Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 01, 2014 - 8:59 am

Arctic Council biodiversity group chooses Cambridge Bay for annual meeting

CAFF works towards international biodiversity congress this December in Norway

KELCEY WRIGHT
Risa Smith, CAFF Chair, speaks to about 50 people during the Arctic Council Night at the Cambridge Bay community hall on August 27th. (PHOTO BY KELCEY WRIGHT)
Risa Smith, CAFF Chair, speaks to about 50 people during the Arctic Council Night at the Cambridge Bay community hall on August 27th. (PHOTO BY KELCEY WRIGHT)
Arctic Council ministers received CAFF's Arctic Biodiversity Assessment May 15, 2013 in Kiruna, Sweden. It calls on the eight Arctic Council states to carry out decisive action
Arctic Council ministers received CAFF's Arctic Biodiversity Assessment May 15, 2013 in Kiruna, Sweden. It calls on the eight Arctic Council states to carry out decisive action "to help sustain vast, relatively undisturbed ecosystems of tundra, mountains, fresh water and seas." International representatives will discuss the document's recommendations Dec. 2 to Dec. 4 at the Arctic Biodiversity Congress in Trondheim, Norway.

Special to Nunatsiaq News

CAMBRIDGE BAY — The western Nunavut town of Cambridge Bay hosted visitors from the United States, Canada, Iceland, Finland, Greenland and Sweden last week for the annual meeting of the board in charge of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna group — one of the Arctic Council’s various working groups.

CAFF, the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council, included representatives from each of the eight member states and permanent indigenous participants and is supported by an office based in Iceland.

When CAFF’s week-long annual meeting, held each year in a different Arctic country, took place in Cambridge Bay Aug. 25 to Aug. 29 — it was the first time in 16 years this group has met in Canada.

CAFF tries to meet in communities outside the capital cities of the Arctic Council members, said Tom Barry, the Iceland-based organization’s executive secretary.

“It’s a really cool group, because most organizations would have their meetings in Ottawa or Washington, or something,” said he said.

On the evening of Aug. 27, the Arctic Council held a community information night at the Luke Novoligak Community Hall to talk about the link between food security and biodiversity.

There, CAFF representatives talked with residents about food security, shared information about who they are and what they do, and offered samples of local foods from their respective countries.

As for CAFF’s daily work, since its launch in 1996 its members have focused on issues related to sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.

“It’s one of the few organizations where people who live in the Arctic have a direct line in determining what happens in the Arctic,” Barry said.

CAFF members also look at non-Arctic wildlife.

“A good example is a migrant bird, we have to study where they go in the winter as well as when they’re in the Arctic for the summer,” he said.

Last year, CAFF completed the first Arctic Biodiversity Assessment , and presented it at the Arctic Council ministerial gathering in Kiruna, Sweden.

CAFF delegates will present and discuss the findings of their 2013 biodiversity report at the Arctic Biodiversity Congress to be held Dec. 2 to Dec. 4 in Trondheim, Norway.

Among other things, that report said Arctic biodiversity was being “degraded” and that climate change was “the most serious threat” to the region’s plants and animals.”

“We mix traditional knowledge with scientific knowledge,” Barry said.

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