Making tough choices in the Arctic

IDEEAS players at the Arctic Circle conference in Reykjavik. Photo: Clive Tesar / WWF

About eighty people from around the word gathered in a room in Reykjavik, Iceland last night, puzzling over where to put new ports and mines in the Arctic. Then they realized that those new ports and mines would have negative impacts on the ability of local hunters to find food for their communities, or would spoil the views of an ecotourism business. That caused a rethink where those mines and ports would be placed.

Luckily, these people were not the real decision-makers. They were playing a game hosted by WWF and the Natural Capital Project. The game, developed with the support of Guggenheim Partners, simulates the real life decisions facing communities, governments, investors, and developers.

The game is just the first step in, and an engagement tool for, an ongoing project “Informing Decisions for Ecological and Economic Arctic Sustainability” (IDEEAS). WWF and Natural Capital are now seeking out more partners to involve in the project, to help compile the sort of information decision-makers will need in the future to make informed decisions about Arctic development. And as for the people who played the game, they walked away with a new appreciation of the difficulties faced by people making choices in Arctic communities.