Mary Simon's report a roadmap to a better North

WWF applauds report that puts conservation in the hands of Inuit, and urges government to implement recommendations

IQALUIT, April 28, 2017 /CNW/ - Ministerial Special Representative for Arctic Leadership Mary Simon's report for a New Shared Arctic Leadership Model provides a strong way forward for conservation in the North with its emphasis on establishing Indigenous Protected Areas, funding for renewable energy and efficiency alternatives to diesel fuel, creating a network of low-impact shipping corridors, and measures to limit the impacts of climate change on wildlife, habitat and communities. Our response:

David Miller, President and CEO of WWF-Canada says:
"The vision for the North captured in this report, with a healthy, educated population participating in a truly sustainable economy on a backbone of conservation, is one that government should embrace with a robust, well-funded implementation plan. Canada's North is a place where we still have the opportunity to get it right, and this report provides the path we need to get there."

Paul Crowley, VP Arctic for WWF-Canada says:
"As a long-time citizen of the Canadian Arctic, I applaud Mary Simon's holistic approach and her recommendations. I am particularly excited by the recommendations to develop a new conservation tool for Canada's North – Indigenous Protected Areas – and her recommendation to apply this conservation designation to the Pikialasorsuaq, the most productive polynya in all of the Arctic. Mary Simon has established a roadmap that should be followed."

Highlights from the report:

On climate change:
"Throughout my travels, I heard concerns about food security in part because a warming Arctic is threatening the abundance and distribution of wildlife and safe access to many traditional inland and marine harvesting areas. The irony is that Arctic communities are highly dependent on fossil fuels. … The consequence of this dependency is a sometimes erratic supply of electricity in the communities, no options for residents and businesses to lower energy costs, higher and more complicated rates for electricity and, ultimately, conditions that stall economic development. Hydro-carbon spills during annual sea-based deliveries or from storage tanks are far too common."

On renewable energies:
"Innovation and transition will require major investments….In my view, the Government of Canada can continue to contribute positively to finding solutions for fossil fuel replacement and energy efficiencies in the Arctic by:

  1. establishing a policy platform with clear objectives, based on partnership with territorial governments and Indigenous organizations
  2. assigning funds and departmental responsibilities
  3. supporting opportunities for local businesses."

On land use planning
"Future initiatives should look for ways to work in partnership with Indigenous regions to better fund, implement and recognize areas already identified in land use plans. They should also emphasize species such as caribou, and habitats and cultural areas of vital importance to Indigenous communities."

On marine conservation:
"Marine conservation initiatives in the Arctic have not kept pace with land conservation with less than 1% of the waters of Inuit Nunangat under any form of recognized protection...  nearly all Inuit communities are situated on the Arctic coastline adjacent to marine areas of ecological and biological importance... Maintaining healthy coastal and marine habitats is critical for food security, cultural continuity and increased economic opportunities from fisheries and tourism."

On Indigenous Protected Areas
"Indigenous protected areas are based on the idea of a protected area explicitly designed to accommodate and support an Indigenous vision of a working landscape. Indigenous protected areas have the potential to serve as a platform for developing culturally-appropriate programs and hiring of Indigenous peoples in a wide range of service delivery including: 

  1. environmental and wildlife monitoring
  2. vessel management and monitoring
  3. emergency preparedness and response
  4. search and rescue
  5. tourism opportunities
  6. expanded or new guardians programs"

About World Wildlife Fund Canada
WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit wwf.ca.

SOURCE WWF-Canada

For further information: Megan Nesseth, communications specialist, mnesseth@wwfcanada.org, +1 416-904-2482

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