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What’s in the Arctic Human Development Report?

By JANE GEORGE

According to the Arctic Human Development Report, Arctic residents say the following are essential in their lives:

Controlling one’s own destiny;
Maintaining cultural identity;
Living close to nature.
And the report says “successful individuals are those who make major contributions to the well-being of their communities.”

The AHDR’s final chapter comes up with a mix of findings and recommendations for the Arctic that “deserve special attention:”

The population is sparse and unevenly distributed – half live in the Russian Arctic and most comprise just a “miniscule” percentage of their nations’ total population;
Cultures can remain viable even in the face of change – “generally, indigenous cultures are not on the way out;”
Gender roles are a concern: on average, Arctic women acquire more education than men and leave their communities more for work opportunities, while “faced with the changing nature and lowered status of subsistence hunting, Arctic men often experience a declining sense of self-worth;”
Global climate and social change threaten efforts to improve conditions and public policies can “sideswipe” communities;
Advanced technologies to address health, education and social issues are both feasible and desirable;
The Arctic is a leader in “innovative political and legal arrangements,” such as co-management and home rule, which don’t break up the larger nations.
Economies are vulnerable because they often depend on one or a few products;
o Devolution of political authority hasn’t gone hand-in-hand with more control over natural resources and it’s time to “change the rules of the game;”
There are many ways of managing resources, but no way to see which ones work best;
Indigenous peoples and public government are often at odds: “new public governments… exhibit the natural tendency of such governments to assert activities occurring in areas under their jurisdiction, without regard to how these activities relate to indigenous rights;”
National capitals need special bodies to voice Arctic concerns;
Arctic societies are “highly resilient,” but they must learn to balance tradition with new technology;
Problems such as mental health, alcohol and substance abuse, violence, accidents, diet and food security, need to be addressed;
Education must prepare students for life in the Arctic, using new technologies, distance education and local control;
Business, infrastructure, information and communications technology, and partnerships at all levels should be developed.
The AHDR says there’s a need for more information on:

People who live in the Arctic, and particularly, how indigenous peoples and “settlers” interact;
How change affects society and culture and what conditions help cultures stay alive;
The relationship between industrial and sustainable development;
New public governments and organizations.
The AHDR also says the Arctic Council should:
Translate the ADHR and produce posters and pamphlets on its findings;
Find a way to monitor human development in the Arctic;
Fill the AHDR’s gaps in knowledge;
Ensure the AHDR plays a role in plans for the International Polar Year.

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