Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), our study on Canada's Arctic foreign policy will commence.
I want to welcome our guests who are here today as witnesses. We have David VanderZwaag, who is here as an individual but is a professor of law and Canada research chair in ocean law and governance at Dalhousie University. Welcome, David. Thank you for being here today.
We have John Crump, with GRID-Arendal, who is a senior adviser, climate change, polar centre. Welcome, John. It's nice to have you here today as well.
We have David Hik, also as an individual, who is a professor in the department of biological sciences, University of Alberta.
Via teleconference today from Edmonton, Alberta, we have Anita Dey Nuttall, who is the associate director of the Canadian Circumpolar Institute.
What I'm going to do, as we have it on the witness list, is start with you, Mr. Crump, for opening testimony.
We'll go through the opening testimonies and then we'll have time to go back and forth. I thought we'd combine because some people cancelled, so we'll do the full two hours. We'll have the testimony first, go to questions back and forth, and then we'll see how we go from there.
Mr. Crump, we'll start with you, then we'll go to Mr. Hik and Mr. VanderZwaag, and finish off with Anita Dey Nuttall via teleconference.
Mr. Crump, I'll turn the floor over to you. We look forward to your opening testimony.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. If I'd known we had more time, I would have brought my three-hour presentation. This will be mercifully shorter.
I want to say thank you to the committee for inviting me here today. By way of background, I work for a Norwegian foundation called GRID-Arendal, which is based in a very small town in Norway called Arendal. We do collaborative work with the United Nations Environment Programme. I'm in the polar centre, and we do a lot of other work dealing with the Arctic.
With regard to a bit of my background, I have been a journalist in both the north and south of Canada. I have lived in the Yukon, and a couple of my kids were born there. Most of my work in my adult life has involved northern policy issues of one form or another.
My most recent job before this was as the executive secretary of the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat, in Copenhagen. The IPS supports the permanent participants who are members of the Arctic Council.
As I said, GRID collaborates with a number of organizations and the United Nations Environment Programme. We carry the UNEP flag, so to speak, at the Arctic Council. UNEP/GRID has been an observer at the Arctic Council since its inception. Our mandate is to take science and research and turn it into material that can be useful for decision-makers of all kinds.
One of the primary connections of our work is the link between the Arctic and the rest of the planet. It's really the idea that what happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic; it has global implications. As you know, no other part of the world is warming as fast as the Arctic. This was the message in the 2004 “Arctic Climate Impact Assessment”, and it's been reinforced in literally hundreds of scientific studies since that time.
In the last couple of months, UNEP has released its annual yearbook, and in that yearbook there is a chapter reviewing the latest science dealing with the Arctic. I thought that a quick look at that would be useful to frame the discussion we're having today. It will also help to frame the chairmanship of the Arctic Council that Canada is going to be taking over in just a few months.
A few main points from the yearbook are that 2012 saw the most extensive melting of multi-year sea ice ever recorded; the region could be free of sea ice as early as the end of this decade. A study came out yesterday saying it might be 2015, which would put it at the end of Canada's chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Last summer, 97% of the Greenland ice sheet showed surface melting. This is a dramatic increase over any previous year.
Melting of snow and ice in the Arctic is accelerated by short-lived climate pollutants. Among these are black carbon or soot, which accumulates on snow and ice surfaces and absorbs heat. A reduction of black carbon would actually help slow the warming in the Arctic and have a major health benefit as well. The pollutants that are generated are thought to be responsible for the deaths of two million people around the world annually.
Earlier this month, a new study showed that climate change is triggering an increasingly green Arctic, with noticeably lusher vegetation found at more northern latitudes. Thirty years of satellite observations show the conditions today resemble those that were four degrees to six degrees of latitude further south in 1982; that's around 400 to 700 kilometres, depending on where you're measuring. Of course, habitat fragmentation, pollution, industrial development, overharvesting of wildlife, etc., are all having impacts at a regional and wider basis.
Reductions of glaciers in the region will have a major effect on sea-level rise in other parts of the world. The declining ability of the region to act as the planet's cooling system has long-term implications for weather patterns in this country and around the world, potentially today. That may be a debatable point, on a day-to-day basis.
