Sustainable Development Goals in the Arctic: The Nexus Between Water, Energy, and Food (WEF)

In 2017, the Arctic Council, under the Finnish Chair, recognized the importance of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); noting that the SDGs are global in scope but are amendable to the sustainable development of Arctic regions (Government of Finland, 2017). In that same year the Arctic Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) acknowledged that UN Agenda 2030 resonates with its work and that its activities contribute towards achieving SDG targets for advancing its sustainable development agenda (SDWG, 2017). However, before those linkages could be further explored, the SDWG emphasized the need to better understand the nexus—or the connections and interactions—that occur between SDG targets themselves. Members of the SDWG cautioned that failing to consider the nexus between SDG targets could result in ill-informed and unintended policy outcomes, whereas an accurate accounting of the synergies and trade-offs between SDG targets could inform more sustainable policy solutions. This research is a response to that call.

This research will examine the nexus between SDG 2 - Ending hunger and achieving Food security for all; SDG 6 – Ensuring the availability and sustainable management of Water and sanitation for all; and SDG 7 - Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern Energy for all. Over the past decade, WEF-SDG nexus studies have been conducted at the global, national, and regional levels, and all have concluded that WEF nexus research is informative for resource planning and developing effective policies for sustainable development (Pittock et al., 2015).

This research will be the first WEF nexus study conducted in the Arctic and aims to go beyond the production knowledge towards concrete tools, giving both the Arctic Council and the SDWG an opportunity to be innovative in both respects. It will involve collaboration between SECEG representatives and their networks, other Arctic Council Working Groups, Indigenous Permanent Participant Organizations, academic institutions, Arctic Council observers and other relevant circumpolar organizations. Together we will advance integrative thinking that reflects the interconnectedness within WEF systems in ways that will lead to the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the Arctic.

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Canada, Finland, Iceland

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