were already well organized, allowing for effective engagement of key stakeholders, which might not be the case in other regions.

Creating Valued Products. The full ACIA scientific report was released in the summer of 2005 (ACIA 2005) and it is still early to make a comprehensive judgment on its overall impact. Yet it seems clear from media reports and other indicators, including references in the U.S. Congress, that the assessment attracted significant attention to emerging climate-related problems in the Arctic. As mentioned above, observed changes on the ground (e.g., summer sea ice extent, decrease in permafrost) are likely to contribute to the timeliness of this assessment and its perceived salience.

Key Strengths and Weaknesses of the ACIA. This assessment was completed fairly recently and many of its effects may manifest in the future; however, the following strengths and weaknesses can be identified.


  • A clear and strong mandate with support from decision makers.

  • A well-planned, coordinated, and executed communication strategy.

  • A transparent model for the science-policy interface during design, implementation, and review.

  • Achieved prominence, in part because it was conducted at the same time as some major changes in the Arctic environment, attributable to climate change, were occurring and covered by the major media outlets.


  • Funding was difficult to secure and not uniform across the participating nations; funds were insufficient to support the entire communication plan (e.g., no funds for printing additional copies of the report).

  • Economic impacts were inadequately addressed.

  • There was no cohesive plan for follow-up activities.


The impetus for the MA (2005a,b) came from many sources, and it was supported by a broad private and intergovernmental constituency. A number of UN conventions deal with a variety of natural resource issues: loss of biodiversity, degradation of arid lands and of wetlands, threats to migratory species, and climate change, which affects all of these changes. The MA was designed to serve these conventions with an innovative construct to answer the fundamental question: What are the consequences of environmental

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