European Commission approved preparatory project for EU Arctic Information Centre
The European Commission has selected a consortium led by the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland (Rovaniemi, Finland) to carry out an one million euro project* to produce a “Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of development of the Arctic”. The project will last eighteen months during 2013–2014.
The consortium known as the EU Arctic Information Centre Initiative comprises an international network of currently 19 leading Arctic research and outreach institutions from the various European Union member states, and the EEA countries.
The preparatory project is a first step to strengthen communication and outreach within the EU and between the EU and the Arctic community about the contribution the EU is making to address environmental and other issues raised by the rapid development of the Arctic region as a result of economic and climate change.
It provides a platform to test the effectiveness, functionality and sustainability of the proposal by the consortium to establish an EU Arctic Information Centre. The proposed EU Arctic Information Centre would aim to facilitate information exchange between the EU institutions, Arctic stakeholders and the general public. The possibility of the EU Arctic Information Centre has been expressed in various EU Commission, Council and Parliament Arctic papers since 2008. The Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland made a concrete initiative of the network model in 2009.
The project will also enhance the use of impact assessment and its importance as a tool and a channel to put together information for the use of decision- and policy-makers and the related legal processes.
“The key idea of the Preparatory Action project is to create an efficient application of science-based information and its fulfillment with views and perspectives of stakeholders both inside and outside of the Arctic”, says Director of the Arctic Centre, Professor Paula Kankaanpää.
To deliver that, the main activities are organized within four work packages: 1) EU Arctic Information Centre feasibility study; 2) Impact assessment process; 3) Outreach & communication; 4) Project management
According to Finnish Arctic Ambassador Hannu Halinen, “The ultimate vision is to contribute to the sustainable development of the Arctic by creating an active pan-European network of institutions that represents a substantial Arctic knowledge base. Rapid development of the Arctic, together with complicated political, socio-economic and environmental processes, will demand an effective use of science-based information and pro-active work by relevant communication and research centers to guide the decision- and policy-makers to swift and coherent actions”.
Mr Jaime Reynolds who coordinates Arctic issues for the Directorate-General for the Environment within European Commission notes:
“The project does not constitute the launch of an EU Arctic Information Centre itself; however the EU Arctic Information Centre Feasibility Study and Impact Assessment processes included will be fundamental for considering decisions about the establishment of the Centre.”
Professor Paula Kankaanpää, Director, Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland, Finland
Tel. +358 40 777 7825, email: paula.kankaanpaa (at) ulapland.fi
List of the network partners (December 2012)
*A Preparatory Action under the 2012 EU budget managed by DG Environment