To illustrate, GRID-Arendal is one of the lead partners in a program called Many Strong Voices, which links the Arctic and small island developing states—kind of an unlikely alliance. It was developed out of joint efforts to raise awareness about the effects of climate change in these regions, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified as among the world's most vulnerable. We have brought a bit of information about that program that we will leave with the clerk.
The main message in this program is that there is a common interest among people in far-flung regions. It recognizes that societies and livelihoods in both the Arctic and small island states are particularly vulnerable to climate change because of their close ties to land and sea environments. These regions have been barometers of environmental change. The fact that people in small island states want to work with people in the Arctic demonstrates that what happens in the Arctic really doesn't stay in the Arctic.
Canada's foreign policy cannot just look at the north; it must also see the Arctic as a key driver of global environmental change. Policy responses must take into account both domestic concerns and international obligations.
As Canada assumes the chair of the Arctic Council, it has an opportunity to take the lead on Arctic issues that have a global reach. To illustrate what I mean, I'd like to look at three areas that have already been identified as part of Canada's mandate.
Number one is support for indigenous peoples. The Arctic Council was the first international body to bring indigenous peoples' organizations to the table. In this way it actually served as a model for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. It has been discussed in many other places around the world; it's seen as a model. The permanent participants, the indigenous peoples' organizations at the Arctic Council, have repeatedly carried Arctic messages to international fora in which they work. This includes the UNEP Governing Council meeting, which took place last month in Nairobi.
The Government of Canada has signalled its interest in supporting traditional lifestyles and knowledge. Three of the permanent participant organizations at the Arctic Council are Canadian and have Canadian offices: the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the Arctic Athabaskan Council, and the Gwich'in Council International. Canada could take a lead in figuring out a way to enhance the role of these and other indigenous peoples' organizations at the Council. Ten years ago, with the support of Canada's senior Arctic official and the Icelandic Arctic Council chair, we developed a proposal that would have provided financial support for the permanent participants in an ongoing way. It wasn't much money, but unfortunately the rhetoric of support, which is often effusive, wasn't matched by any commitment. Canada now has an opportunity to encourage all Arctic states to provide the necessary sustainable funding in an ongoing way.
The second point is short-lived climate forcers or climate pollutants. Canada's Minister of the Arctic Council has said that Canada will advance work on short-lived climate forcers like black carbon. This is an important statement. While deep cuts in CO2 remain the backbone of efforts to limit the long-term consequences of climate change, as I said a moment ago, rapid reductions in emissions of short-lived climate forcers such as black carbon and methane have been identified as perhaps the most effective strategy to slow warming and melting in the Arctic over the next few decades.
Sweden, the outgoing chair of the Arctic Council, has proposed that the eight Arctic countries show global leadership and take significant measures on the reduction of black carbon. As the new chair, Canada could work with its partner nations and the permanent participants to support the adoption of strong Arctic Council measures. This would include establishing a negotiating body on a circumpolar black carbon instrument to be adopted by the next ministerial meeting. This body could be directed to consider for inclusion a number of things, including a common circumpolar vision for black carbon emissions reductions, the development of national mitigation action plans for black carbon, and procedures for reporting and consultation on national mitigation action, using the Arctic Council as a forum.
Most of the Arctic countries are members of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition that's been assembled by the United States. Canada was one of the lead countries on this. There is a precedent; there is work already happening. It's important that the Arctic Council be seen to be in the forefront of this work. Needless to say, work on black carbon needs to be done as well as, and not instead of, reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The third point is oil spill prevention. While rapid change is under way in the Arctic, the Arctic can still be a global model for sustainable development. Preventing oil spills could be part of this scenario. The January 2013 document outlining Canada's plans for its chairmanship states that an international instrument or related initiative on marine oil spill prevention is a logical next step to the Council's current work on prevention practices and the agreement that has just been negotiated on cooperation on marine oil spill preparedness and response. This agreement takes important first steps by requiring each country to maintain emergency response plans and to identify areas most important to protect for ecological reasons. However, in a January letter to the senior Arctic officials a number of organizations taking part in the Arctic NGO Forum stated, “The agreement does not commit the parties, together or individually, to increase their level of preparedness through greater investment and placement of personnel and equipment.”
The NGOs, some of which are observers at the Arctic Council, have made a number of suggestions in this letter about how the agreement could be improved, and concluded by saying they encourage the Arctic Council member states to endorse a process through which ongoing work under the agreement can continue and gaps can be filled.
