Third EA International Conference (2024)

The 3rd International conference on the Ecosystem Approach to Management in Arctic Large Marine Ecosystems
Ecosystem Based Management in a Rapidly Warming Arctic
Sharing experiences and challenges
Venue: Fram Center, Tromsø, Norway
Dates: 15-18 April 2024

Conference speakers, abstracts, presentations and videos have been made available:
Conference agenda is available here:

shutterstock 2386708379 LargeThe Arctic Council, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the United Nations (UN) all acknowledge that the Arctic temperatures are rising faster than any other place on Earth. This is changing the Arctic in visible ways and at an unprecedented speed. Consequences will be far-reaching for marine ecosystems, and the people and communities that rely on them for their livelihoods and cultures.

As the sea ice retreats and the Arctic Ocean becomes increasingly accessible, pressures from human activities are also increasing. These growing pressures increase the risks marine ecosystems and biodiversity are facing and threaten current approaches to marine management and conservation.

Ecosystem-based Management (EBM) is endorsed at the highest level, including UN bodies and states. The Arctic Council embraces Ecosystem-Based Management of human activities in the Arctic to achieve sustainable use of ecosystem goods and services and maintenance of ecosystem integrity and is issuing guidance for its implementation that involve Indigenous peoples, local communities and industry stakeholders. Likewise, EBM is increasingly a topic of interest in universities and academia.

Arctic Council Ministers agreed in 2013 (Kiruna Declaration) to the following definition for EBM:

"Comprehensive, integrated management of human activities based on best available scientific and traditional knowledge about the ecosystem and its dynamics, in order to identify and take action on influences that are critical to the health of ecosystems, thereby achieving sustainable use of ecosystem goods and services and maintenance of ecosystem integrity."

In the Arctic, we are faced with applying EBM in a situation where marine ecosystems are changing fundamentally.  How should EBM be pursued when future environmental conditions are increasingly uncertain, rendering data on past conditions are questionable as guides to future dynamics? How should EBM be pursued when the use of Arctic seas for transport and industry is continuously expanding, creating new and expanded pressures in the Arctic?

What We Like to Do:
This conference will exchange current lessons and best practices for the implementation of EBM in the Arctic and examine how these practices reflects the knowledge, the goals, the advise, and the voices of the people living in and from the Arctic. We explore pathways toward a future with a holistic perspective in managing the regions fast changing marine ecosystem. 


Who do we Invite:

Through three sessions, that encapsulate different parts of the EBM we invite:

  • Keynote speakers to inspire and challenge us.
  • Scientists, early career scientists, students (and youth) to present their fields of study (or questions).
  • Indigenous Knowledge holders to share and provide guidance based on their cultural values, worldviews, and perspectives.
  • Governing bodies to disentangle the challenges of cross-sectorial approaches and explore how they can contribute to apply holistic ecosystem knowledge to decisions, management, and operations in an evolving Arctic.

Conference Sessions
Session 1:
Cooperation and governance for EBM - status and shared experiences across Arctic marine ecosystems

In this session, management practitioners and authorities at various levels of governance in the Arctic nations will discuss how they apply components of an Ecosystem Approach at local, national, and regional levels. Management practitioners and authorities will also address what is being done to effectively employ EBM and enhance cooperation across jurisdictions in the face of rapid change.

  1. What is the status of and latest developments on EBM in Arctic marine ecosystems?
  2. How do managers involve and work across different national sectors, including food, security, transport, energy, etc., and what are the main challenges they face?
  3. How can EBM become more flexible and adaptive to changing climate and environmental conditions?
  4. Are we sufficiently adapting our management approaches in the face of environmental and societal change? What are the costs and impediments of adaptation, and how could adaptation be done more effectively?
  5. How do we make EBM more robust in the context of changing political priorities and economic interests, and what will be the role of Arctic cooperation in this regard?
  6. What are the benefits, costs, and risk of employing an EBM approach to marine ecosystems, potentially spanning across national jurisdictions and areas beyond national jurisdiction?
  7. What could be the role of Integrated Ecosystem Assessments in enhancing coordination, and is there a case for closer cooperation and coordination of area-based measures across jurisdictions?
  8. How is Indigenous participation considered in supporting decision-making and EBM?
Session 2:
Exploring multiple knowledge systems to improve integrated ecosystem assessments

In this session, we ask how research, monitoring and assessment of Arctic Ocean ecosystems can provide and add to the best available knowledge from science, Indigenous Peoples, and people living in and of the Arctic. What tools and methods to use for integrating evidence-based knowledge into assessments.

  1. What methods and techniques have been used in Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEA), addressing human activities and their pressures in marine ecosystems, and what are the main conclusions?
  2. What area-based management tools, methods, and techniques are being used to identify priority areas for conserving or especially managing species, habitats and ecosystem processes and functions, and what has been learned about factors affecting their performance?
  3. How can we effectively use IEA knowledge in marine spatial planning (MSP) or ocean management and to understand the necessary trade-offs between the use of marine resources and their conservation?
  4. How effectively is data made available, standardized, harmonized, and used for obtaining information on relevant parts of ecosystems and habitats?
  5. How is Indigenous Knowledge considered in ecosystem assessment? and how can we use information from the different knowledge systems to increase understanding of the activities of the people living in and of the Arctic, including Indigenous Peoples Conservation Areas (IPCA’s)
  6. How should we deal with knowledge gaps, and what approaches to management and conservation are robust under uncertainty and in data-poor areas?
Session 3:
How can we establish participation, knowledge exchange and scientific integrity in EBM policy-making

In this session, we ask how effective the communication ae between EBM governance institutions and the institutions providing evidence-based knowledge. This critical line of communication shall provide advice for iterative and adaptive decision-making through the proposal of Ecological Goals, and by giving clear and evidence-based advice on how the goals can be reached. This section will also address the importance of rightsholders and stakeholder involvement throughout the entirety of the decision-making process.

