Iqaluit to host Arctic science talk-fest next year

Arctic eggheads from around the world will invade Iqaluit next year.



IQALUIT — The Canadian government has won a bid to host the Arctic Sciences Summit in Iqaluit next year.

The week-long event next spring, from April 22-27, will bring more than 200 people to Nunavut’s capital and probably inject at least $250,000 into the local economy, said Bruce Rigby, the executive director of the Nunavut Research Institute.

The summit is organized under the auspices of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), an organization that is one of the primary science advisory bodies for the Arctic Council. It was formed in Resolute Bay in 1989 “around a pool table,” according to Rigby.

“There’s a little bit of talking up that happens,” said Rigby, describing how he and federal officials at this year’s Arctic Sciences Summit in Cambridge, England were able to win the race for hosting the 2001 meeting.

“There were a number of federal agencies that were also interested in having this come to Canada.” said Rigby, explaining that the federal government would be paying for the majority of the costs, and that the municipal government would not have to pay summit-related expenses.

Rigby said enormous interest in the new territory helped to swing the competition. The other contenders for hosting the summit were the Netherlands and Sweden, he said. The Netherlands will host the summit in 2002 while Sweden will host it in 2003.

The summit came into being so that circumpolar countries could better coordinate research and education programs and save money on travel by holding as many meetings as they can in one place at roughly the same time, said Rigby.

Organizations such as the European Polar Board, the Arctic Oceans Science Board, the Forum of Arctic Research Operators, whose members will attend the summit hold their own meetings during the week while other meetings will allow people from the different organizations to meet, make deals and try to help each other.

Other countries that conduct polar research, such as Japan, Korea, Poland, Germany and the United Kingdom, also participate in the summit, Rigby said.

Over the past two years, the summits have focused on climate change and global warming. This year Rigby says he suggesting “sustainable northern communities” as a topic.

“That would open enough doors that we could get things like IQ involved in it — looking at protocols for the introduction of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit involved in scientific research,” Rigby said.

The summits also help scientists and people from Arctic communities get to know each other, Rigby said. He said that in the evenings, summit hosts usually plan cultural events for the scientists.

“The meetings involve not only science and research people, but also frequently include delegations from circumpolar countries, and representatives of many of the circumpolar peoples,” Rigby said.

He said that an organizing committee still needs to be put together to help plan the summit. He said members of the committee could include people from Iqaluit’s municipal council, as well as members of the Canadian Arctic science community.

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