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Arctic Food Security: How to Assess Food Security from an Inuit Perspective

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Published on May 28, 2013

Mrs Carolina Behe

Inuit possess a unique understanding of food security within the Arctic; viewing food security to encompasses both cultural and environmental systems; systems which interlink and support each other. While many changes are taking affect within Arctic ecosystems, primarily resulting from climate change and industrialization, food security is becoming a central topic of conversation. In response to the need to address food (in)/security of traditional food resources within a changing Arctic, the Inuit Circumpolar-Council Alaska (ICC-AK), has commenced building a framework on how to assess food security from an Inuit perspective. The project builds upon the support of the ICC-AK board's decision to place food security as its first priority. Three objectives will be met within this project: 1) provide an Inuit understanding of Arctic food security; 2) prioritization of Inuit concerns which impact food security; 3) provide a tool to assess food security across both cultural and environmental systems. Throughout the project; the Inuit perspective and traditional knowledge (TK) will be sought and developed through semi-directive interviews, community meetings, and information gained from previous projects and regional workshops. The developed framework will be shared with the Arctic Council with encouragement to conduct the assessment throughout Alaska and the entire Arctic.

Speaker Bio/s

Carolina Behe
Arctic Food Security: Building a Conceptual Framework on How to Assess Food Security from an Inuit Perspective

Carolina is the Traditional Knowledge/Science expert for the Inuit Circumpolar Council-Alaska (ICC-AK). Within this position, she represents ICC-AK on various topics, which engage in both Traditional Knowledge and science, from resource management, to methods of conducting research and community engagement, to acting as the principle investigator on research projects.
Carolina holds a diverse background. Prior to this position, she worked as a commercial fisher within Alaska and the South Pacific and as a marine technician within Antarctica. She has conducted independent research within East Africa and investigated the meaning of food security and impact of climate change within a Yup'ik village. Through these experiences Carolina has gained experience in both the physical and social science disciplines and in communicating the importance of Traditional Knowledge as an equal knowledge source to science, one that is necessary to understanding the changes taking place in our world today.
Carolina's current work is focused on the development of a food security assessment tool from an Inuit perspective. Throughout this project, she is working with Alaska Inuit to define Inuit food security, identify drivers of food in/security, and identify methods of monitoring and measuring found drivers, using both Traditional Knowledge and Science. This project aims to bring the Inuit values and knowledge of changes occurring within the Arctic to decision makers.
With the understanding that decision makers require the best available knowledge to make adaptive decisions, Carolina advocates for the use of participatory approaches to research, within her work in Alaska and at the Arctic Council. Within the Arctic Council, Carolina represents ICC on the board of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF). Carolina's efforts within CAFF have been focused on a project, entitled Circumpolar Based Monitoring Plan (CBMP) and serves as a technical expert and ICC representative on the Marine Expert Monitoring Program and Terrestrial Expert Monitoring Program steering boards. Within these boards she works with scientists to develop methodologies, which employ both Traditional Knowledge and science, and communicates Inuit concerns and priorities.
Education: Master's in Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Committees: Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic; Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee; and Circumpolar Based Monitoring Plan.

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