The challenge: Northern communities need relevant information that will help them minimize the negative impacts of climate change, and maximize the opportunities. For this approach to work, local expertise and indigenous knowledge must be part of the evidence base that informs public policymaking and adaptation strategies. For example, one major issue for local Cree, Naskapi, Inuit and Innu peoples has been the dramatic decline in caribou populations, now less than 9,000 animals, which play a central role in the local diet and culture.
The response: ArcticNet’s proven approach for translating knowledge into action is the Integrated Regional Impact Study (IRIS) process. The decline of large caribou herds was clearly documented in ArcticNet’s 2012 Nunavik-Nunatsiavut IRIS Report. The assessment included recommendations to protect habitat, migration routes and calving grounds, and to create a caribou management group. A few months later, affected Indigenous groups in Quebec and Labrador formed the Ungava Peninsula Caribou Aboriginal Roundtable (UPCART). The Roundtable used the IRIS Report to develop recommendations for action by the Kativik, Nunatsiavut and Quebec governments. This has resulted in significant progress in the conservation of Ungava caribou. The IRIS approach is now being adopted at the international scale by AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme) circumpolar assessments of the Arctic Council.