As I write this I’m sitting in the WWF booth here at the International Polar Year Conference in Montreal, Canada.
It’s hard to actually get a break to write this in between the stream of people visiting the booth – with about 3,000 people registered, there’s always someone passing by. We’re using the booth to do what the conference is supposed to be about, moving knowledge into action – in our case the knowledge we’re pushing out comes from our offices around the Arctic. We have reports from Russia on using remote sensing to count walrus populations, field reports from Alaska, and a report we’re highlighting at this conference, the final version of the handbook on our work to create a framework for assessing resilience in the Arctic.
The people who come to the booth to pick up the materials range from some Argentinian students interested in our work in the Antarctic (we found them Spanish language materials thanks to our colleagues from the Antarctic and Southern Oceans Initiative) to an Inuit leader from Nunavik (Northern Quebec) who wanted to know how the money we raised jointly with Coca-Cola is benefiting northern conservation. But what really struck me was the number of teachers who stopped by our booth – “We love you guys,” they tell us “your materials are really useful in the classroom.”
While we appreciate the opportunity to help shape young minds, we’re here to try to shape not-so-young minds too. We’re keenly aware that the rate of change in the Arctic, change confirmed by research conducted under the International Polar Year, is such that we don’t have the luxury of waiting until the kids grow up to make the right decisions for the Arctic. That’s why we’re going beyond the booth, presenting in a variety of sessions over the course of the week to talk about the urgency of translating research into action on climate change, on promoting resilience, and on ensuring that we have adequate safeguards for an Arctic that requires careful stewardship.