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Climate Change and the Arctic: Profound Disruption, Uncertain Impact

Date & Time

Apr. 23, 2021
8:30am – 5:00pm ET


The Arctic feels the impact of climate change more intensely than the rest of the globe. Regardless of national and international efforts to mitigate the emissions that drive climate change, much of the ongoing change in the Arctic is already established and will continue to accelerate. These changes will dramatically affect not only the Arctic’s environment, but also its security, defense, and ability to be exploited for its resources and used for transportation. This year's annual conference will delve into these emerging issues in the Arctic from the perspective of trans-border impact, initiatives and need for cooperation. Our expert panelists and distinguished lecturers will cover issues ranging from the concrete change taking place, to emerging national security issues, to economic growth and regulation, to the impact on and role of indigenous peoples. Our guests and presenters from government, academia, and industry will review these topics from their national and sector viewpoints and engage the audience in much-needed dialogue on the issues.


8:30 AM | Welcome and Introduction

  • Dean Erika Chamberlain, President, Canada-United States Law Institute, Dean of Law, University of Western Ontario Faculty of Law 
  • Dean Michael P. Scharf, President, Canada-United States Law Institute, Dean, Case Western Reserve University School of Law

8:45 AM | Climate Change’s Profound Disruption of the Arctic

  • Moderator: Dr. Michael Sfraga, PhD, Director of the Polar Institute and Director of the Global Risk and Resilience Program, Woodrow Wilson Institute International Center for Scholars 
  • Prof. Hajo Eicken, Ph.D., Director of the International Arctic Research Center and Professor of Geophysics and at the University of Alaska Fairbanks  

  • Prof. Marcel Babin, Ph.D., Université Laval, Québec, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Remote Sensing of Canada's New Arctic Frontier   

10:00 AM | The Arctic as Emerging Geopolitical Flashpoint

  • Moderator: Prof. Robert Huebert, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Calgary Department of Political Science, former member of the Canadian Polar Commission 
  • Prof. Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law, University of British Columbia, author of “International Law and the Arctic” (Cambridge University Press)

  • Rear Admiral Martin La Cour-Andersen, Defense Attaché to the United States and Canada, Embassy of Denmark in the United States, Danish Department of Defense

  • Prof. Rebecca Pincus, Assistant Professor at the United States Naval War College, former Chair of Arctic Policy at the United States Coast Guard Academy

  • Jonathon Quinn, Director General of Continental Defence, Department of National Defence, Government of Canada

11:40 AM | Canadian Distinguished Lecture

  • Opening remarks: The Honourable James Peterson, Counsel, Fasken LLP, former Canadian Minister of International Trade, Member of Canadian Parliament 
  • Introduction: Consul General Joe Comartin, Consul General of Canada in Detroit, former Member of Canadian Parliament

  • Canadian Lecturer: Peter MacKay PC QC, Canada-United States Law Institute Executive Committee, former Canadian Minister of National Defence, Attorney General, and Minister of Justice, and Minister of Canadian Parliament

12:35 PM | Lunchtime Awards Ceremony

  • Henry T. King Award Presentation – presented by Lawrence Herman, Canada-United States Law Institute Executive Committee, Principal at Herman and Associates, Counsel at Cassidy Levy Kent, Senior Fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute

  • Professor Sidney J. Picker Award Presentation – presented by Stephen J. Petras, Jr., U.S. Director, Canada-United States Law Institute, Director, Frederick K. Cox International Law Center, Chair, Council of the Great Lakes Region 

12:55 PM | United States Distinguished Lecture

  • Opening remarks: The Honorable James Blanchard, Partner, DLA Piper LLP, former Governor of Michigan, United States Ambassador to Canada, United States Representative 
  • Introduction: Katherine Brucker, Chargé d’Affaires, United States Mission to Canada, United States Department of States

  • United States Lecturer: James P. DeHart, United States Coordinator for the Arctic Region, United States Department of State  

1:50 PM | Tensions and Opportunity in Arctic Development and Stewardship

  • Moderator: Prof. Jonathan Adler, Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law, and Director, Coleman P. Burke Center for Environmental Law at CWRU School of Law 
  • Prof. Charles F. Doran, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of International Relations, Director of Canadian Studies, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies 

  • Hugh S. Short, Chairman & CEO, PT Capital, former Chairman of the Alaska Industrial Development Authority, former Mayor of Bethel, Alaska  

  • Martha Hall Findlay, Chief Sustainability Officer, Suncor Energy Inc., member of the Canadian Minister of International Trade’s Trade Expert Advisory Council, former Member of Canadian Parliament 

  • Rosemary A. McCarney, Massey College Senior Fellow in Foreign and Defense Policy, Pearson Sabia Visiting Professor in Int’l Relations, Trinity College, University of Toronto, Former Canadian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and the Conference on Disarmament

3:30 PM | Indigenous Leadership on Climate Change and the Arctic

  • Moderator: Wayne D. Garnons-Williams, Chair, International Intertribal Trade and Investment Organization, and Director, Council of the Great Lakes Region 
  • Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough, PhD, Chair, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Senior Scholar and Special Advisor on Arctic Indigenous Peoples, University of Alaska Anchorage

  • Dr. Heather Pirot, PhD, Board Member, Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network, former Indigenous Engagement Coordinator, University of Saskatchewan

  • Kitty Gordon, Assistant to the Public Health Director of the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services  

4:45 PM |  Closing Remarks

  • Prof. Chios Carmody, Canadian National Director, Canada-United States Law Institute, Associate Professor, University of Western Ontario Faculty of Law

Hosted By

Canada Institute

Bound by common geopolitical interests and strong economic and cultural ties, Canada and the United States enjoy the world's most successful bilateral relationship. The Wilson Center's Canada Institute is the only public policy forum in the world dedicated to the full spectrum of Canada-U.S. issues. The Canada Institute is a global leader for policymakers, academics and business leaders to engage in non-partisan, informed dialogue about the current and future state of the relationship.     Read more

Polar Institute

Since its inception in 2017, the Polar Institute has become a premier forum for discussion and policy analysis of Arctic and Antarctic issues, and is known in Washington, DC and elsewhere as the Arctic Public Square. The Institute holistically studies the central policy issues facing these regions—with an emphasis on Arctic governance, climate change, economic development, scientific research, security, and Indigenous communities—and communicates trusted analysis to policymakers and other stakeholders.  Read more

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