Blueprinting resilience of future Arctic communities?

January 7, 2014

Conference presentation by Tobias Luthe et al.. 19-24 January 2014, Tromso, Norway


Blueprinting resilience of future Arctic communities?

Tobias Luthe, Romano Wyss
University of Chur, Chur, Switzerland

Live in the Arctic is existent in both indigeneous and non-idigeneous communities. Increasing political and industrial pressure for energy and tourism challenge life in the Arctic; while this development may threaten traditional life and the environment, it may also provide for new opportunities of economic development and social wellbeing. We assess resilience to environmental change in the Arctic community of Longyearbyen on Svalbard (Norway), and reflect on potential pathways for other, indigeneous communities. In Longyearbyen, there are no indigeneous people, and there are only few permanent residents in part due to the isolation and extreme environment, in part due to the fact that noone can privately own land. The economy is based on coal mining, research and a fast growing tourism industry. Most tourism industry staff go there for adventure and quick money, while only a few business owners have been living there for 20 to 40 years. One consequence is a lack of attachement to the place.

What can we learn from resilience of a community that is existent only for business and fun? Does the increasing global pressure for energy and tourism push indigeneous communities into a similar direction, thus making Longyearbyen somewhat a blueprint for future Arctic communities? Where are the threats, where the opportunities for anticipating change and resilience in other Arctic communities?



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