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Perspectives on public Arctic policies
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Tuesday, 04 December 2012 14:51

The Arctic sea ice (Photo: GettyImages) The Arctic sea ice (Photo: GettyImages)The first International Conference on Public Policy will be held in France in the summer of 2013. It is calling for abstracts for this interesting conference entitled Perspectives on public policies in the Arctic region.

The conference website states that "developments in the Arctic have mostly been studied through defense studies, international relations, geopolitics, and to a lesser extent, economics. Public policies of Arctic states in the High North have attracted far less attention, with the exception of indigenous peoples rights."

The conference will run from the 26th of June until the 28th in Grenoble, France.

The conference will see a panel analyzing and discussing these topics:

1. To what extent climate change and the economic prospects in the Arctic have changed public policies

2. To what extent public policies are limiting or motivating economic development, through legislation, infrastructure development, direct or indirect subsidization, particularly in the mining and hydrocarbon sector and in transport (shipping)

3. The capacity to act by the elected representatives at the local level, and to analyze to what extent citizens and communities are engaged in the development of public policies

4. How conflicting interests between economic sectors are considered (e.g. tourism versus mining, petroleum activities versus fisheries and traditional subsistence)

5. How social cohesion between various categories of the population (indigenous/non indigenous, permanent/transient) appears as an issue in current public policies

6. If public policies are shaped by regional frameworks of cooperation and international agreements and norms

7. How Arctic policy making can be seen as an imaginary and symbolic construction.


The abstracts are to be delivered by the 1st of February 2013. Comparative approaches of public policies in the Arctic are particularly welcome. To propose a paper an abstract of approximately 300 word should be sent directly to the chair of the panel, Cécile Pelaudeix (e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

Website of the conference. 

 
Two working groups, one aim
Shipping News
Written by Magdalena Tomasik   
Tuesday, 04 December 2012 09:39


(Map: Arctic Portal) Click on the picture to access the Interactive Data Map(Map: Arctic Portal) Click on the picture to access the Interactive Data MapToday, the 4th of December, Arctic Transportation Infrastructure Response and Capacity and Sustainable Development in the Arctic workshop brings together aviation and maritime specialists from eight Arctic states in order to discuss gaps in infrastructure around the remote Arctic.

 

Two separated groups, during two hours sessions try to create terms that are going to be used internationally in future AMATII database. What is more, maritime and aviation working groups try to find the answer on what legal, regulatory and fiscal mechanisms facilitate inter-modal infrastructure investment.

 

Mrs Sarah Barton, facilitator for maritime working group and Mr James Hemsath for the aviation will review and summarize team's efforts in order to communicate the outcome to international and regional policy makers.

 

Later today, participants will have a chance to view and evaluate the Arctic Port and Airport Database and web-based interactive map, which is the primary deliverable of this project. Subject matter expert input will help refine and strengthen this tool.

 

The workshop will end with an interactive plenary session, discussing next steps and outlining areas of consideration for a Guidance Document, a deliverable for this Arctic Council project.

 

The Conference will continue daily until Thursday. Please click here to see the conference program.

 

 

 

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{mosmap address='Reykjavik, Iceland'|zoom='2'|}

 
From everywhere but Antarctica!
Features
Tuesday, 04 December 2012 08:35

From a field trip to Dynjandi, the students took last year (Photo: University Center of the Westfjords) From a field trip to Dynjandi, the students took last year (Photo: University Center of the Westfjords)A master's program in Coastal and Marine management on the Western tip of Iceland sees students from all over the world engaging in Arctic studying. The University Center of the Westfjords hosts the program which is described as a cross-disciplinary program that prepares students for diverse positions in both the public and private sectors.
 

Among courses thought are Iceland's Environment and Natural Resources, Understanding the Coast and the Ocean, Underwater Heritage, Aquaculture and Marine Renewable Energy. See list of courses here


The University of Akureyri cooperates with the studies, UNAK has specialized in fisheries science and related matters for many years.


The program at the University Centre of the Westfjords has been running since 2008. Before the program started it sought recognition and quality control from the University of Akureyri which in the end is responsible for the diploma. The fifth years started this fall but in total 40 students have graduated, the first ones in 2010.


The website also states: "Among the fields which the master's program in Coastal and Marine Management prepares students to work in are resource and land use planning, environmental impact assessment, consulting work, teaching and research. The program is internationally oriented and taught in English, and both students and instructors come from a diverse range of countries.


