French contributions to the Arctic Circle Assembly | Polarjournal

Three days with 100% Arctic, focused on future challenges in all fields: energy, community development, large-scale economy… Thousands of participants packed Reykjavik’s convention center. Hundreds of presentations, round tables, plenary sessions and private meetings filled the sound space of the main hall and conference rooms of the Harpa Centre. France was represented, albeit modestly compared to other European countries, despite its great potential. Experts in logistics, geopolitics and the natural sciences, not forgetting the NGO Le Cercle Polaire, which works to ensure that the voice of women explorers and adventurers is more widely heard andthe One Planet – Polar Summit.

Extracts from the One Planet – Polar Summit keynote speech by Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, Antje Boetius and Jérôme Chappellaz. The set was co-hosted by former Icelandic president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Video : Camille Lin / PolarJournal

Regrouping international attention around the poles and the cryosphere is something France is keen to do, and which it could take advantage of to lead on behalf of the European Union on the international stage, as suggested by Émilie Canova, a researcher in Arctic geopolitics at Cambridge University.

Geographer Émilie Canova and biologist Franck Lejzerowicz, asked about their areas of expertise and their presence at the Arctic Circle Assembly. Video : Camille Lin / PolarJournal

Observing and studying the polar oceans is costly, and has a significant environmental footprint. Yet it is essential if the impact of human activity is to be assessed. And France has a wealth of experience in Antarctic and Arctic research. Jérôme Chappellaz, former director of the French Polar Institute, was invited to share his experience as a specialist in logistics as well as a researcher. According to him, time is running out and research needs to be decarbonized. No ship or plane should leave or return from Antarctica without being filled to its maximum carrying capacity, and for this to happen, nations need to cooperate all the more. Transport can be reduced through the use of automated systems. As illustrated by the example of the four-metre sail-powered solar float developed by Saildrone, which circumnavigated Antarctica for 200 days, measuring carbon dioxide on the ocean surface. Deploying sensors on animals accessing unreachable spaces also has its advantages. For Jérôme Chappellaz (below), every effort must be made to reduce emissions.

A challenge taken up by the participants of the Arctic Circle Assembly. France’s Anne Quéméré ventured across the Northwest Passage in a solar-powered boat.

Women of the Poles, a project of the NGO Le Cercle Polaire, highlights women navigators and explorers of the poles. Video : Camille Lin / PolarJournal

A number of students attended the various conferences, including some from France. It was certainly an excellent place to meet and exchange ideas, and to explore one’s career path.

Camille Lin, PolarJournal

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