Food security of Arctic Indigenous people

The report by the Arctic Council (Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment, PAME) explains how indigenous populations are being affected by climate change. The rapid increase in temperature occurring in the region (4 times faster than in the rest of the world), has negative consequences for the lifestyle (e.g. hunting and fishing), health and food security of the indigenous peoples of that region, with reduced access to certain species that are an integral part of their diet.

The reduction of ice in certain regions not only generates instability, putting the lives of those looking for food at risk, but also triggers changes in ecosystems. Another critical factor in the loss of ecosystems is related to the acidification of the Arctic Ocean (Fig.1). This phenomenon occurs due to the influx of melting river waters, causing the displacement of some fish species. It is important to note that, on the other hand, other species may benefit from acidification. Understanding the consequences of these changes encompasses cultural, identity and community issues, including the sharing of traditional and ancestral knowledge that is being lost.

Figure 1: Melting of Arctic Ocean

As we delve deeper into the study, we see that the health of these populations and communities is at risk, both nutritionally, due to the loss of access to certain foods, and mentally. However, it is necessary to bear in mind that the other side of climate change verified in that region allows an increase in resource extraction, tourism and economic development. Everything is interconnected.

The authors of the report present seven case studies to show the situation in different areas of the Arctic region and in different communities that have found ways to adapt resiliently to the new circumstances (Fig.2). This new reality is no longer restricted to the Arctic or indigenous populations

Figure 2: Indigenous walking on ice

Author: Céline Rodrigues

Reference: Arctic Council, Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME). (2021). Indigenous Food Security in the Arctic, Implications of a Changing Ocean. Information Brief.