In the Arctic, climate change is transforming the region, dramatically altering landscapes, changing ecosystems, and creating new risks and opportunities for the people living in the region. The Indigenous people who call the Arctic home have taken on a leadership role in addressing the transformations that are happening around them. 

Indigenous people have lived in their homelands for generations. Indigenous knowledge and understanding of these lands are valuable and will be critical to advancing resilience. Professor James J. McCarthy recognized this, and years ago brought a group of reindeer-herders to Harvard to better understand how their Indigenous knowledge could contribute to and be elevated in the global climate dialogue. 

Now in honor of this initial collaboration, Harvard Kennedy School’s Arctic Initiative has collaborated with the Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH), the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR), Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples Secretariat and the UArctic EALÁT Institute to co-create a workshop for Indigenous youth leaders to connect them across the circumpolar Arctic to build the confidence, competence and courage to step further into leadership as the Arctic transforms.

Over the past five days over thirty Indigenous Youth from around the circumpolar Arctic have worked together, learned together, and innovated together to come up with solutions to challenges facing their communities. Join us to see the final presentations of a few of these young leaders. 

The session will begin with an overview of the remarkable leadership and scientific contributions of Professor McCarthy, internationally and in the Arctic and, most particularly, with the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic. By Professor PhD Robert Corell, Professor PhD Svein D Mathiesen of University of the Arctic EALÁT Institute, and Secretary General Anders Oskal of the Association of World Reindeer Herders. 

James J. McCarthy (January 25, 1944 - December 11, 2019) was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, and former Master of Pforzheimer House. He was a Head Tutor for degrees in environmental studies and public policy. He was also Acting Curator of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment, and had a central role in the founding of the Harvard University Center for the Environment. He contributed significantly to IPCC and the Arctic Council Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), where he also worked directly with Arctic Indigenous peoples. Professor McCarthy also served as the President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and had a leadership role in the Union of Concerned Scientists.