By Erica Dingman
The Arctic's indigenous peoples are highly vulnerable to ecological change. In a region that is warming at twice the rate of any other global location, permafrost melt, unpredictable weather conditions, and pollutants created elsewhere affect the daily lives of those that live there. This is but an example of a whole host of issues that the peoples of the Far North are challenged by, in a region gazed upon by actors worldwide as an area of increasing interest. To enhance a broader understanding of Arctic complexity, as seen through the lens of the Arctic Council’s Permanent Participants, a cloud-based platform called Debategraph is presented here.
Established in 1996, the Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum created to provide a means of promoting cooperation and coordination among the Arctic states – Canada, Denmark via Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States – with the active involvement of the Arctic's indigenous peoples represented by the six Permanent Participants. As outlined in the Council’s founding document, the Ottawa Declaration of 1996 states: “The category of Permanent Participation is created to provide for active participation and full consolation with the Arctic indigenous representatives within the Arctic Council.”
The Arctic Council Permanent Participants’ Debategraph is an interactive platform designed to encourage others to question and deliberate on the topic at hand, in this case perspectives held by the Permanent Participants. Beyond engaging those who are deeply involved in Arctic issues, it is meant to inspire the public, policy-makers, and decision-makers to think of the Arctic's indigenous peoples as active participants in changing Arctic conditions, and to encourage engagement at the earliest stages of the decision-making process.
This Debategraph is the result of a Working Group project, called Arctic Communities, and was created for Ecologic Institute's Arctic Summer College 2014. The group members include the following fellows: Linda Jabs in Canada; Niko Niemisalo in Finland; Dayanita Ramesh in the U.S.; Dorothea Wehrmann located in Germany; and myself, Erica Dingman, in the U.S. You can read each fellows remarks on the Debategraph. However, the views expressed in this introductory article are mine alone. Technology facilitated our fruitful cross-border engagement, and I encourage you to explore this innovative technology as a means of gaining a better understanding of Arctic's indigenous peoples participation with Arctic issues. You can click through the bubbles drilling further into the subject matter. Please join the community by visiting the Arctic Council Permanent Participants’ Debategraph.
Erica Dingman is an associate fellow of World Policy Institute, as well as researcher and writer whose work focuses on a broad spectrum of issues facing the Arctic today.