So there are many ways that Canada could take the lead in strengthening the Arctic Council, and these are just three.
In conclusion, I want to say there's a really important precedent to keep in mind here. In the 1990s, Canadian data assembled through the national contaminants program, combined with the moral force of the Arctic indigenous peoples and the desire of all Arctic states to participate, contributed to the negotiation and signing of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
This was the first international environmental instrument that actually banned toxic substances and it is seen as a major precedent. This was the result of sound research and the alliance of indigenous peoples' organizations and Arctic states, something that's always possible at the Arctic Council. It led to an important step forward in global environmental governance. It's the kind of success that clearly demonstrates that what happens in the Arctic matters globally.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you all for the opportunity to meet with you this morning.
Let me begin by providing a little bit more background about my own experience. I am a professor in biological sciences at the University of Alberta. I've spent the last 30 years studying tundra ecosystems and communities, primarily in Yukon but also in Hudson Bay and the central Arctic, on Svalbard, and a few other places. I lived in Yukon for four years when I was in my twenties. I have to tell you I'd quite happily return north again if the opportunity arose, even with the winters. I've been there. They're fine.
Over the past decade I've also been very much involved in international Arctic science organizations and activities. I served for five years as the executive director of the Canadian International Polar Year secretariat and I'm currently the president of the International Arctic Science Committee. I'll talk about that in a minute. I'm the vice-chair of the Arctic Council-led initiative on sustaining Arctic observing networks. I'm also a member of the board of the Canadian Polar Commission, the polar continental shelf program, and the Arctic Institute of North America.
In these various networks, I have, I think, a fairly privileged opportunity to meet with my colleagues and researchers from across Canada and around the world.
I want to focus my remarks this morning on aspects of international Arctic scientific cooperation, not only within the Arctic Council but also the wide variety of non-governmental and governmental organizations that are engaged in various aspects of Arctic research.
So why is there so much international interest in the Arctic? Well, clearly the Arctic states have sovereignty and have responsibilities over land and much of the marine environment. There's still an international space in the central Arctic Ocean, but all Arctic states have developed Arctic strategies or statements that identify environmental protection and stewardship as priorities and there's a very interesting convergence of the language that's used in all of these documents, if you look at them as a whole, and I find that very encouraging.
Of course, from an environmental perspective, the Arctic is a commons. It's a global commons and it's influenced by global processes, some of which John has just described. Some of the most recent assessments on the cryosphere, the Arctic Council-led snow, water, ice, and permafrost assessment that was released last year, the upcoming Arctic biodiversity assessment that Canada is very much involved in through Arctic Council, the upcoming conference on Arctic Ocean acidification; these are all examples of the strong connection between global processes and what happens in the Arctic.
For example, in my own laboratory, we've been studying changes in Arctic shrubs and the relationship with snowfall. Over the last decade these tiny little Arctic shrubs have poked their heads up above the snow and the effect of that is equivalent to what we've seen in the Arctic Ocean in terms of albedo, or the darkening of the surface of the earth.
In fact, although the Arctic Ocean changes have received much more attention, in the northern hemisphere and in the Arctic and sub-Arctic region, the change on land is just as dramatic and the implications for carbon cycling and for the way that plants and animals interact with each other, the way that people can use the land, what it means for infrastructure, are happening more quickly than we had anticipated.
I think one of the emerging challenges for Canada and in fact all Arctic states is to strengthen the links between local and global processes. The consequences of these changes occur in small spaces but they're all intimately connected globally.
At the global scale, scientific cooperation is quite normal. The organization I currently chair, the International Arctic Science Committee, was created by the eight Arctic countries in 1990, but it currently has 21 member countries represented by their national polar scientific organizations, and scientists from all of those countries participate in collaborative studies of Arctic marine, terrestrial, cryosphere, atmosphere, social, and human investigations.
IASC facilitates and promotes this cooperation and collaboration, including seeking opportunities for joint funding and efficient use of resources. IASC also works very closely with other organizations involved in Arctic research. These include the International Arctic Social Sciences Association, the World Meteorological Organization, the International Council for Science, and of course, the Arctic Council.
