New National Arctic Strategy Adopts Integrated Arctic Management
by David J. Hayes
Deputy Secretary of the Interior
Today the White House announced the release of the National Strategy for the Arctic Region, a broad framework that lays out the U.S. Government’s strategic priorities in the Arctic for the next 10 years. The National Strategy, developed to coordinate and prioritize federal actions in the rapidly changing region, reaffirms and builds upon the work of several interagency efforts, including a recent effort of a group that I chair: the Interagency Working Group on Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska (Alaska Interagency Working Group), which was established under the President’s Executive Order 13580.
The National Strategy includes as one of its primary lines of effort the goal of “Pursu[ing] Responsible Arctic Region Stewardship.” I am pleased that the Strategy calls for the use of an Integrated Arctic Management approach for the management and stewardship of our natural resources. The National Strategy echoes, in this regard, recommendations included in the Interagency Working Group’s recently-completed Report to the President entitled “Managing for the Future in a Rapidly Changing Arctic.”
The concept of Integrated Arctic Management emerged from the Working Group’s chronicling of the dramatic environmental, cultural, and economic changes that are taking place in the Arctic region. In seeking to better understand the visions and expectations of key stakeholders, we learned that all of them had strong aspirations for sustainable ecosystems, thriving cultures, and healthy economies in the region. Integrated Arctic Management provides a mechanism for reconciling these potentially-competing interests in the future. It calls for a science-based, whole-of-government approach to stewardship and planning in the Arctic that integrates and balances environmental, economic, and cultural needs and objectives. Integrated Arctic Management depends, at its core, on an adaptive, stakeholder-driven evaluation of development and conservation options for the Arctic.
The National Arctic Strategy’s adoption of Integrated Arctic Management as a central tenet of stewardship for the Arctic’s resources will ensure that the people who are most impacted by decisions in the Arctic – including, in particular, the Alaska Natives who live in the region – will have a powerful voice in those decisions. And it also will ensure that key decisions made in the Arctic will be driven by good science that is mindful of the environmental sensitivities of this rapidly-changing region, and by a robust, coordinated government conversation that seeks to integrate major decision points across a number of different social and economic sectors.
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