  1. Do we have clear enough national and international goals to ensure direction and relevance to the work on IEA and MSP in the Arctic?
  2. What do the goals of the new global framework for biodiversity mean for EBM of Arctic Marine Ecosystems, and how is this reflected in the knowledge-policy dialogue?
  3. How can we create evidence-based advice that effectively informs policy development and decision-making, and who should guide the dialogue between science and policy and create the advice?
  4. What are the barriers to making the advisory process operational?
  5. Who needs to be involved in creating the evidence base, policy development and decision-making?
  6. What tools are available to enhance and improve the synergies between scientific, Indigenous, and local knowledge in all parts of EBM?
  7. In what ways are different sectors, stakeholders, and Rightsholders involved in EBM, and in what forms can information be effectively and respectfully exchanged among research institutions, Indigenous knowledge holders, and governance structures?
  8. What can we do to ensure the scientific integrity of the knowledge base for management?

iStock 683114562How Will We Do It

We will begin each day with a series of relevant presentations followed by questions and a panel debate convened by the Arctic Council working groups. After the presentations and the Panel debate, we will continue the discussions and knowledge exchange during Poster sessions, World-cafes and Fish-bowls and other university-level happenings. We will also summarize lessons learned and making this public available after the conference, continue to build on experiences from the Conferences and ongoing work within the Joint EA Expert Group (PAME, CAFF, AMAP and SDWG) in the Arctic Council (use link above for more info). We will use all experiences and lessons in planning the next EA Conference.

Co-conveners and Organizing Committee 

The organizing committee consists of the Arctic Council working groups PAME, AMAP, CAFF and SDWG, as well as the experts from Arctic Council member states, Permanent Participants and Observer organizations ICES and WWF.

The financial sponsor of this conference is the Norwegian Chair-ship of the Arctic Council, the Institute of Marine Research in Tromsø, Norway, and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and Tromsø Municipality.

The Universities in the Arctic will support and facilitate the Conference with early career scientists and events.

Co-convened by

The Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) Framework consists of six related elements.
  1. Identify the geographic extent of the ecosystem
  2. Describe the biological and physical components and processes of the ecosystem including humans
  3. Set ecological objectives that define sustainability of the ecosystem
  4. Assess the current state of the ecosystem (Integrated Ecosystem Assessment)
  5. Value the cultural, social, and economic goods produced by the ecosystem
  6. Manage human activities to sustain the ecosystem

The Joint EA Expert Group are currently assembling new knowledge of the Ecosystem based Management that includes “Monitoring” and how area-based tools such as MPAs and OECMs fits into the framework, a broader perspective on Value and Valuation, a wider use of the “Ecological Objectives” and the inclusion of “Evidence-based Advice”.
Work in progress will move from the existing 6-point linier framework (see above) to an iterative circular EA process as tentative exemplified here:

Background of the Ecosystem Based Management

The Ecosystem Based Management (also called Ecosystem Approach “EA”) have been considered within governance for the last two decades and considered by indigenous knowledge holders from time immemorial. In 2004, as a part of the Arctic Marine Strategic Plan (AMSP), the Arctic Council Ministerial approved the Ecosystem Based Management as an overarching principle and approach to Arctic governance. The definition of Ecosystem Based Management (see above) along with principles and recommendations were adopted (Kiruna Declaration 2013). In its 2015 and 2017 ministerial declarations, the Arctic Council requested and encouraged the development of practical guidelines for Ecosystem Based Management implementation in the Arctic. The Ecosystem Based Management expert group in PAME became the Joint EA Expert Group with three other Arctic Council working groups (AMAP, CAFF, and SDWG). The Guidelines for implementing Ecosystem Based Management of Arctic Marine Ecosystems were welcomed by the 2019 Arctic Council ministerial.

For more than a decade The Joint EA Expert Group have developed the scientific, policy, and indigenous and local knowledge foundations to enable the implementation of the ecosystem approach. This work includes several Reports, a number of Workshops, and two international conferences.

First International Conference (2016)
Second International Conference (2019)

Session 1: Integrated Ecosystem Assessment
Session 2: MPAs and other special areas
Session 3: Voices from the North – a conversation about people, nature, and sustainability
Session 4: National EA implementation
Session 5: Central Arctic Ocean

Session 1: The Vision and Role of the Arctic Council
Session 2: Status and Experiences from National Implementation
Session 3: Making EA operational: Developing the knowledge base and enabling activities
Session 4: Case studies: Steps toward implementation
Session 5: Pan-Arctic Marine Science and Policy
Session 6: Status of Implementing the Ecosystem Approach to Management in the Arctic

Key background documents and further information

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