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Students on Ice Polar Delegation Zero Draft Submission

Students on Ice Polar Delegation Zero Draft Submission

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Published by SOIDelegation
Students on Ice Polar Delegation's submission for inclusion in the compilation document of the Zero Draft of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.
Students on Ice Polar Delegation's submission for inclusion in the compilation document of the Zero Draft of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

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Published by: SOIDelegation on Dec 31, 2011
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November 28, 2011
Students on Ice Polar DelegationZero Draft Submission for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable DevelopmentRio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20-22 June, 2012About the Delegation
 The Students on Ice Polar Delegation(www.soidelegation.com)is an international youth-led initiative inspired by Students on Ice Expeditions(www.studentsonice.com), an organization committed to providing students, educators, and scientists from around the world with theopportunity to experience the polar regions first-hand.Members of the Students on Ice Polar Delegation are united by the rare privilege of havingvisited the Arctic and the Antarctic. There are even several members of the delegation livingin the Arctic. Composed entirely of youth under 24 from around the world, our delegationhas a unique perspective on the planet that should be communicated to decision-makers.
Mission and Vision Statement
 1. We are youth addressing the current and emerging environmental, economic, andsocial challenges facing the polar regions.2. We want to ensure the long-term sustainability of the polar regions which increasessustainability for developed and developing states.3. We will encourage decision-makers at Rio+20 to be accountable to the generationswho will have to address the long-term consequences of their decisions.
Importance of Polar Regions
 The polar regions are the cornerstones of the global ecosystem, barometers of the health ofthe planet, and messengers of global processes. With air temperatures in the Arctic rising ata rate nearly twice the global average, the region is undergoing some of the most rapidchanges on the planet.
1
Meanwhile, the Antarctic ice cap, equivalent to 90% of all ice on theplanet and
70% of the world’s fresh water,
is melting more rapidly than predicted.
2
Glaciersand ice sheets are declining rapidly, and melting ice sheets in both polar regions areestimated to result in total sea level rise of 1.4 metres by 2100.
3
 Protecting the polar regions is of paramount importance as environmental degradation hasglobal consequences. Adverse environmental effects occurring in the polar regions willaffect other regions around the world by increasing global sea levels, decreasing albedo aswell as decreasing ocean productivity. Increasing temperatures and weather patternchanges are causing Arctic and Antarctic ice to melt at an alarming rate. The consequentincrease of fresh water into the global ocean is causing a change in the composition of sea
1
 
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2007).
Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 
[CoreWriting Team, Pachauri, R.K and Reisinger, A. (eds.)]. Geneva, Switzerland: IPCC.
 
2
 
Laybourn-Parry, J. (2009). No place too cold.
Science, 324 
(5934), 1521-1522.
 
3
 
Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). (2009).
Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment.
Cambridge,UK: SCAR.
 
 
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water in these regions.
4
This is having an effect on marine ecosystems and geologicalsystems. The polar oceans are a large carbon sink, not just through biological uptake, butbecause the polar regions are where the deep ocean waters are formed.
4
The CO
2
isdissolved and channelled down into the North Atlantic Deep Water and Antarctic DeepWater formations, where the CO
2
is stored for the entire duration of deep water circulation(~350+ years).
4
Climate change is drastically altering the oceans and the loss of thisimportant polar carbon sink would cause significant changes in the composition of theatmosphere.
5
Consequently, the polar regions should be targeted as areas that meritpreservation, thereby enabling the rest of the planet to be better protected.Humans should be concerned about the degrading health of the polar regions and theimpact modern climate change is having on the development within these fragileecosystems.
Arctic communities are learning they must adapt to modern climate change andprepare for the future impacts of development in the region.
6
 
