November 28, 2011 Students on Ice Polar Delegation Zero Draft Submission for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable

Development Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20-22 June, 2012 About the Delegation The Students on Ice Polar Delegation ( is an international youth-led initiative inspired by Students on Ice Expeditions (, an organization committed to providing students, educators, and scientists from around the world with the opportunity to experience the polar regions first-hand. Members of the Students on Ice Polar Delegation are united by the rare privilege of having visited the Arctic and the Antarctic. There are even several members of the delegation living in the Arctic. Composed entirely of youth under 24 from around the world, our delegation has 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, and social challenges facing the polar regions. 2. We want to ensure the long-term sustainability of the polar regions which increases sustainability for developed and developing states. 3. We will encourage decision-makers at Rio+20 to be accountable to the generations who 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 of the planet, and messengers of global processes. With air temperatures in the Arctic rising at a rate nearly twice the global average, the region is undergoing some of the most rapid changes on the planet.1 Meanwhile, the Antarctic ice cap, equivalent to 90% of all ice on the planet and 70% of the world’s fresh water, is melting more rapidly than predicted.2 Glaciers and ice sheets are declining rapidly, and melting ice sheets in both polar regions are estimated 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 has global consequences. Adverse environmental effects occurring in the polar regions will affect other regions around the world by increasing global sea levels, decreasing albedo as well as decreasing ocean productivity. Increasing temperatures and weather pattern changes are causing Arctic and Antarctic ice to melt at an alarming rate. The consequent increase of fresh water into the global ocean is causing a change in the composition of sea

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 [Core Writing 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 geological systems. The polar oceans are a large carbon sink, not just through biological uptake, but because the polar regions are where the deep ocean waters are formed.4 The CO2 is dissolved and channelled down into the North Atlantic Deep Water and Antarctic Deep Water formations, where the CO2 is stored for the entire duration of deep water circulation (~350+ years).4 Climate change is drastically altering the oceans and the loss of this important polar carbon sink would cause significant changes in the composition of the atmosphere.5 Consequently, the polar regions should be targeted as areas that merit preservation, thereby enabling the rest of the planet to be better protected. Humans should be concerned about the degrading health of the polar regions and the impact modern climate change is having on the development within these fragile ecosystems.  Arctic communities are learning they must adapt to modern climate change and prepare 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 Arctic development will delay the transition to a global green economy. Similarly, stakeholders must stringently evaluate the opportunity cost of economic development with the potential for threats to Arctic ecosystems. If Arctic development does occur, it must be sustainable to mitigate risk of damaging already degrading ecosystems. Within the next decade, Arctic states will continue to make important environmental and economic decisions about the region that will influence domestic and global sustainability.  Despite existing frameworks like the Arctic Council, every country in the world has a fundamental 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 is urgent 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 Arctic and Antarctic regions. Recommendations 1. Recognize the importance of polar regions within context of sustainable development The Arctic was not identified as a fragile ecosystem in Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. As outlined in the previous section, research and emerging trends have stressed the need for the polar regions to be prioritized on global platforms such as the United Nations. The sustainable development of the Arctic and Antarctic must be emphasized to support the objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and future international agreements.
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Schlesinger, W. H. (1997). Biogeochemistry; an analysis of global change (2nd Edition ed.). Toronto, ON: Academic Press. 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 climate change 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 is sustainable The intensification of shipping, oil and gas drilling and fishing in the Arctic Ocean as a result of decreased ice extent creates an emerging challenge of ensuring the Arctic is developed in a 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 of the Arctic (d) the importance of the Arctic as natural heritage for future generations. Arctic development made possible by modern climate change has meaning within the theme of the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. The potential economic benefits of resource exploitation, particularly to indigenous communities, must be balanced with the risks exploitation poses to the fragile Arctic 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 a model of global cooperation that has furthered approaches to sustainable development. At Rio+20, we can build on this success and secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development by striving for carbon neutrality across the continent and in its surrounding 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 the Arctic and Antarctic, of their disproportionate vulnerability to degradation through environmental change, and of the necessity for collaborative action from states for their preservation. A tangible and achievable vision of the sustainable future that will inspire and encourage people of the polar regions to become engaged in the movement towards sustainable 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 the progress of the outcomes. Youth-adult partnerships where youth have equal opportunities to actively provide input 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 participatory approaches. Page 3 of 5

Addendum The Students on Ice Polar Delegation aims to build on previous success of youth who have brought polar issues to the attention of decision-makers during high-level meetings. Youth of the Students on Ice Arctic Youth Expedition 2011 wrote the following “International Youth Arctic Declaration” which was successfully presented by Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco and tabled by Canada at the Senior Arctic Officials’ Meeting of the Arctic Council in November 2011. Please see the following:

INTERNATIONAL YOUTH ARCTIC DECLARATION On the occasion of the Senior Arctic Officials’ Meeting of The Arctic Council 8-9 November 2011, Luleå, Sweden
We are 72 secondary school students from 15 countries who came together on the Students on Ice Arctic Youth Expedition 2011. We journeyed from Iceland to Greenland to Labrador to Nunavik, Canada. We embarked on this voyage to gain first-hand knowledge of the Arctic regions and to expand our understanding of not only the rich environment, history and cultures of the Arctic, but also the challenges they face. As a body of international students, we present a global youth perspective on Arctic issues. Whereas there is undeniable evidence of global climate change, Whereas it is expected the Arctic Ocean will be ice free for a significant part of the year in less than 30 years, changing ways of life for indigenous peoples, and Whereas Arctic cultures and communities require healthy ecosystems, We hereby: Recognize that the Arctic Council is uniquely able to bring Arctic states and indigenous peoples together to work on issues of common concern in the circumpolar regions, Recognize that people in the Arctic have the right to a healthy economy, based on the development of sustainable industries that protect the social, cultural and natural environment of the Arctic, Recognize the commitment of the Arctic Council to the preservation of indigenous languages and cultures, Recognize the vital role of the Permanent Participants in the work of the council, Recognize the important role of the Arctic Council in focusing world attention on Arctic issues, Page 4 of 5

Recognize that youth are key stakeholders in the Arctic, both now and in the future, and support the education and active engagement of youth in the work of the council, Support the efforts of member states and Permanent Participants to strengthen the Arctic Council, and commend the recent signing of the Agreement on Cooperation in Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic, as well as the creation of the Task Force to Develop Recommendations and/or Best Practices in the Prevention of Marine Oil Pollution in the Arctic, and Are encouraged by the forthcoming Strategic Communications Plan for the Arctic Council. We would like to encourage the Arctic Council to: Establish a youth advisory body to engage youth in the work of the Arctic Council, advise on policy development, and emphasize the global impacts of Arctic issues through outreach and community engagement, Support discussion about the Arctic’s environmental, cultural and social challenges in the curriculum content of Arctic states, to increase awareness of the Arctic's environmental and cultural heritage, Continue to consult with Permanent Participants to inform actions undertaken by the Arctic Council, Continue to support and expand scientific research in the Arctic regions to inform regional and global environmental policy development, Encourage international cooperation to address global climate change and other circumpolar issues, Support multilateral cooperation for preparation and response to oil spills and environmental crises, and Engage in further discussion to develop fair standards for the regulation of industries such as fisheries in the Arctic regions. We extend our gratitude to the Kingdom of Denmark for its leadership as chair of the Arctic Council from 2009 to 2011, and send our best wishes to the Kingdom of Sweden as it assumes this office for the next two year term. Email:

Students on Ice Polar Delegation Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G5 Tel. +1 226-791-8378

Andrew Wong Executive Director
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