Arctic Program Director and Senior Scientist, Woodwell Climate Research Center
Arctic Communications Specialist, Woodwell Climate Research Center
Convening participants came together in September to discuss the local to global impacts of permafrost thaw
On September 26 and 27, 2022, Permafrost Pathways hosted a policy convening at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Permafrost Pathways team was joined by representatives from federal agencies, Alaska Native communities and organizations, and Arctic science institutions. The meeting was an opportunity for invitees to learn about Permafrost Pathways; offer their thoughts about the challenges and opportunities at the intersection of permafrost science and policy; and identify possibilities for connecting with, leveraging, and collaborating with Permafrost Pathways.
Header photo: Kumari Karunaratne from the Canadian Permafrost Association. Photo by Liza Xiao/Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Above: Dr. Sue Natali introducing Permafrost Pathways during the opening plenary session. Photo by Jessica Howard/Woodwell Climate Research Center
The opening sessions provided attendees with an introduction of Permafrost Pathways and highlighted the roles of project partners at Woodwell Climate Research Center, the Arctic Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School, the Alaska Institute for Justice, and the Alaska Native Science Commission. US Government officials—including representatives from the White House Arctic Executive Steering Committee, Department of State, Department of Interior, the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Denali Commission—shared information about some of the existing federal permafrost projects and climate resilience and adaptation initiatives followed by opportunities for all participants to give brief descriptions of their permafrost-focused interests and relevant work.
Top photo: Permafrost Pathways Tribal Liaisons Bernice Sallison and Morris Alexie from Nunapicuaq (Nunapitchuk) share the impacts of permafrost thaw on the community washeteria. Photo by Liza Xiao/Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Bottom photo: Permafrost Pathways Tribal Liaisons Julius Carl and Gary Evon from Kuigilnguq (Kwigillingok) discussing permafrost thaw, flooding, and erosion happening in their community. Photo by Liza Xiao/Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
During the opening plenary sessions, Permafrost Pathways Tribal Liaisons shared observations of permafrost thaw and other environmental changes currently impacting their communities due to climate change.
The Alaska Native villages of Kuigilnguq (Kwigillingok) and Nunapicuaq (Nunapitchuk) are two of at least 73 villages imminently threatened by permafrost thaw, flooding, and erosion and are making difficult decisions about adaptation and community-wide relocation in order to protect their communities and traditional lifeways from the impacts of the climate crisis.
Top photo: Malinda Chase from the Tribal Resilience Learning Network describing climate change impacts experienced in the Alaska Native village of Kotlik. Photo by Liza Xiao/Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Bottom photo: Arctic Initiative’s Fran Ulmer reflecting on plenary sessions. Photo by Liza Xiao/Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Following the morning plenary presentations were three individual breakout sessions focused on the following:
Identifying and prioritizing policy actions that advance adaptation to and resilience against the impacts of permafrost thaw across the Arctic
Policy actions for environmentally threatened communities in Alaska
Incorporation of permafrost emissions in national and global emission targets
The two-day convening brought together many potential collaborators who are currently working on Arctic adaptation, resilience, and mitigation projects and identified more opportunities for engaging with Permafrost Pathways. Attendees agreed that the convening successfully amplified voices of Alaska Native tribes—who are among those most affected by permafrost thaw—and delivered insights and updates from those who are leading responsive interventions across several federal government agencies.
To learn more about breakout session findings and next steps identified by convening participants, read the summarized convening report.
Photo: Convening participants. Photo by Liz Hanlon/Harvard University, Arctic Initiative
Thank you to our convening participants:
Morris Alexie Permafrost Pathways Tribal Liaison Alaska Native Village of Nunapitchuk
Luke Apsia Fellow Division of Wilderness Medicine
Massachusetts General Hospital
Benjamin Baldwin Climate Justice Tribal Liaison Alaska Institute for Justice
David Balton Executive Director Arctic Executive Steering Committee
Tracy Barquinero Arctic Project Manager Woodwell Climate Research Center
Robin Bronen Executive Director Permafrost Pathways Project Co-Lead Alaska Institute for Justice
Maxine Burkett Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Fisheries, and Polar Affairs US State Department
Julius Carl Permafrost Pathways Tribal Liaison Alaska Native Village of Kwigillingok
Malinda Chase Tribal Resilience Liaison University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Tribal Resilience Learning Network
Joel Clement Senior Fellow Harvard University, Arctic Initiative
Patricia Cochran Executive Director Alaska Native Science Commission
Liz Qaulluq Cravalho Director NANA, Lands Department
Tad Homer Dixon Director Cascade Institute (Vancouver Island)
Gary Evon Permafrost Pathways Tribal Liaison Alaska Native Village of Kwigillingok