The Arctic region is warming at a rate twice the global average. Its communities and ecosystems are already facing existential threats. The receding Arctic sea ice increases the Arctic Ocean's accessibility over time, allowing economic activities such as shipping, fisheries, resource exploitation, and tourism to grow.
Ensuring a sustainable development also requires respecting the rights and needs of indigenous and local communities. Increasing the knowledge about the Arctic Ocean, its environmental challenges and local actors helps to develop nuanced solutions.
Together with the Arctic Centre (University of Lapland), the Arctic Youth Network, and the 'Changing Arctic Oceans' Programme, Ecologic Institute hosted on 25. September 2020 an interactive workshop in the framework of the EU4Ocean coalition launch event.
Practitioners gave input on their inside views on three aspects of Ocean literacy in the Arctic:
- Making science understandable (Kirsty Crocket, Science Coordinator, UKRI NERC/BMBF ‘Changing Arctic Ocean’ Programme’);
- Communicating science to a wider audience (Stefan Kirchner, Associate Professor of Arctic Law, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland); and
- Raising awareness, also involving youth in ocean governance (Pétur Halldórsson, Researcher, Arctic Youth Network).
In two breakout-groups, 30 participants with expertise in research and science communication discussed ideas for concrete Ocean Literacy initiatives in the Arctic. The groups focused on audio/visual outputs (moderated by Hanna Campen, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, and Stefan Kirchner) and educational materials (moderated by Birthe Zäncker, Marine Biological Association), also fostering networks among participants.
Some key messages here were:
- The need for interdisciplinary work to really drive ocean literacy forward: exchange between scientists (Curiosity and compassion pave the way (not only) for ocean literacy. Seemingly remote regions like the Arctic Ocean spark an undeniable fascination to people also south of the Arctic Circle. We as EU4Ocean members need to tap into this fascination while respecting the rights and needs of those already living in the region.
- Sharing and hearing personal stories of this fascination for the Arctic, including local knowledge from the region and scientific insights into the challenges there could allow to bring together even more dedicated support. Together we can co-create momentum for a more sustainable Arctic Ocean.
- Based on the discussions in the “audio/visual output” group, the development of a podcast linking the personal stories from people from the Arctic with the scientific background of changes affecting the region and its inhabitants could provide a helpful gateway to raise interest in and knowledge about the Arctic.
- The “educational materials” group gathered good practices of existing initiatives and challenges, including target audiences, the translation into languages and cultural contexts. It also recognized the need for higher education opportunities in Arctic areas. Overall, the group agreed that useful initiatives and networks exist but do not pay enough attention to the Arctic yet. Additional materials such as pre-recorded talks could feed into those networks and target various age groups. Translations/subtitles would allow to cover different languages.
Following the two breakout-groups the co-organizers are now in the process to further develop and – where possible – begin the implementation of the concrete ideas. The “audio/visual output” group is planning on conducting a test run for a podcast with about 10 topics to fine tune the format and examine potential distribution channels.
Colleagues who would like to join in can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The “educational materials” group is assessing its next steps and can be contacted at email@example.com.
You can have a look at our meeting agenda here.
Please find the workshop synthesis report here.