IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Well-being and environmental change in the arctic: a synthesis of selected research from Canada’s International Polar Year program


  • Brenda Parlee


  • Chris Furgal



The social and cultural dimensions of arctic environmental change were explored through Canada’s International Polar Year (IPY) research program. Drawing on concepts of vulnerability, resilience and human security, we discuss preliminary results of 15 IPY research projects (of 52) which dealt with the effects and responses of northern communities to issues of ecological variability, natural resource development and climate change. This paper attempts to determine whether the preliminary results of these projects have contributed to the IPY program goal of building knowledge about well-being in the arctic. The projects were diverse in focus and approach but together offer a valuable pan-northern perspective on many themes including land and resource use, food security, poverty and best practices of northern engagement. Case study research using self-reported measures suggests individual views of their own well-being differ from regional and territorial standardized statistics on quality of life. A large body of work was developed around changes in land and resource use. A decline in land and resource use in some areas and consequent concerns for food security, are directly linked to the effects of climate change, particularly in coastal areas where melting sea ice, erratic weather events and changes in the stability of landscapes (e.g., erosion, slumping) are leading to increased risks for land users. Natural resource development, while creating some new economic opportunities, may be compounding rather than offsetting such stresses of environmental change for vulnerable populations. While the IPY program has contributed to our understanding of some aspects of well-being in the arctic, many other issues of social, economic, cultural and political significance, including those unrelated to environmental change, remain poorly understood. Copyright The Author(s) 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Brenda Parlee & Chris Furgal, 2012. "Well-being and environmental change in the arctic: a synthesis of selected research from Canada’s International Polar Year program," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 115(1), pages 13-34, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:115:y:2012:i:1:p:13-34
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0588-0

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ananta Kumar Giri, 2000. "Rethinking human well-being: a dialogue with Amartya Sen," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(7), pages 1003-1018.
    2. Colin West, 2011. "The survey of living conditions in the Arctic (SLiCA): A comparative sustainable livelihoods assessment," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 217-235, February.
    3. Thomas Andersen & Birger Poppel, 2002. "Living Conditions in the Arctic," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 191-216, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:115:y:2012:i:1:p:13-34. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.