Peoples of the North pledge Declaration on Responsible Resource DevelopmentPublished by MAC on 2011-03-22
Source: Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC)
For once, The Economist seems to have got the measure of vital issue. On March 3rd , in an article headlined "Arctic resources - Now it's their turn": the UK magazine said:
"When in the Arctic, you should at least treat your host well.
"Much has been made about conflicts between Arctic states because of a retreating polar ice cap, which will make many natural resources accessible for the first time.
"But so far, the disputes have been of a different kind. Shell’s experience in Alaska is being repeated around the North Pole. And such clashes are bound to become even more common.
"Native groups claim much of the Arctic coast as their traditional territory —and are prepared to fight for their rights. In late February representatives of the Inuit met in Ottawa to discuss a common position on resource development in the High North."
Below, we reproduce the Statement that emerged from that conference.
Arctic: Circumpolar Inuit To Develop Declaration On Responsible Resource Development In Arctic Regions
Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Statement
25 February 2011
Inuit leaders from Greenland, Alaska, Russia, and Canada concluded a two-day Summit on Resource Development today in Ottawa. The summit was held in compliance with article 20 of the Nuuk Declaration, mandated by the delegates to the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) General Assembly held in Nuuk, Greenland June 28 - July 1, 2010.
"We have heard from numerous experts, Inuit and academics over the past two days on the issues directly related to developing resources in the Arctic," stated Inuit Circumpolar Council Chair Aqqaluk Lynge.
"The Arctic lands and waters exist in one of the earth's extreme climates, and this is a place where Inuit continue to live in a way that still depends on the wildlife from land and sea for nutritional, cultural, and economic purposes. Thus our discussions can be characterized as passionate at all levels in relation to major developments such as offshore oil drilling, and uranium mining."
"We have heard of the regulatory regimes developers must comply with in order to engage in major projects in our respective jurisdictions. Inuit want to inform these regulatory regimes and governments with a set of guidelines developed by Inuit in the circumpolar states," said Mr. Lynge. "Thus we are committing to the finalization and adoption of a "Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on Responsible Resource Development Principles in Inuit Nunaat."
Inuit leaders expressed confidence that the Declaration will be finalized imminently, and presented at the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in May 2011 in Nuuk, Greenland.
The Declaration is expected to set out a number of Inuit principles that must guide resource development in the Arctic, for example:
- Ensuring Inuit are primary beneficiaries of resource development.
- Respect for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Inuit legal rights.
- Balancing of risks and benefits of development, and ensuring development is sustainable.
- Respecting the Arctic Council's "Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Guidelines" as minimum standards.
- Support for an international mechanism for funds targeted towards liability and compensation for oil pollution damage resulting from offshore oil exploration and exploitation.
- Leaders will continue to work together and with their respective governments to aggressively address and pursue responsible resource development issues.
- Environmental and social impacts from resource development should be properly assessed.
The Summit demonstrated the unity among Inuit leaders, who are committed to work to make resource development benefit their people. The government of Greenland has kindly offered to co-host the next Summit with the Inuit Circumpolar Council.