The Circle

A Green and Just Recovery

© Marc Marchal / Unsplash

The concept of One Health can not only help us understand the social, ecological, economic and medical reasons behind the significant changes in the Arctic, but address and adapt to them in ways that are culturally appropriate and sustainable. Arleigh Reynolds explains how.

In this issue

In this issue, we examine the impacts of COVID-19 in the Arctic.

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Staffan Widstrand / WWF

Reconnecting with food sources

COVID-19 affected food systems and food security around the world, causing many people to recognize the vulnerability of the complex networks we depend on to cover our most basic needs. Indigenous peoples around the world are pushing for the right to feed themselves and be less dependent on industrial food systems. Indigenous food webs recognize the intricate connections between how we obtain our food, what we choose to eat, and how these choices can affect our own health and that of the planet. For the Arctic, a just transition post-pandemic depends on understanding the region and its food supply through an Arctic lens. As Aviaja Lyberth Hauptmann argues, that means looking beyond a push toward plant-based food.

Adam Rheborg

COVID-19 disrupts Arctic beach clean-ups

For nearly two decades, with support from the governor of Svalbard, passengers on Arctic expedition cruises have been helping with clean-up efforts in the Arctic—and the industry as a whole has been working to enhance these efforts since 2018. But with almost no expedition cruises operating during the coronavirus pandemic, this will be the first year that tourists cannot help retrieve litter from Arctic beaches. As Melissa Nacke writes, not only has the pandemic hindered clean-up efforts—it is creating new sources of pollution, such as masks, gloves and hand sanitizer bottles. And this growing trash problem will be compounded by the return of single-use items that the expedition cruise industry has worked hard to eliminate.


Chris Linder / WWF-US

Creating a better post-pandemic world for the Arctic

There are probably very few people on our planet who haven’t been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic—and it’s still not clear what the environmental, social, political, economic and health impacts will be in the months and years to come. While the world rushes to develop a vaccine, people everywhere are making efforts to strengthen their resilience and limit the effects of this novel, deadly virus.

Peter Ewins / WWF-Canada

Could saying goodbye to oil and gas investments power a greener post-COVID recovery?

Earlier this year, reported that to date, almost 1,200 institutions and more than 58,000 individuals had committed to divesting from fossil fuels. This represents $14 trillion in assets worldwide. Divestment campaigns first emerged about a decade ago, mainly in Europe. By 2015, the decision to move away from fossil fuels was reported to be the fastest-growing divestment movement in history.

Veronika Essen

A Russian activist weighs the likelihood of a green recovery

The pandemic has changed life for everyone, but arguably none more so than the world’s young people. For many, their lives have been put on hold. Their educations have been interrupted, and milestones such as graduations have been cancelled. But Russian youth climate activist Sonya Epifantseva sees a potential upside: she hopes the pandemic might help people across the Arctic— and around the globe—understand the need to choose a greener path forward.

Hans Veth / Unsplash

How a circular economy can help the Arctic and the Earth

After the warmest winter on record, the northern sun returned to shine on a different world this summer, where both the stability of the permafrost and the material flows over it had been disrupted. For many of us, the words resilience and scarcity gained tangible meanings. But as Kari Herlevi and Tim Forslund point out, the boundaries imposed by nature have always been more tangible in the Arctic—and no place on Earth now appears more at odds with our dated economic system.

Neil Cooper / Unsplash

Higher waves could threaten Arctic communities

Waves washing up against sea stacks on Reynisfjara Beach in Iceland evoke the higher waves that may pound shorelines in Greenland and the Canadian Arctic as summer sea ice disappears.

Frank Reardon

In search of better solutions for garbage in Iqaluit, Canada

Arctic communities face unique challenges when it comes to waste disposal. Iqaluit, the capital of the Canadian territory of Nunavut, is a case in point. Without any roads connecting the city of 8,000 to other northern communities or the rest of Canada, most garbage is either dumped in the city’s aging landfill or shipped south by boat at significant expense.

Arctic Council Secretariat/Linnea Nordström

COVID-19 pandemic brings Arctic Council work to a standstill

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the world changed dramatically almost overnight. From where we can travel to how we work, life hasn’t been the same for most people around the globe. However, while many organisations have found ways to move forward using online tools, the Arctic Council’s work isn’t well-suited to those—so many of its operations are facing challenges. The Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants. As Timo Koivurova explains, the changes brought about by the pandemic are hurting the Council’s progress in terms of both science and diplomatic cooperation.

The Circle is a magazine produced by the WWF Global Arctic Programme. Our goal is to inform decision-makers, scientists and the interested public about Arctic environmental and development issues.
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The Circle 03.20