It's interesting that Canadians either lead, or soon will lead in the next few months, all of these international organizations that I just mentioned. Perhaps there are some interesting opportunities or possibilities as a result of this coincidence of Canadians playing leading roles in a large number of these scientific and research organizations.
The recent International Polar Year, which I think you might all be familiar with in some form, was a huge success and demonstrated the value of international cooperation in the Arctic. As you know, there was a very significant Canadian investment of $150 million in IPY, and we provided significant leadership in the program. I think there were clear outcomes from this investment. New scientific knowledge and collaboration, new observations and observation networks and tools for managing data and sharing data are engaging northern residents—especially indigenous peoples and their traditional knowledge—in the scientific process and activity and training the next generation of scientists and researchers through the University of the Arctic. The Association of Polar Early Career Scientists, a new organization developed during IPY, has become a model for how to bring early-career scientists into the development of scientific programs much earlier than has happened in the past.
We're currently in the early stages of planning a new international polar initiative. This isn't just 10 more IPYs; rather, it’s a coordinated effort to secure some of the most important legacies of the International Polar Year, to seek efficiencies in the use of existing resources and facilities. Not to go and seek new funding initially, but to look at how, among the countries and agencies involved in Arctic research, we can better use resources, to discuss priorities for new investments, and to look at better linking researchers to user needs and services, like weather forecasting.
That's at the global scale. At the local scale, Arctic research must also be strongly connected. We need capacity in leadership, not just at the international and national levels, but at the local and regional levels as well. I'm very optimistic that the centre of gravity, at least in Canada, but I think around the Arctic, is moving north. In Canada, it's an outcome of land claims and devolution of federal responsibilities to the territories. For example, all three territories now have science advisers sitting in central agencies that are responsible for developing research agendas that focus investment and priorities. The northern colleges, as I know you've heard in earlier testimony, are developing a research capacity and agenda. Also, of course, community-based and local-knowledge initiatives are emerging across the north, and some of these are the outcome of the International Polar Year, like the study of the Old Crow lakes in northern Yukon.
I see value in discussing not only a federal Arctic science policy, but also how across all of Canada we can better use the resources we have—the human resources, the logistics and physical resources, and other sources of research funding.
In the United States, they've just released a five-year inter-agency research plan to guide how some of those investments might be used in the U.S. U.S. agencies have just established a new National Academy of Sciences committee to advise on research priorities for the next 10 to 20 years. I was appointed to this committee and we met in D.C. for the first time last month. In the context of the upcoming Canadian and U.S. chairs of the Arctic Council, it might be interesting to use some of these opportunities to look at how we can enhance bilateral scientific cooperation that would also, of course, strengthen our own interests.
In closing, the Arctic environment is changing very rapidly, more rapidly than we expected even a few years ago. I think the scientific consensus is that the Arctic is headed to a new state that will substantially change the north, and indeed the planet. But our understanding and our ability to respond and adapt to these changes is also evolving. I think the foundation of that is timely, robust, and relevant knowledge. If you look at Canada's northern strategy, the underlying support of the four pillars is science and technology, what once was called the “one ring that binds them all”. I'm quite optimistic that we have capacity. We just need to make sure we focus that.
We have a tremendous opportunity over the next few years to learn from what we've done in the past, and I think keep Canada at the forefront of Arctic science and technology.
Thank you for the invitation to join you today for 10 minutes of speaking fame and also, hopefully, for some discussion.
Canada and the future of the Arctic Ocean governance is the focus of my initial comments. One overarching image I think really captures where we are, and that's a sea of challenges. You as a committee, over the last number of months, have been looking at many of those challenges, but I thought it might be helpful to give you my top-10 list of what I look at as foreign policy challenges for the Arctic relating to the Arctic Ocean. I could give you 20, but I only have 10 minutes so I'll keep it to 10.
First is completing the negotiation of an effective mandatory polar shipping code. As you are all aware, since 2009, with the International Maritime Organization, there have been negotiations ongoing for the code. There's a lot of debate and battles going on over many issues. What should be the construction standards for icebreaking and ice-strengthening capabilities in the Arctic? Should the Canadian zoning system be expanded perhaps across the Arctic, where we have an entry/no entry kind of zoning system? Could that be made more broadly across the Arctic? What should be the training requirements for ice navigators in terms of classroom and practical training? And, of course, how strict should environmental discharge standards be?
