IASC 25 years - Page 16

by Odd Rogne Arctic vs. Non-Arctic Interests Why polar research? In the early 1950s, Arctic science was dominated by thematic mapping and research serving domes- « The Arctic countries, having needs for data and tic needs simply because the broader interest was information for the management of their Arctic limited and resources (including logistics) were con- areas, have a broader interest in Arctic research trolled by national agencies. However, as logistical than non-Arctic countries. Whereas non-Arctic opportunities improved and the Arctic attracted countries focus their Arctic research on global issu- attention as a scientific laboratory, basic science in- es, the Arctic countries have to cover a wide range terests started to grow both inside and outside the of science-based data and information for the ma- Arctic countries. nagement of their Arctic area. This management involves answering three basic questions: What?, Nevertheless, an important barrier – the Cold War – Where?, and Why? The two first questions are meant limited (or no access) to some Arctic areas. answered by thematic mapping, usually underta- This ‘sensitivity fear’ continued to linger for most ken by specialized, national agencies. The `Why´ of the last century. In addition, there was growing is answered by drawing on basic research inside or awareness of Arctic resources and the suspicion outside the agency. Examples of this type of the- that non-Arctic countries were after these resourc- matic mapping/research are: management of na- es under the guise of Arctic science. ture (wildlife, fish resources), industrial activities (resource management, industrial threats to na- Full control of their own Arctic territory was a man- ture—such as pollution). In other areas of research, tra for some Arctic countries, and a challenge that in particular those related to humans and social multinational research projects had to face (military issues, scientists from Arctic countries dominate. sensitivity, perceived threats to sovereignty, etc. were a part of it). Planning an IASC under these con- Scientists from non-Arctic countries mainly focus ditions was not easy, and required understanding on global issues that are of prime concern to their and respect for the challenges faced by the repre- home country; for example, climate change. Global sentatives of the various countries. issues are also of interest to Arctic scientists and countries, and so this forms the logical basis for It was a strong wish by some countries to have some ‘governmental control’ of the potential new circumarctic research cooperation. In the RRT report to the Stockholm meeting, it was suggested that this need could be met by an ‘Intergovernmental Forum on Arctic Science Issues.’ ‘Governmental control’ is not popular with ‘free science,’ a dilemma that caused numerous discussions by the IASC Planning Group. 15 00 01 Development of 02 IASC Initiatives IASC Arctic/non-Arctic cooperation. »