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Yacutia: Indigenous People prevent Diamond Mining in the Sacred River
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Written by Federica   
Friday, 26 June 2015 09:26

Siberian Taiga(photo: Elkwiki/commonswiki, wikipedia)Siberian Taiga(photo: Elkwiki/commonswiki, wikipedia)Evenk are an indigenous community in the republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in Russia's far east. As described by "The Red Book of the People of Russia"  "the Evenks inhabit a huge territory of the Siberian taiga from the River Ob in the west to the Okhotsk Sea in the east, and from the Arctic Ocean in the north, to Manchuria and Sakhalin in the south". 

The Association of Indigenous Peoples of Sakha Republic (Yakutia), has reported the news (in Russian) that the Evenk community has eventually managed to stop the mining company "Almazy Anbara" from starting a diamond mine on their sacred river. As reported by the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Yakutia, Yakutia's Minister of nature protection of Sakhamin Afanasyev, announced the denial of a license to the company at a parliamentary session on 16 June in Yakutsk.

Earlier this year, at a public hearing held March 23 the inhabitants of Zhilinda village in Olenek Evenki district had voted unanimously against allowing the exploration work along the the sacred river Malaya Kuonapka and its tributary Maspaky. This is the first time for indigenous peoples in Yakutia to halt the issuing of a license to an extractive industries enterprise.

Before this vote, the villagers had approved three of the planned sites and only voted against the fourth. The river is revered by the Evenks as a sacred site. Furthermore, it is their only source of clean drinking water and as an important hunting and fishing site.

(Source:The Association of Indigenous Peoples of Sakha Republic)

2015 Sea Ice Outlook - June Report now Available
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Written by Federica   
Thursday, 25 June 2015 14:18

Arctic Sea Ice. The light blue area represents summer sea-ice extent in 2013, while the dark blue the winter ice-extent in 2013. The dark pink line is the median summer ice extent 1981-2010, the light pink is the median winter ice extent 1981-2010 (map: Arctic Portal)  Arctic Sea Ice. The light blue area represents summer sea-ice extent in 2013, while the dark blue the winter ice-extent in 2013. The dark pink line is the median summer ice extent 1981-2010, the light pink is the median winter ice extent 1981-2010 (map: Arctic Portal) The 2015 Sea Ice Outlook June Report is now available online. This June Outlook report was developed by lead authors, Cecilia Bitz (UW), Ed Blanchard-Wrigglesworth (UW), and Jim Overland (NOAA), with contributions from the rest of the SIPN leadership team, and with a section analyzing the model contributions by François Massonnet, Université catholique de Louvain and Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences.

The median Outlook value for September 2015 sea ice extent is 5.0 million square kilometers with quartiles of 4.4 and 5.2 million square kilometers. Contributions are based on a range of methods: statistical, numerical models, estimates based on trends, and subjective information. We have a large spread in the Outlook contributions, which is not surprising given the wide-ranging observed values for the September extent in the past few years. The overall range (excluding an extreme outlier) is 3.3 to 5.7 million square kilometers. The median Outlook value is up from 4.7 million square kilometers in 2014. These values compare to observed values of 4.3 million square kilometers in 2007, 4.6 million square kilometers in 2011, 3.6 million square kilometers in 2012 and 5.3 million square kilometers in 2014.

A discussion of 11 dynamical model contributions shows that the variance among the individual outlooks is substantially less than last year and as a whole, dynamic models predict a larger September sea ice extent with less spread than for 2014. A section on regional predictions includes discussion on predictions for sea ice probability (SIP), showing that higher SIP is predicted in 2015 than in 2014 in the Beaufort and East Greenland seas, while smaller SIP is predicted along the East Siberian and Kara Seas. Finally, a section on current conditions includes discussion of this spring's rate of decline of ice extent, a comparison of sea ice thickness products, and atmospheric conditions.


Read the full report here

Arctic Cooperation, the view of the UArctic's President Lars Kullerud
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Written by Federica   
Tuesday, 23 June 2015 09:57

Lars Kullerud, President of UArctic (photo: Facebook)Lars Kullerud, President of UArctic(photo: Facebook)Today we share the letter by the UArctic's President, Lars Kullerud, on the foremost importance to maintain cooperation and keep an open dialogue in Arctic. As the UArctic's President point out, despite the current geopolitical insucurity worldwide is affecting somehow also the Arctic region, the Arctic states have both the resources and instruments for cooperation, and their peoples have the will. The letter reported here was publish on "Shared Voices Magazine 2015", an annual publication by the UArctic, available for the public online here.

