The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
Social-ecological resilience in the Arctic depends upon ecosystems - they are the life-support system that makes resilience in the North possible. As the Arctic transforms, ecosystems are changing, and Arctic livelihoods that depend on food, water and cultural practices linked to the land are threatened by those changes. Arctic wetlands ecosystems, in particular, play a central role in these processes.
Human settlements have often been located near wetlands due to their contribution of fish, birds and animals as food sources, water storage and buffering capacity, and other benefits. Yet in some areas they were also feared, shrouded in mystery and the focus of myths of swamp creatures and places children should avoid. As the mists have lifted over the past half-century, we have learned more about wetlands’ value to people, and not least about the stunning amount of carbon that wetlands - and especially peatlands - hold in storage.
Arctic wetlands include vast expanses of peatlands, tundra and underlying permafrost and provide a range of benefits to people by supporting biodiversity and storing water and carbon. Unfortunately, they are also being damaged and degraded by human impacts that include land use, resource exploration and exploitation, and climate change.
This session describes the important role of wetlands ecosystems in supporting Arctic resilience. The session is organized around three important goals. The first is to highlight the important role of Arctic wetlands and their importance to Arctic peoples and to people at a global scale due to their enormous carbon storage and subsequent impact on climate change. A second goal is to demonstrate how a social-ecological systems perspective sheds light on actions needed to protect people via stewardship of nature. The third, pressing and practical goal of the session is to road test action/policy recommendations being jointly developed by the Conservation of Flora and Fauna Working Group and the Belmont Forum AWERRS project for the 2021 Arctic Council Ministerial.
Given the precarious status of Arctic wetlands social-ecological systems, this session seeks insights on three key questions: 1) What actions can be taken to accelerate and strengthen wetlands restoration efforts across the Arctic? 2) How can questions of responsible land-use to prevent future damage and degradation (including examples of stewardship and sustainable use) be more effectively addressed, and 3) what steps can be taken to support and strengthen community engagement and co-management approaches to Arctic wetlands stewardship, particularly indigenous co-management?