Globally, citizens must adapt their lifestyles to the effects of modern climate change.
There should be strong worldwide concern about and action to address how Arcticdevelopment will delay the transition to a global green economy. Similarly,stakeholders must stringently evaluate the opportunity cost of economicdevelopment with the potential for threats to Arctic ecosystems. If Arcticdevelopment does occur, it must be sustainable to mitigate risk of damaging alreadydegrading ecosystems.Within the next decade, Arctic states will continue to make important environmental andeconomic decisions about the region that will influence domestic and global sustainability.
Despite existing frameworks like the Arctic Council,
every country in the world 
has afundamental stake in shaping the decisions about the future of the Arctic.
Equally important are decisions about the future of Antarctica.
Despite existing frameworks such as the Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty, there isurgent need for citizens to take responsibility for shaping decisions in this region.Rio+20 is the right opportunity to advance the sustainability imperative in the Arcticand Antarctic regions.
Recommendations1. Recognize the importance of polar regions within context of sustainabledevelopment
The Arctic was not identified as a fragile ecosystem in Agenda 21 of the United NationsConference on Environment and Development. As outlined in the previous section, researchand emerging trends have stressed the need for the polar regions to be prioritized on globalplatforms such as the United Nations. The sustainable development of the Arctic andAntarctic must be emphasized to support the objectives of the United Nations FrameworkConvention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and future international agreements.
4
 
Schlesinger, W. H. (1997).
Biogeochemistry; an analysis of global change 
(2nd Edition ed.). Toronto, ON: Academic Press.
 
5
 
Reid, P. C., Fischer, A. C., Lewis-Brown, E., Meredith, M. P., Sparrow, M., Andersson, A. J., . . . Keeling, R. (2009).Impacts of the oceans on climate change.
Advances in Marine Biology, 56 
, 1-150.
 
6
 
Ford, J., Pearce, T., Smit, B., Wandel, J., Allurot, M., Shappa, K., . . . Qrunnut, K. (2007). Reducing vulnerability to climatechange in the arctic: The case of nunavut, canada.
Arctic, 60 
(2), 150-166.
 
 
 
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2. Ensure Arctic development made possible by modern climate change issustainable
 The intensification of shipping, oil and gas drilling and fishing in the Arctic Ocean as a resultof decreased ice extent creates an emerging challenge of ensuring the Arctic is developed ina sustainable manner. This challenge is of prime importance given (a) the extreme fragility of
Arctic ecosystems (b) the difficulty of managing environmental risk in the Arctic’s hostile
environment (c) the social, cultural and economic impacts of development on the people ofthe Arctic (d) the importance of the Arctic as natural heritage for future generations.Arctic development made possible by modern climate change has meaning within thetheme of the green economy in the context of sustainable development and povertyeradication. The potential economic benefits of resource exploitation, particularly toindigenous communities, must be balanced with the risks exploitation poses to the fragileArctic environment. Resource exploitation should be grounded in key declarations including
A Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on Resource Development Principles in Inuit Nunaat 
and
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People 
.
3. Strive for carbon neutrality in Antarctica
The Antarctic Treaty, which set aside the continent as a reserve for peace and science, is amodel of global cooperation that has furthered approaches to sustainable development. AtRio+20, we can build on this success and secure renewed political commitment forsustainable development by striving for carbon neutrality across the continent and in itssurrounding waters.
Expectations for the Outcome of Rio+20
 The Students on Ice Polar Delegation expects the outcomes of Rio+20 to include:
 
Specific attention paid to and recognition of the environmental importance of theArctic and Antarctic, of their disproportionate vulnerability to degradation throughenvironmental change, and of the necessity for collaborative action from states fortheir preservation.
 
 
A tangible and achievable vision of the sustainable future that will inspire andencourage people of the polar regions to become engaged in the movement towardssustainable development, and the preservation of their environment.
 
A specific and politically-
binding outcome document ensuring countries’ commitment
and accountability to sustainable development globally
 –
including the polar regions
 –
with clear recommendations and mechanisms to track and continually assess theprogress of the outcomes.
 
 
Youth-adult partnerships where youth have equal opportunities to actively provideinput during the Rio+20 Process and Conference. Active partnerships can include:youth attendance in meetings, youth-led side presentations for decision-makers,formal conversations between youth and decision-makers, and other participatoryapproaches.

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