Blog post by Dr Emma Wilson and Professor Indra Overland
A pioneering new international panel is currently recruiting members to help promote better environmental performance in Arctic resource extraction industries, while pushing the boundaries of applied research.
The International Panel on Arctic Environmental Responsibility (IPAER) was introduced to London audiences on 17th October 2018 at University College London (UCL), at an event hosted by the London Polar Group and the Polar Research and Policy Initiative. The session was led by the architect of IPAER, Research Professor Indra Overland of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) in Oslo, and Dr Emma Wilson, independent researcher and consultant, who is an IPAER Advisory Board member. The aim of the event was to raise awareness about the initiative, stimulate debate and encourage new members to join.
The IPAER is an independent group of experts who have been tasked with assessing the environmental performance of oil, gas and mining companies in the Arctic, based on their professional or lived experience of these industries.
Issues to be considered by the Panel range from conservation to pollution prevention, from Indigenous rights to transparency and public reporting. Panel members are expected to be experts in some, but not all, of these questions. The IPAER aims to cover the full range of issues by recruiting a balanced and broad range of Panel members, including technical industry experts, local community and civil society representatives, academics, industry consultants, journalists and regulators.
Panel members take part in a simple perceptions survey, which requires them to identify the companies they are familiar with and then rank them in relation to one another. The results will be published as an open-access ranking of companies.
Panel members are expected to base their perceptions on the facts and realities that they have encountered through their professional and lived experience. Where perceptions are not based on fact, but on lack of information or misinformation, this raises the issue of more effective, accurate and well-targeted communication on the part of industry, the government, the media and civil society. We hope the IPAER can trigger more of a debate around this question, and ensure that the right issues are discussed more objectively in the public domain.
The IPAER is an experiment in what could be called ‘governance without enforcement’, as a complement to legal and formal regulation. We hope that it will trigger public debate and dialogue, internal corporate thinking, and proactive responses from industry, stimulating an environmental ‘race to the top’. But its success depends on our ability to recruit as many Panel members as possible.
If you would like to become a member of the Panel, we would love to hear from you!
Research Professor Indra Overland: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Emma Wilson: email@example.com
Hammerfest, Norway photo credit: Dr Ilan Kelman
Damaged forest at old drilling site, Komi Republic, Russia photo credit: Dr Emma Wilson