WWF-Canada Blog:

WWF does Moscow: the Problems of Adaptation to Climate Change Conference

A small group of us from WWF-Canada had made a whirlwind tour of centers of arctic expertise as we developed the analysis for the project and received feedback/validation from academics and fellow ENGOs.

Tonight, I’m headed to Moscow to present the RACER project at the “Problems of Adaptation to Climate Change Conference” on behalf of the project team. It’s a timely presentation as WWF will present an introductory handbook of the analysis to a working group of the Arctic Council this week.

For me, this trip to Moscow is bittersweet. In many ways it signals the end of what was an incredibly challenging, but ultimately inspiring task: develop a new approach to conservation planning in the Arctic. An approach that not only acknowledges the looming challenge of rapidly and drastically changing arctic environments as a response to climatic change, but also attempts to proactively identify key features of arctic ecosystems that help contribute to their vitality and durability — or, as we refer to it, their “resilience”.

(c) Martin von Mirbach/WWF-Canada

Our new approach emphasizes the importance of dynamic processes, such as those that underly the productivity and diversity of ecological systems. This functional approach to ecosystems requires an understanding of the biogeophysical drivers of the system — for instance wind, soil formation, patterns of insulation, temperature, and sea currents. By adopting such an approach, we can identify the underlying components of the system that are critical to the productivity or diversity that we currently observe, and which we can relate to models of predicted climatic change over this century.

Through the RACER project, a team of WWF scientists and expert advisors from Canada, Norway, Russia and the United States, has worked together on pilot case studies to identify key features in both marine and terrestrial ecosystems that may contribute to sustained ecological resilience during rapid climatic change in the Arctic region.

Following this red-eye flight from Toronto, I will present this ground-breaking conservation work to an international audience of scientists and policy makers. Wish me luck, as the message we hope to deliver is significant: conservation planning is about to rapidly change — in much the same way the global climate is already.