"The polar regions give us our last chance for a sustainable future; if we fail there, we fail elsewhere" The Symposium enabled discussions on how polar changes affect the global climate, societies and economies, and the next steps.
Polar regions attract increasing public interest and attention with respect to climate change, mainly because of the visible effects. Climate-induced changes, such as ice melting, are regularly reported in the media, sometimes accompanied by important information on the significance of the frozen world for the global climate and human socioeconomic development. Environmental changes in the Arctic and the Antarctic are accelerating, affecting local species and ecosystems, and impacting the broader climate and ecological systems far beyond the polar regions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2019 Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate emphasizes that “all people on Earth depend directly or indirectly on the ocean and cryosphere,” and draws attention to the observed changes and projected risks.
The Scientific Symposium: From Arctic to Antarctic, under the theme “The Cold is Getting Hot!” contributed to better understanding the extent, scope, and impact of changes in polar regions. Leading and early career scientists, and key partners, discussed how fast, and in what ways, changes in polar regions affect climate, living organisms, and social systems. The meeting shed additional light on the critical role of the cryosphere in a changing climate, informing crucial policy decisions and collective actions in the poles, and feeding into relevant international processes to protect and enhance ecosystem resilience.
The symposium was structured around four main themes:
- understanding changes in the poles, including changes in Arctic and Southern Ocean chemistry, as well as in ice regimes, permafrost, glaciers, and biodiversity;
- contribution of polar changes to the global climate, focusing on how changes in the poles are amplifying global climate changes, including ice melting driving sea level rise, and links between polar changes and extreme weather events around the planet;
- effects of polar changes upon global human societies and economies, including assessing and mitigating risks for dependent communities; and
- management responses in the face of uncertainties.
The Symposium is part of the Polar Initiative, which takes a proactive role in polar conservation. It is a four-year programme, building on previous work on polar regions by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and its partners. The Polar Initiative aims to: produce science-based evidence and knowledge; drive campaigns to weigh in on impactful policy changes; build capacities through fellowships via the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC); and deliver conservation actions through the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation calls for projects.
The Symposium took place from 24-25 February 2022 at the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco, with participation both in person and virtually. It was convened by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, SCAR, and IASC, in collaboration with the Oceanographic Institute, Prince Albert I of Monaco Foundation, the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI), and the UN Decade for Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
Funding for Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of the Scientific Symposium has been provided by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
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