On April 11, 2016, the “People and Community in the Arctic” project, which is one of the sub-projects of the Arctic Challenge for Sustainability (ArCS) co-hosted a joint workshop on “Challenges for a Sustainable Arctic” with the University of Victoria, Canada. The objectives of the workshop were: (1) to foster the exchange of expertise on Arctic issues; and (2) to lay the groundwork for Japan to positively contribute to the challenges provided by the Arctic in both the social sciences and natural sciences.
The workshop brought experts from Canada and Japan to discuss various approaches to the Arctic. The first session titled “Social Sciences Approach to the Arctic” invited Heather Nicol (Trent University) who presented on the Canadian view on the Arctic and land claim policies, Fujio Ohnishi (Nihon University) who presented on Japan’s policy toward the Arctic, Gail Fondahl (University of Northern British Columbia) who presented on Arctic Social Sciences research around the world, and Ted Boyle (Kyushu University) who presented on Arctic Borders in Asia. The second session titled “Natural Sciences Approach to the Arctic” invited Terry Prowse (University of Victoria) who presented on the Arctic freshwater synthesis and Yuuki Watanabe (National Institute of Polar Research) on biological diversity research in Japan.
In the general discussion, panelists discussed ways in which we can incorporate both the natural and social sciences in Arctic research. Some of the ideas explored include: promote research projects from an interdisciplinary perspectives (bottom-up), pressure agencies, include interdisciplinarity at the research question, define a particular theme (i.e. special report on climate and water) and frame it, find implications for new sciences where social sciences can find a tipping point, go to the community (field work), find a neutral ground such as policy administration, facilitate meetings, formulate science question based on the community and produce proper policy papers.
The workshop marked a great start to further cooperation in facing the challenges for a sustainable Arctic by not only bridging the natural and social sciences but also facilitating cooperation between Canada and Japan.
Dr. Naomi Chi
(Graduate School of Public Policy, Hokkaido University / a member of theme 7)