If we look at the Antarctic, it's a zero discharge for oil, a zero discharge for hazardous, noxious substances, a zero discharge for garbage, except for food waste beyond 12 nautical miles from the nearest land or ice shelf. Should we move in the same direction perhaps for the Arctic? What about sewage from passenger ships? It's really a very weak standard internationally now under the MARPOL Convention, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, where you can actually dispose of raw sewage beyond 12 nautical miles under that convention.
The second challenge I would flag is addressing governance issues in the central Arctic Ocean beyond national jurisdiction. I think you're all aware of the “doughnut hole” and you've had other testimony on the central Arctic Ocean “doughnut hole” beyond national jurisdiction, an area of some 2.8 million square kilometres. As you've already heard, it's not a lawless area. You have the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention applying. It does provide freedoms of navigation, and freedom of fishing for other states like Japan, Korea, China, down the road if they so desire to exercise those freedoms, but of course they have responsibilities, such as to protect and preserve the marine environment, and to cooperate with other states in protecting the marine environment.
In my view, Arctic states do have to pay more attention, turn their minds much more to the governance of the area beyond national jurisdiction. What future do Arctic states foresee: commercialization, conservation, a mix? What about the indigenous communities around the Arctic, what's their future vision? I don't think we've really heard that yet as far as I'm aware.
What additional governance initiatives should be considered? You have a wide array in the academic literature, all the way from calling a precautionary moratorium until we have more ecosystem scientific knowledge, before we ever open up to commercial fisheries. There's been discussion perhaps of the need for a new scientific body, or perhaps an existing scientific body, to promote research in that area, and perhaps a whole new regional fisheries management organization for that area of the ocean. Personally, I don't think we're there for a regional fisheries management organization. Some of the leading scientists suggest that it will be probably quite a long time, if ever, before we get the commercial fisheries moving into the central Arctic Ocean because of low productivity, but again that's something to be aware of.
The third challenge is ensuring adequate infrastructure to support future Arctic shipping and sustainable development in the region. I might sound like a broken record, because when I read your testimony again, and again, and again, that's been hammered home to this committee, and I would just hammer it home one more time. There's the whole need for adequate charting. Less than 10% of our marine waters are adequately charted in the Arctic. There's a need for sufficient port and waste reception facilities, a need for appropriate navigational aids and communication services, a need for available icebreaking assistance, and a need for adequate pollution emergency response equipment, but also personnel. We certainly are not ready for a major incident in search and rescue in the Arctic any time soon.
Again, I just come back to John Crump's point. We have this new agreement on oil pollution response, but again it's problematic. You go through the draft, it has a real kind of cop-out clause, you might say, that countries will only implement it according to their capabilities and their relevant resources.
Again, there is a worry here about taking the paper and actually making it into a practice.
The fourth major challenge is identifying and protecting ecologically and culturally significant areas in the Arctic. This was flagged as a priority in the “Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment” in 2009 and, if we look at the Arctic, there is really rudimentary, hardly any mandatory or even voluntary vessel traffic routing in the Arctic. You can go off northern Norway. They are the leaders. They have a whole system of routing off the northern coast of Norway where the large tankers and cargo ships over 5,000 tonnes undertaking international voyage are supposed to stay 30 nautical miles off the coast in order to protect communities along the way, and they also have traffic separation schemes along the way in key areas.
Then you can go off the coast of Alaska at Prince William Sound where, again, they have traffic separation schemes going into that area, which is an important oil reception area, of course, for Alaska.
Canada, to my knowledge, has not imposed any mandatory vessel routing requirements under our legislation to date. We do have guidelines suggesting ships stay 10 nautical miles off Lancaster Sound in the fall when marine mammals are migrating through the area, but those are guidelines.
The fifth challenge, very quickly, is ensuring full ratification and implementation of international shipping and environmental agreements relevant to the Arctic. I'll give you one example. We have a ballast water convention from 2004. It's not in force, but when it is in force it is supposed to require exchange of ballast water on the high seas in deepwater areas to try to prevent the spread of invasive species. There will be phase-in of treatment technologies aboard the large cargo ships by 2016 to kill the small critters so that they don't spread around the Arctic. Only five of the Arctic states to date have ratified: Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russian Federation, and Sweden, and only 36 parties overall, representing just 29.07% of the world's shipping tonnage. We need 35% of that tonnage globally just to come into force, so we have a problem there, and there could be other conventions I could give you examples of as well.