The master's program in Coastal and Marine Management brings together people of different backgrounds who share their experience, knowledge, and ideas in a small-scale, creative and fertile intellectual environment, with the goal of finding ways of using natural resources in a sustainable way. We welcome new faces to join our exciting group of natural resource management specialists."


A total of 92 have started the studies, 40 graduated and 46 are currently studying. Only a few have have abandoned the studies. "The students love their graduation day; they have a whole fjord for themselves!" Dagný Arnarsdóttir, the Program director, told BB, a local newspaper. The graduation is held in Hrafnseyri in Arnarfjordur, famous for the waterfall Dynjandi.


Field trip (Photo: University Center of the Westfjords)According to program manager Ingi Björn Guðnason the program has used social media for advertisement to reach the right people. "We have used Google and Facebook ads to lead people to our website which has detailed information about the program. We have also used specialized websites for advertisement which show different programs for students who want to travel to study. Later we have been lucky that the word has simply spread out about the program which we can thank both the students who have a good experience from here and the teachers as well. They have helped advertising the studies in numerous ways. That is probably the most effective advertisement, positive feedback from the students who talk to their friends about it. This positive feedback has allowed us to cut back on advertisement costs which were running high in the beginning."


Ingi says that visits to the University Centers website have increased greatly after this program was founded. They have grown greatly and can reach 700 per day, but in total it has 95.000 visits for the last year.


Structure

The program has three semesters, fall, spring and summer, which runs from April to July. Next is a thesis but students need to post a detailed description of their intended study for acceptance of a concession committee. "This year we will have a specialized workshop for the thesis and the result is a thesis question. Most students are graduated within two years but if they want they can leave after the courses, which take 18 months," Dagný says.
 

Each course is thought in a session, ranging from 2 to 8 weeks. They include lectures and individual and group projects. "We also try to use new technology as much as we can. Tests in a class room can be necessary in some countries, but how knowledge is measured and assessed, can differ greatly. We try to offer real project in the field when we can. We also use role-play for example to discuss different aspects to subjects from different groups. I see different kinds of valuations for the Universities in the future. A new generation is coming up of both teachers and students are coming up and the schools will have to adjust."


Westfjords the focal point

The location of the program is unique, in the West of Iceland, which has some of the most prosperous fisheries in the country, and breathtaking landscape. "We encourage students to do their projects about the area here and the result is that two out of three have written or done material about the Westfjords or its fisheries. Students have a reputation of wanting to give something back to the society here and by filling in gaps of knowledge about anything related to the studies, they do so, for example writing about sustainable coastal areas or exploitation and protection of the oceans and the coast. The students often have close cooperation with organizations and companies for their thesis work."


Puffins are everywhere in the Westfjords (Photo: University Center of the Westfjords) Puffins are everywhere in the Westfjords (Photo: University Center of the Westfjords)Many nationalities

"We get applications from all over the world but we have to limit the students to their capabilities with first grade or higher, their language skills (for example the TOEFL test) and if we can be assured that their material is authentic. Over the years most students have come from Canada but it's getting more international and more Europeans have come in over the last two years. We have representatives from every continent now except for Antarctica!"
 

"The students choose their projects in a number of manners, Icelanders tend to write a little bit more about Icelandic related projects, but international students do the same, they also write about Icelandic projects."


Diversity in teachers

Since the program has very little structure, no permanent staff for example, the knowledge has to be sought from diverse backgrounds. Getting teachers and instructors over the years has run smoothly and they are both Icelandic and international. "This is a real sign of quality for us. We have very high standards and have specific goals to keep, and this shows quickly in the Icelandic university environment." List of teachers and instructors can be seen here.
 

"After the studies the students have either continued to study, either doing PhD studies and other masters programs. Most often the students go to their homes for jobs related to the studies. Many of them have excellent jobs, a few work in project management, some are specialists in ministries, some in aqua centers or national parks. One runs the biggest national park in Canada, one has built a national Park in East Congo under very hard circumstances. And our students have kept in touch with the Westfjords and will be back with their families at some point! They help us in promoting the area, and Iceland."


Future prospect

"The future will see the University Center promote the knowledge even better than before, for example by translation projects to Icelandic. Another aim is to maintaining the knowledge in the studies with the institutions in Iceland," Dagný says.

