Arctic Social Indicators

A follow-up to the Arctic Human Development Report

image of Arctic Social Indicators

This report is a result of and follow-up to the Arctic Human Development Report (AHDR), which appeared in 2004 and had been conducted under the auspices of the Arctic Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG). The AHDR marked processes of maturation within the Arctic Council and beyond. On the one hand, the AHDR represented the first social science-driven report prepared for the Arctic Council, indicating that various stakeholders, from politicians to Arctic residents, understood the importance of the ”human dimension”for sustainable development in the Arctic. On the other hand, the processes leading to the AHDR marked new developments in the relationship between Arctic governance and scholarship, including coordinated support for the report from the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (SCPAR).



Contact with nature

Historically, Arctic societies have fed, sheltered, and clothed themselves and maintained their well-being, in large part through a close relationship and interdependence with the natural environment. Arctic human-environment interactions fulfill the physical needs for food and shelter and also ground humans spiritually in their cultural worlds. Generally speaking, Arctic societies have undergone tremendous change in the last century, due mostly to the forces of globalization, resource development, urbanization, and modernity. These changes, in turn, have affected and transformed Arctic humanenvironment interactions by fragmenting and exploiting lands and ecosystems, redefining rural ways of life through structures such as settlement policies and working-class obligations, and replacing local ways of knowing with mass communication, information, and technology. Despite these changes, most Arctic inhabitants, to a greater or lesser degree, maintain an interrelationship with the natural world based upon their cultural legacy, continued need for food, clothing and shelter, and a strong sense of place and meaning in the Arctic environment. Contact with nature, albeit a somewhat intangible attribute of human development and therefore difficult to measure, is nonetheless central to the legacy of and contemporary state of well-being in Arctic societies.


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