is warming up three times faster than the rest of the planet. Forest fires are becoming the norm in some parts of the region. Collapsing infrastructure led last summer to a huge oil slick. This must be fixed and the reason is simple: the melting of ice and thawing of permafrost in the Arctic further accelerate climate change and have huge knock-on effects, felt by Europeans and throughout the world. The EU is ready to lead by example.

“…We will enhance our strategic foresight, especially regarding the links between climate change and security. We will look to extend our Civil Protection capacities in the Arctic and offer new services from our world-leading Copernicus and Galileo satellite systems, to help environmental monitoring, maritime safety and search and rescue.

“In this, it will be important to work together with all Arctic partners in Europe, with the US and Canada, and with other partners involved in Arctic affairs.

“In the entire climate change or geopolitical action local and indigenous people are at the center of our efforts. There are many Europeans among them and we will support an inclusive and sustainable development of the Arctic to the benefit of them and future generations. We will be stimulating better education, sustainable growth and jobs.

“We aim to increase the involvement of young, women and Indigenous Peoples in Arctic decision-making. We seek to boost digital connectivity through EU space programmes and the Connecting Europe Facility and support technologies and solutions for the green transition, including through the EU Recovery Plan.

“The EU is in the Arctic. We have strategic and day-to-day interests, both in the European Arctic and the broader Arctic region. By this strategy, the EU aims to promote sound environmental management, biodiversity protection and efficient energy use, support climate change mitigation and adaptation, and contribute to the resilience of the people in the face of climate change effects”.

EU updates Arctic policy

“While recognising the primary responsibility of the Arctic states for the development of the region, the Council notes that many of the issues affecting the region are of a global nature and are more effectively addressed through regional or multilateral cooperation. It notes that the EU should continue to make a significant contribution in both regional and multilateral fora which deal with arctic matters.”

“In light of the new challenges and opportunities across the Arctic and growing international interest, the Council invites the High Representative and the Commission to continue to actively implement EU Arctic policy, to initiate a process in order to update this policy and to continue to report to the Council regularly.”

Sami ask for UN protection from Russian hunting club

Sami, an indigenous people living in the Murmansk region, in north of Russia, appealed to the United Nations (UN) with a complaint against the actions of the regional government. Representatives of the Sami community complained about the transfer of the pasture lands of the state farm in a long-term lease to the Belgorod Hunting Club (BEZRK).

The management of the Olenevod state farm, specialized in reindeer, and the Sami Heritage and Development Fund state in their appeal underlined that the auction for the right to use the land was held without the consent of the indigenous population living compactly in this territory. As a result, the right to the free use of lands necessary for traditional farming, guaranteed by the Federal Law, was violated.

Sami accused officials of violating a number of articles of the International Convention on Indigenous Peoples and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, writes Novaya Gazeta, specifying that the lands on the Ponoi River, where the reindeer migrate and where the wintering grounds for pregnant female moose are located, were transferred to the Belgorod hunting club “BEZRK” this winter.

Earlier Sami activists filed a similar complaint with the Russian presidential administration. They asked to keep the so-called “maternity hospital” for the Ponoi elks in the Lovozero in the Murmansk region, drawing the authorities’s attention to the fact that it would be destroyed by the transfer of land to the hunting club. However, local officials claim that there are no permits for the use of land by reindeer herders, no contracts have been concluded with them, and no official permits have been issued for reindeer herders on the disputed land plots. Having received zero aid from the administration of Vladimir Putin, the Sami decided to apply to the UN.

At present there is a hunting boom among Russian nouveaux riches who dramatically lack political, social and cultural sophistication, confusing killing of wild animals for noble occupation, contributing to upgrading their status. There are numerous avid hunters among members of Russian Duma, an also among Federation Council, reflecting interests of hunting lobby, led by senator – avid hunter Andrei Klishas. The situation explains the decision of the Sami community to address the United Nations because only very few would believe they could win against all-powerful hunting lobby, pursuing the interest  to kill the best of wildlife.

Saami or Sami, Laplanders, Kild are a small Finno-Ugric people,  living in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The habitat of the Sami settlement stretches from the eastern tip of the Kola Peninsula through the north of Finland and Norway to the central part of the Scandinavian Peninsula.

The Sami, 1770 people  in 2010, have a clear national identity, their own flag and anthem, and their rights are represented by elected bodies of cultural self-government – the Sami parliaments.

The main occupations of the Sami have been reindeer herding, fishing, sea and land hunting.

Russian hunting club invasion into their territory is the second blow to Sami people after they suffered a defeat from Norway government in the end of March, deciding to move on with copper mine construction in their traditional habitat. The resolve came after years of Sami struggle in different fora.

Review by Anna van Densky

MEPs: Arctic needs protection

polar-bear

In the European Parliament resolution, adopted by 111 votes to 8, with 1 abstention, MEPs stress that the Arctic sea ice has diminished significantly since 1981, threatening to release huge amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, while melting glaciers contribute to globally rising sea levels. The volume of sea ice present during the summer has fallen by more than 40% in 35 years, which is also causing unknown and unpredicted changes to the world ecosystem.

As some four million people live in the region, MEPs ask for more stringent safeguards in order to respect and protect the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples, and guarantee their right to participate in decision-making on natural resources’ extraction.

MEPs also want the European Commission and member states to work towards banning the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in maritime transport, through the MARPOL convention. In case this does not prove feasible, the EU should take measures to prohibit the use and carriage of HFO for vessels calling at EU ports, MEPs suggest.

“The Arctic has long been an area of constructive international cooperation and it has remained a low-tension cooperative regional order in the world. We want to keep it that way. There is a need to avoid the militarization of the Arctic. Also, the respect for international law in the Arctic is essential”, – Foreign Affairs Committee rapporteur Urmas Paet (ALDE, ET) said.

The resolution stresses the growing geopolitical importance of the Arctic region, as climate change brings new navigation and fishing routes as well as a better access to its natural resources. MEPs point out the increased “Russian military forces in the region, the building and reopening of bases and creation of an Arctic military district of Russia”.

MEPs are in favour of the Arctic to remain a “low-tension” area and stress “the important role of the Arctic Council for maintaining constructive cooperation, low tension, peace and stability” in the region. The resolution will be put to a vote by the full House on 2 March.