 

LOCATION

{mosmap address='Isafjordur, Iceland'|zoom='2'|}

 
Norway takes part in exploration in Iceland
Energy News
Monday, 03 December 2012 13:44

The Dreki area is to the north-east of Iceland (Map: Drekiarea.is) The Dreki area is to the north-east of Iceland (Map: Drekiarea.is)The National Energy Authority of Iceland (NEA) has today finished processing two applications for licences for exploration and production of hydrocarbons in the Dreki Area. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in Norway has today, 3 December 2012, notified NEA of their decision to participate in both licences to a 25 % share in accordance with the agreement between Iceland and Norway.
 

NEA sought the opinions of the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture in accordance with the hydrocarbons act and evaluated the opinions based on the applications and the work programmes involved.

Furthermore, NEA made a careful evaluation of the technical and geological capacity of the applicants to handle the extensive activities associated with the licence. Finally, NEA studied the financial capacity of the parent companies of the applicants in order to ensure that the applicants have sufficient financial strength to conduct the activities for the long-term and can handle the corresponding environmental and safety elements.


Following the processing of NEA of the applications 

Blue: Valiant Petroleum ehf. and Kolvetni ehf.  Red: Faroe Petroleum Norge AS, Branch in Iceland and Iceland Petroleum ehf. Click to enlarge. Photo by NEA. Blue: Valiant Petroleum ehf. and Kolvetni ehf. Red: Faroe Petroleum Norge AS, Branch in Iceland and Iceland Petroleum ehf. Click to enlarge. Photo by NEA,

at the end of October, NEA made a decision to grant licences to Faroe Petroleum Norge AS, Branch in Iceland and Iceland Petroleum ehf., on the one hand, and Valiant Petroleum ehf. and Kolvetni ehf., on the other.


Furthermore, the Norwegian authorities were notified of the decision, draft licences sent for their perusal and a formal answer requested on whether they intended to participate in the licences in accordance with the agreement between Iceland and Norway from 1981, which entails the right of Norway to participate in licences within the area of the agreement up to a 25 % share.


The anticipated licensees have read the draft licences and submitted their comments, which NEA has taken into account as has been agreed by the parties involved. Norway has also participated in this process through the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, i.e. gone through the draft licences and submitted comments to NEA.


The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in Norway has today, 3 December 2012, notified NEA of Norway's decision to participate in both licences to a 25 % share in accordance with the agreement between Iceland and Norway.
 

The licences cannot by issued before the Norwegian Parliament has approved the decision on the participation by the Kingdom of Norway through the State-owned oil company Petoro AS. Following this and the signing of the parties to the licences of their joint operating agreements, NEA will grant the licences, probably in the beginning of January of next year.


A third application was received from Eykon Energy ehf. The processing of this application was delayed and the applicant given a respite until 1 May 2013 to find an additional participant in the licence that receives approval by NEA on having sufficient expertise, experience and capacity to undertake the licenced activities. NEA will take the application for final processing subsequent to receiving information on such a new participant in the application.
 

LOCATION

{mosmap address='Akureyri, Iceland'|zoom='2'|}

 
AMATII Workshop starts today
Shipping News
Written by Magdalena Tomasik   
Monday, 03 December 2012 11:17

(Logo: AMATII)(Logo: AMATII)

Monday, 3rd of December 2012 the workshop on Arctic Transportation Infrastructure Response and Capacity and Sustainable Development in the Arctic starts today in Hotel Natura in the capital city of Iceland – Reykjavik.

 

The registration opens at 14.00 after which the small group brainstorming and crowd sourcing of definitions and terminology will take place.

 

Arctic experts will meet in both plenary and work sessions to discuss infrastructure vis-à-vis response, technology and investment. Case studies and illustrative stories of northern aviation and marine infrastructure - contributed by participants – will serve to highlight the challenges of infrastructure development in the Arctic and its role in facilitating sustainable development.

 

Participants will also have a chance to view and evaluate the Arctic Port and Airport Database and web-based map, which is the primary deliverable of this project. Subject matter expert input will help refine and strengthen this tool.

 

The workshop will end with an interactive plenary session, discussing next steps and outlining areas of consideration for a Guidance Document, a deliverable for this Arctic Council project.

 

To read more about the conference and subscribe to the event, please click here. To browse the conference agenda, please access here. Information about workshop logistics, such as hotel and transportation are available here.

 

Please, follow the links to read about the Arctic shipping and aviation challenges on the Arctic Portal Shipping Portlet.

 

LOCATION

{mosmap address='Reykjavik, Iceland'|zoom='2'|}

 
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