Breakout session results: Where do we go from here?


8th Circumpolar Agriculture Association, UArctic Northern Food Security Thematic Network joint conference, Girdwood, Alaska, USA  Sept. 29 – Oct. 3, 2013.

“Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in the Circumpolar North”

Approximately 140 registrants


Break Out Session Question:

If you had the opportunity to send a message to Policy Makers, Governments, Arctic Council, CAA, etc.

what would be your top 3-4 insights including highlights/barriers/opportunities?

Across all Sessions:




  1. I.                   GUIDING PRINCIPLES:


  • Multi-disciplinary approach imperative (animal health, human health, environment).  Identify “commons”, work for common good.                                                                         
  • Systems approach
  • Best Practices


  • Need a paradigm shift in approach—look at “full” picture cost accounting—need to evaluate programs/projects in terms other than economic feasibility/sustainability.              
  • Move away from monetary thinking
  • Move away from exclusive economic thinking                                                                                 
  • Use old/new way of thinking about food systems of where we live.
  • Look at food as sacred—be grateful—eat little.


  • Living in the north is the common denominator, place/space policy requires knowledge of the area
  • Focus on Resource/Information Sharing
  • Need to work from bottom up;
  • Need to support grassroots initiatives;
  • Food Security:  Best achieved at the local level
  • Responsible economic development that respects the environment + local food systems.
  • Preserve ecological systems that are vital—our water, etc.
  • Think local, build on traditional economies.
  • Value our communities peoples.
  • Small—family—community—territory—nation (SHARE)


  • The policies we develop—need to mesh so they flow rather than block
  • Reduce Bureaucracy
  • Increased collaboration across all barriers
  • Changes in regulations—does not threaten food on national security.


  • Science needs to support all above—universities.


  • Plan 25 yrs. ahead—how are our children going to eat—the natural world will be much different, radically different.  All our efforts need to be in figuring out how to make that a better world to live in.



  1. II.                 BARRIERS/CHALLENGES:


  • Lack of Education
  • Need to get rid of silos we work/live in
  • Climate Change
  • Cross border/customs is a hindrance for trade/production.
  • Cultural change for countries—“Food is not just food.”
  • Seed security (Homeland security)—difficult to share seed/animals:  is security at the right level?
  • Science crosses borders—what can science do to identify barriers, risks, sharing.





  • Downstream savings of having a local food supply
  • Determining value of creating opportunity
  • Economic benefit of local food systems
  • Tying local food systems to economic development
  • The way we educate—use systems and indigenous knowledge
  • Must inform decision makers about the benefits of N. Agriculture
  • Increasing population—need more food
  • Sharing successful models from hunter/gatherers around food sharing systems to address food security.


  1. IV.              ACTION:


  • Ensure cooperative activities “conceived” at the conference move forward towards implementation.


  • Educational Outreach
  • Increased awareness—education–outreach
  • Hands on education to build capacity
  • Hands-on demonstration education
  • Humans are healthier when connected to the land.  Need to educate youth to maintain connection, need experiential education “get dirty”.
  • Education/training are key
  • Education especially youth—need national policy/curriculum in schools.
  • Greenhouses in schools (e.g. use of waste heat to heat greenhouses)


  • Economic analysis of local food
  • Economic Viability
  • Shifts in how we evaluate the ‘economics’ of northern grown food.
  • Improve communication between agencies + businesses + develop common policy to address whole cost accounting.
  • Determine the economic, social + health benefits of a local food system.


  • Enable community (and inter-community) trade of locally produced + harvested foods—reduce barriers to this happening.                                                        
  • Should be easier to share food across borders—risk vs. benefit at societal level.  Food Sovereignty?                                                                                                                   
  • Make food systems available to neighbouring provinces, territories—AK.  Open dialogue on sustainable food systems available locally.
  • Provide a forum for community identification of policy + food safety issues—ground up approach.
  • “Northern Ag Policy”
  • Regulations that allow farmers to efficiency produce food, but keep foods safe.
  • Upfront investment in community infrastructure that reduces the need for imported products.


  • A national goal for increasing the degree of self-sufficiency (e.g. 1% per year).                                               
  • Competence building—Targets incentives & [provides an] instrument to enhance circumpolar cooperation.
  • Circumpolar science needs to focus on creating dialogue seriously about survival issues—assist communities to become more self-sufficient.
  • Canada must create a National Food Policy/Strategy—a Northern Food Strategy.


  • Transportation subsidies so that the price of groceries (excluding junk food) will become more  even all over the country.


  • More focus on efficient food use/reduction of food waste


  • Long-term monitoring of food systems, food frequency—include in Health Impact Assessments
  • Arctic qualities – documentation.


  • Increase renewable energy development to allow Arctic inhabitants to have more available access to food by decreasing heating costs, more resources for purchasing food and accessing traditional foods.  Development of energy efficient housing.


  • Basic Agricultural & Agronomic subjects and science:  crops and production systems, adaptation to climate change.


  • May have biggest impact on the Arctic Council.  We should meet with them and invite to next CAC and emphasize how agriculture is important to communities and society we are part of the economy and not food.


  • Were local legislators invited?  More visibility of AK Food Policy Council.


  • Identify common challenges, bring awareness to policy makers for northern regions and interests (climate change, socio-economic change in local communities, strongly linked).
  • Identify interest of stakeholders—many levels, future generations.


  • Develop mind set for local sustainability.


  • Develop markets for local food production.


  • We must seize the opportunity that is climate change.  More money need to go into breeding and environmental studies so that we can prepare for new climates and here this becomes an issue for the European Union.
  • Plant Breeding collaboration—more market.  Costly to start, could spread effort.



  1. V.                IMPLEMENTATION (HOW):


  • Project-based Circumpolar/Cross Border Working Groups.
  • Identify and select projects.
  • Identify a champion for each project.
  • Integrate members from Thematic Networks, CAA
  • Funding Sources
  • Target:  Deliverables reported at next joint CAA/UArctic Northern Food Security Thematic network meet in Iceland.