The sixth challenge, to flag it just quickly, is considering more proactive approaches to toxic chemicals management. The Arctic monitoring and assessment programme, AMAP, working group in its 2009 Arctic pollution report flagged the fact that there may be some 4,300 organic chemicals having Arctic accumulation properties.
Under the global treaty on persistent organic pollutants, the Stockholm convention of 2001, we are only regulating and managing 22 chemicals. To me, we really need proactive approaches, and maybe, if we have time in the discussion period, I can give you some ideas on that. I don't have time in my initial comment to go into detail, but we really have to do much more on toxic chemicals management. We have not solved that issue.
Just as an aside, there are over 70 million chemicals and substances listed on the chemical abstracts service kept in the United States. These are not in commercial use, but it's a worry with regard to our chemicals management in the future.
The seventh challenge is putting the ecosystem approach into practice in the Arctic. We have lots of talk within the Arctic Council, a couple of expert groups working on ecosystem-based management, but we are a long way from putting in operation the ecosystem approach. We do not have a network of marine-protected areas in the Arctic, nor are we even close to it. We do have an international target under the convention on biological diversity to, by 2020, have such a network in various regions of the world. I'd also go on record as saying we have almost no implementation across the Arctic of integrated planning across boundaries all across the region. We don't have integrated spatial planning in any region across the Arctic.
The eighth challenge, very quickly, is solidifying the financing of the Arctic Council. Again, John Crump made reference to this, but we have not worked out the solidified funding for indigenous participation in their capacity development. There are major capacity issues as well, and, of course, even the Arctic Council projects and assessments will be largely based on ad hoc, voluntary funding. What we have worked out recently, of course, with the council is the funding of the secretariat. We have a clear formula now that has been worked out, but that is only the secretariat costs in holding meetings.
The ninth challenge is deciding whether to ban the use or carriage of heavy fuel oil on ships operating in the Arctic. In the Antarctic, of course, since August 1, 2011, there has been such a ban for the Antarctic Treaty area, to try to keep away heavy fuel oil, the cleanup of which, if it ever spilled, would cause major problems. As to whether a similar thing should happen in the Arctic, you have Norway leading a study under the auspices of the Arctic Council. Hopefully later this year they will have a report suggesting ways forward and whether we should undertake some further regulatory measures.
I think I still have one more minute. Am I close?
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for the invitation to the Canadian Circumpolar Institute at the University of Alberta to participate in this meeting. I am associate director at the institute. Very briefly, the Canadian Circumpolar Institute has a history of more than 50 years of promoting and supporting northern research at the University of Alberta. More recently, its interest has extended to the Antarctic as well.
By way of background, my academic training is in history and international relations. My research interests are focused on the science-politics interface in the polar regions.
Thank you again for the opportunity to share some views about Canada's Arctic foreign policy in the context of environmental issues. I also must thank you very much for accommodating me by phone. I would like to cover a couple of broad themes in my opening remarks. Of course, as I am the final speaker, some of the points I make will in fact reinforce points that have been made by the previous speakers.
Canada's international standing in Arctic affairs is significant. This will be highlighted when it assumes the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in May.
In addition to Canada's relations with the other Arctic states, the international dimensions of Canada's Arctic priorities need to be considered in light of Canada's relationships with non-Arctic states as well, so the first point I would like to place emphasis on would be Canada's relationship with emerging economies, such as China, South Korea, and India, in the context of sustainable development and environmental change in the Arctic.
Now, these non-Arctic states have shown interest in the Arctic for scientific reasons and also for economic reasons. As we know, they also seek observer status at the Arctic Council. China, India, and South Korea maintain research stations in Svalbard. They're also keenly interested in Arctic business and commerce opportunities, particularly in relation to extractive industries.
Furthermore, and in connection to this, the Antarctic factor cannot be overlooked in relation to these countries. As consultative parties to the Antarctic Treaty, China, India, and South Korea have long engaged in scientific research in Antarctica, and they already consider themselves to be major players in the polar regions. Canada needs to put some strategy in place to anticipate future challenges and opportunities in existing and future bilateral relations between Canada and each of these countries.
