GAPS: The Impacts of Oil and Gas Activity on Peoples in the Arctic Using a Multiple Securities Perspective
Human-induced climate change is undermining the ecosystem upon which the Inuit of Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Russia depend for their physical and cultural survival. Climate change in the Arctic is not just an environmental issue with unwelcome economic consequences. It is also a matter of livelihood, food and individual and cultural survival. In short it is a “human security” issue.
– Shirley Wolff Serafini, former Canadian Ambassador to Norway (3 May 2004)
Over centuries, Arctic peoples have learned to adapt and thrive in an uncertain, harsh environment. Presently, change is occurring in the Arctic at an unprecedented rate, placing great pressure on local peoples’ capacity to cope. Such change puts immense strain on the many factors that are necessary for human well-being in the Arctic. These include the health of the environment, the supply of traditional foods, community health, economic opportunities, and political stability. For the purposes of this project, human security is achieved when individuals and communities have the freedom to identify risks and threats to their well-being and the capacity to determine ways to end, mitigate or adapt to those risks and threats. (UNDP, 1994)
GAPS is a multi-national, multi-disciplinary initiative that aims to examine the scope and range of human security in the Arctic. GAPS specifically focuses on the impacts of oil and gas activity on climate change and on Arctic peoples, in order to identify and document threats and coping strategies from traditional and human security perspectives (in both Arctic communities and among Arctic researchers). GAPS aims to deliver this knowledge in hand with Arctic communities, to other Arctic communities, and to the human security policy and academic communities.
By exploring the effects of oil and gas activity, and its interactions with climate change, on the human security of Arctic peoples, GAPS will further understanding and knowledge of 1) the science of climate change impacts and adaptation, and 2) the health and well-being of Northern communities.