What everybody can be absolutely certain of is the Soviet Union's profound and certain interest in preventing the North of the planet, its Polar and sub-Polar regions and all Northern countries from ever again becoming an arena of war, and in forming there a genuine zone of peace and fruitful cooperation. (Mikhail Gorbachev, "Murmansk Initiative Speech", Oct 1, 1987)

The foundations of the current framework of international cooperation in the Arctic – perhaps most clearly manifested in the Arctic Council and other circumpolar organizations like the University of the Arctic (UArctic) – can be traced to a speech by then Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in Murmansk in 1987. In his speech, Gorbachev called for the Arctic to be established as an international 'zone of peace' and called on the Arctic states and other regional actors to cooperate on issues of scientific research and environmental protection. This call was taken up through the Rovaniemi Process in 1991 that established the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, which in turn resulted in the creation of the Arctic Council in 1996. The International Arctic Science Committee was created in 1990 as part of the same process. UArctic, founded in 2001, and the Arctic Economic Council, founded in 2014, were both established on the initiative of the Arctic Council to complement its functions.

Those of us engaged in international cooperation in the Arctic have now enjoyed 25 years of active collaboration with our Russian colleagues and friends – a situation we now consider completely normal, but that was extremely rare during the Cold War. The region and the world as a whole have benefited from this cooperation as evidenced in the drive behind the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the focus on the role of the Arctic in global climate change, the unique position of indigenous peoples in the Arctic Council, regional demilitarization, coastal state cooperation through the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and joint ambitions for the safe and fair transportation and resource utilization.

The Arctic states have both the resources and instruments for cooperation, and their peoples have the will. The wise stewardship of the North will benefit not just the Arctic but the whole world, and we can also be an important inspiration to others globally. This is particularly the case now, at a time when humankind needs to find a new way forward for future generations and the healthy stewardship of this unique planet.

Even as geopolitical insecurity elsewhere in the world creates tensions that influence the Arctic, we have continued with 'business as usual'– not because we are ignorant of threats to cooperation, but precisely because of them. Our best way to ensure mutual understanding and focus on common interests is to maintain cooperation and keep an open dialogue. Through UArctic we have strived to create a common Arctic region and circumpolar identity among researchers, students and leaders. We will work with business and regional and national governments to ensure that the generation leading the Arctic in 2030 does not have to start over, but can continue on a platform of mutual understanding and partnership.

(Source: UArctic)

EU-Arctic Consultation Workshop in Reykjavik
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Written by Federica   
Monday, 22 June 2015 11:25

Road in Iceland (photo:Halldór Jóhannsson)Road in Iceland (photo:Halldór Jóhannsson)Wednesday 24th of June 2015, the European Commission will host in Reykjavik the third stakeholder workshop on  further development of the EU's Arctic policy.
In the latest "Council conclusions on developing a European Union Policy towards the Arctic Region", released in December 2014, the Council requested "the Commission and the High Representative to present proposals for the further development of an integrated and coherent Arctic Policy by December 2015. As part of this exercise, the Council encourages the Commission to ensure effective synergies between the various EU funding instruments in the Arctic region. "
The EU has been developing an EU Arctic Policy, not yet in place, since October 2008, when the European Parliament first released a "resolution on Arctic Governance". Since then, there have been released 3 Parliamentarian resolution, 2 European commission communication, and the Council conclusions ( you can read more here)
The developing EU Arctic Policy is built on three main policy objectives:

  • protecting and preserving the Arctic in cooperation with the people who live there
  • promoting sustainable use of resources
  • international cooperation.

Which will be achieved by:

  • supporting research and channelling knowledge to address environmental and climate change in the Arctic
  • acting responsibly to help ensure that economic development in the Arctic is based on sustainable use of resources and environmental expertise
  • stepping up constructive engagement and dialogue with Arctic states, indigenous peoples and other partners

A comprehensive overview of EU's role in the Arctic, inclusive of an overview of the historical development of an EU Arctic Policy,can be found at, a website developed within the EU-founded project „Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of Development of the Arctic". 

The workshop that will be held on Wednesday 24th in Reykjavik, is in line with the council request to ensure effective synergies between the various EU funding instruments in the Arctic region", in order to present to present proposals for the further development.
Here is the text of the invitation: 

The European Commission is pleased to invite you to the third stakeholder workshop on the further development of the EU's Arctic policy that will take place on 24 June 2015 in Reykjavik, at the Fosshotel. It will bring together key stakeholders from business, academia and the public sector to discuss fishing, maritime safety, shipping and tourism in the Arctic. This event is part of a series of three workshops: the first one took place in Rovaniemi on 29 April and the second one in Oslo on 27 May.