Now, there might be other discussions over trade relations between Canada and these countries, but I think this needs to be perhaps contextualized with reference to the Arctic.
One other emerging economy that is not in the same category as China or India but is closer to home, and that Canada should perhaps pay very close attention to, is Greenland. We are bordered by Greenland, and because of its connection to Denmark, this neighbour of Canada has inextricable links to the European Union states that have considerable interest in the Arctic, and they are countries with which Canada has important international relations.
Greenland is an emerging economy with a stated aim of achieving independence from Denmark. The development of oil, gas, and minerals is considered the way to become financially independent. Greenland's economic and possible political independence could have far-reaching implications for international relations between Denmark/Greenland and Canada. But such development, as well as Greenlandic emphasis on climate change research and education to equip Greenlanders with new skills in business and industry, has significance in terms of science and technology. Here, there are strong parallels between Greenland and Nunavut in Canada.
Opportunities also exist for Canada to develop strong links with Greenland in business and education. Canadian mining companies are looking to Greenland and will doubtless be more active there in the near future. In the area of education, the University of Alberta, for example, has been developing strong links with institutions in Greenland over the past several years.
An MOU between the University of Greenland, the Greenland Climate Research Centre, and the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources is currently being arranged.
I should add here that with regard to the other two countries, China and India, the University of Alberta is also building very strong links with a number of institutions in these two countries.
The second broad theme that I would like to touch upon is the need for Canada to have an overarching Arctic-northern science policy and the potential of using science diplomacy as a tool for Canada's Arctic foreign policy.
Now, articulating an Arctic-northern science policy would provide context to and frame how Canada addresses Arctic environmental issues, for example. Both the northern strategy and Canada's Arctic foreign policy emphasize the importance of science for sound policy and decision-making, for furthering international engagement, for environmental stewardship, and for energy and resource development.
Within the science-politics narrative, concern over Canadian polar science capacity and infrastructure is a perennial theme. The scientific community has remarked on many occasions that Canada needs to have a focal point for its intellectual expertise in this area. The discussion has tended to centre on coordination in research and the harmonization of budgetary planning of research and logistics.
While CHARS, the Canadian High Arctic Research Station, is seen to be that entity that will anchor a strong research presence in Canada's Arctic to serve Canada and the world, its broad mandate favouring multiple stakeholders could pose, one could argue, some challenges given the high expectations from stakeholders with competing and in some cases opposing values concerning the pursuit of science.
I would like to conclude by acknowledging the work of the eight Arctic states in reaching an agreement on search and rescue. As chair of the Arctic Council—when Canada takes on the chairmanship of Arctic Council—Canada could play a defining role in pushing forward with a polar code for the Arctic.
Within the context of Arctic governance and Canada's Arctic foreign policy, there may be virtue in thinking of an environmental protocol for the Arctic, drawing some inspiration from the environmental protocol that exists in Antarctica. While many dispute the notion that an Arctic treaty is possible or even necessary, it is still argued that new legal regimes and institutions of governance are needed for the Arctic region as a whole. An environmental protocol could set forth basic principles applicable to human activities in parts of the Arctic, and Canada could lead the way in discussion of this.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Thank you to all our witnesses today. All gave excellent overviews and concise briefs.
Chair, sometimes when we're looking at these issues—to give you a pop culture analogy—it's about whether we're looking through the lens of Star Wars or Star Trek.
I like Star Trek myself.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Paul Dewar: You know, we've sometimes heard that we should defend ourselves in the Star Wars lens of putting military might in the north, and we'll be safer. I think that's been dealt with. I think most people now—to continue on with the pop culture analogy—would look at the Star Trek approach, at how we work multilaterally together, and smartly.
I know that some in the government might not quite be there yet, but we're working on it. I also note that in doing that, you have to collaborate. I do note that every one of the witnesses today talked about that.
Again, I'm saddened we aren't hearing from our friends from Norway and other countries. We were hoping to have them as witnesses here at this table, but there was not agreement with our friends on the other side to do that.
That's what I do: I'm a politician, so I'm laying out my critique on that piece.
Now I'll move to questions for our witnesses.
I'll start with you, Mr. Crump.
By the way, you left out part of your resumé. You used to be a constituent in Ottawa Centre, I recall.