TOKYO, JAPAN – Today, at the conclusion of the Third Arctic Science Ministerial, the Biden Administration underscored the urgent need to address climate change and reaffirmed its commitment to international collaborations in Arctic research support, including by strengthening partnerships with Indigenous communities.
First organized by the United States in 2016, the Arctic Science Ministerial is an international gathering of governments to discuss the most pressing needs and opportunities in Arctic science to develop coordinated, actionable solutions.
Hosted this year by Japan and Iceland, the Ministerial focused on “Knowledge for a Sustainable Arctic,” convening eight Arctic states along with 17 further states and members of the European Union, and Arctic Indigenous leaders from six Indigenous People’s Organizations.
Together, the Ministerial committed to partnering in science and knowledge production to achieve a sustainable Arctic through the following actions:
- Observing: During the COVID-19 pandemic, existing weaknesses in ocean and coastal mapping and observation systems – which provide critical windows into sustainable solutions to combat climate change – became starkly apparent. Ministerial participants are committed to supporting better data sharing systems for improved results, including by lifting up and integrating Indigenous-led observations to foster the co-production of knowledge.
- Understanding: Rapid changes in Arctic are having a cascading socio-economic impact on the Arctic and across the globe. Recognizing this, Ministerial participants are committed to supporting improved collaboration to better our understanding and prediction capability on Arctic environmental and social systems as well as its global impact.
- Responding: A warming Arctic at two to three times greater than the national average is contributing to extreme weather and dire impacts on cultures and society. Ministerial participants are committed to taking immediate action to combat climate change by incorporating Indigenous knowledge into decision making for effective response measures, and by enhancing and applying our existing knowledge on vulnerabilities and resilience.
- Strengthening: Ministerial participants are committed to promoting capacity building, education and networking, particularly across Indigenous communities to help ensure future resilience.
Leading the U.S. delegation was White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Acting Director Kei Koizumi. Koizumi was joined by National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Sethuraman Panchanathan, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Chief Scientist Craig McLean, as well as NSF Office of Polar Programs Director Kelly Falkner and Arctic Research Commission Chair David Kennedy.
The U.S. delegation emphasized its resolve to strengthening our Arctic partnerships and to work to advance global research cooperation and collaboration to meet the challenges facing our climate and our planet for years to come:
“Facing our most pressing challenges also reveals our greatest opportunities,” said OSTP Acting Director Kei Koizumi. “Battling the global threat of climate change will take sustained, collaborative actions on behalf of all of our communities – and our Arctic partnerships have never been more critical. As we join forces to combat an Arctic warming at rates nearly three times the global average, we must ensure that our research investments benefit societies across all nations, and that we deepen our resolve to advance racial equity among Indigenous peoples and all communities. We can adapt to the ongoing changes to our environments and mitigate the future impact of climate change, but we must do it together.”
“The Arctic is in many ways the sentinel of the climate and human system changes that are in store for the entire world. NSF is committed to addressing Arctic change by identifying key questions and supporting research in a way that engages Arctic Indigenous peoples and includes new and diverse voices,” said NSF Director Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, NSF capitalized on its Rapid Response Research (RAPID) funding mechanism to ensure that data and insights regarding the health, economic and other impacts on Arctic peoples are being captured in real time and in partnership with Arctic communities. We remain committed to increasing investment in Arctic climate research and building strong partnerships with Arctic residents, local and state government, our sister agencies and internationally to achieve the speed and scale of research progress needed.”
“Climate change is driving major transformations in this region at an accelerating rate and this has consequences on weather, climate and ecosystems around the globe,” said Craig McLean, acting Chief Scientist at NOAA. “NOAA remains committed to its long-standing international role in improving our understanding of this dynamic region through expanded observations, using the latest technologies, and working with Indigenous communities, to conduct world class research that will underpin climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience while fostering marine conservation and sustainable use.”
“It was extraordinary to witness the third Arctic Science Ministerial fruitfully proceed despite the challenges that persist from the global pandemic,” said Kelly Falkner, Director of NSF’s Office of Polar Programs. “The high level of attention and commitment from science leaders from around the world bodes well for inclusively, advancing Arctic data sharing and science at this critical juncture.”
“The U.S. Arctic Research Commission is committed to International Collaboration on Arctic Research,” said Arctic Research Commission Chair David Kennedy. “As the new Chair of the Commission, I look forward to hearing other countries interests and priorities with an eye towards future collaboration topics.”