Topics: fishing, maritime safety, shipping and tourism in the Arctic

Steinar Martin Paulsen 04.06.2015 10:41 (Sist oppdatert: 04.06.2015 10:52)

The workshops follow from a public consultation on "Streamlining EU funding in the European Arctic" in order to identify the main challenges and common investment priorities for the European Arctic. Based on its results, the European Commission is organising a series of workshops to further explore the main issues brought forward by stakeholders. The replies to the consultation can be found here.

Topics: fishing, maritime safety, shipping and tourism in the Arctic

8.15-8.45 Registration and coffee
8.45-9.00 Welcome by the Icelandic Government
Opening by the European Commission
9.00-10.30 SESSION 1: Arctic fishing
Erik J. Molenaar, Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea
MP Vilhjálmur Bjarnason, Vice-Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee
10.30-11.00 Coffee Break
11.00-12.30 SESSION 2: Maritime safety and security in the Arctic

Andreas Østhagen, Director of the Arctic Institute
Mika Mered, Managing Partner Polarisk
12.30-13.30 Lunch Break
13.30-14.45 SESSION 3: Arctic shipping
Michael Kingston, Partner at DWF
Tianbing Huang, Senior Technical Officer in charge of Polar Code, IMO
14.45-15.15 Coffee Break
15.15-16.30 SESSION 4: Tourism as an economic growth sector in the Arctic
Annika Fredriksson, Swedish Lapland
16.30-17.00 Closing


You can register here



Iceland celebrates today 100 anniversary of Women’s suffrage
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Written by Federica   
Friday, 19 June 2015 12:15

Bríet Bjarnhéðinsdóttir,(September 27, 1856 – March 16, 1940)an early Icelandic advocate for women's liberation and women's suffrage(photo: Óðinn, May 1908, reported by, 19th of June 2015, Iceland celebrates the 100th anniversary of women’ rights to vote, accorded to women over the age of 40 in 1915 (at this time men were allowed to vote by the age of 25). “It’s important that we honor the work that women put in to gain the right to vote a 100 years ago,” said Auður Styrkársdóttir, Director of Iceland’s Women’s History Archives in an interview with the Reykjavik Grapevine,  “And it’s important to remember that the rights that we take for granted now, were not a given once upon a time. The right of women to vote is still not a given today. There are still countries that don’t grant women the right to vote and history shows us that women always need to be vigilant. It’s easy to take away people’s rights.” Indeed, while Iceland accorded women with the right to vote about in the same time of most of the Arctic Countries countries, first was Finland in 1906, followed by Norway, 1913, Denkmark,1915, Canada and Russian Federation, 1917, Sweden, 1919, USA, 1920, other countries, as for instance Switzerland, accorded these rights as late as 1971 (but it was only in 1990 when the Canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden was forced by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland to accept women's suffrage), while there are still countries not allowing it, as for instance Brunei.

As in most cases, Icelandic women’s rights to vote has been a gradual process (that is also the reason why dates celebrating women’ suffrage may differ for the same country).

In Iceland, which at time was under the Danish Kingdom, first were the tax-payers and land owners men to receive the right to vote in 1845, followed by tax-payers unmarried or widow women not belonging to the working class in 1882.

All women (therefore also the married ones) in Iceland started voting for local elections: Reykajvik and Hafnafjörður started as soon as 1908, followed by the whole country in 1910. Eventually, in 1913 the Parliament agreed on a bill, which became law in 1915 when the Danish king ratified it, where the right to vote was accorded women over the age of 40. The peculiar decision –nowhere else in the world this age limit has been set ---was due to concern of the Parliamentarians to lose practically all power over national affairs:

 “The majority of the committee has agreed to adhere to the franchise articles of the bill of 1911, but with the alteration that the new voters are not all admitted at once, but gradually, so that after 15 years the franchise to the lower house will be as described in the bill. The majority of the committee regards it as hazardous to increase the numbers so greatly at a stroke, that the present electorate will lose practically all power over national affairs.” (Alþingistíðindi 1913, A-hluti: 933).

In 1920 the age limit for women was lifted following an agreement between Denmark and Iceland.

Today, this day is celebrate with several initiatives across the whole country. To name but one, most of the Icelandic companies will give women half day off (from 13:00h).  

Read more on , Icelandic Roots, and Kvennasogusafn.

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