Arctic News Roundup: 29 March – 4 April

[Photo by Marc Lanteigne]

by Mingming Shi

1) As the Reykjavík Grapevine reported, Iceland is ranked the top in terms of gender equality, (for the 12th time), in the Global Gender Gap Report 2021, conducted by the World Economic Forum. However, as the Prime Minister of the country, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, has commented, Iceland has not completely eliminated gender inequality, as well as the increasing domestic violence during the pandemic.

2) Heavy snowfall in Europe in the past few winters may be a direct result of decreasing ice in the Barents Sea, as described in a feature story by National Geographic. Some research has proven that, because of climate change and warmer temperature, evaporation from the Arctic Ocean has fuelled increased snow levels in much of Europe. Some scientists assume that this model may become a trend in the future. 

3) According to CBC News, the Yukon Poverty Report Card 2020, published by the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, provides ten recommendations to reduce poverty levels in the region. These include the lowering of rents and building more low-income housing, as well as a potential increase in the minimum wage. This was the first such study of its kind in the territory. However, how the government will address these issues remains to be determined.

4) The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) has suggested further steps in the country’s COVID-19 vaccination policies to allow for shots to be given to the younger population, as reported by The Local NO, noting the news from NRK. The idea is based on several considerations, as the specialists of the organisation have explained. For instance, children and youth are also vulnerable to the virus and their inoculation is seen as required to help foster herd immunity. Currently, only people over 18 are receiving vaccines against the coronavirus. 

5) Visit Greenland, a government owned tourism promotion board, has warned that the island should prepare for a slack period for the upcoming summer season, due to the country’s ongoing entry restrictions to guard against the COVID-19 pandemic. As Arctic Today pointed out, local tourism had already suffered from a sharp decline in the summer last year.

6) Rhiannon Bourassa, a teacher at Iqaluit’s Aqsarniit Middle School in Northern Canada, gives classes to her young students on how to distinguish information from misinformation found online, as written in Nunatsiaq News. The main purpose of these lessons is to educate the students to better comprehend materials on the internet in a more critical way, with various case examples from broadsheet news reports, editorials, and tabloids.

7) In a comment in Singapore’s Straits Times, the recent incident involving the blockage of the Suez Canal in Egypt by the wayward cargo vessel Ever Given suggested the need to develop alternative maritime trade routes, including via the Arctic Ocean, as the region becomes more navigable in the summer months. Russian authorities have also been quick to tout the possibility of the Northern Sea Route as an alternative maritime corridor given the perceived vulnerability of the Suez region to traffic stoppage.