Symposium: Sustainable use of resources in Polar regions

Welcome by Louwrens Hacquebord


The Arctic is on the threshold of a new era: an era with greatly reduced ice and apparently unlimited economic and technological challenges. The expectations of future energy supply are very high: according to the US Geological Survey 13 % of the world’ undiscovered oil and 30% of the world’ undiscovered gas are expected to be found there. In addition to oil and natural gas, there are more minerals to be exploited in the Arctic. Iron, lead, zinc, and diamond are found in great quantities in the region. These ore supplies are under development in several places in the Arctic. The possibilities of resource development attract the (economic) attention of the world on the one hand but make the region subject to considerable environmental concern on the other hand.
At the moment oil and gas exploitation is concentrated in two areas: the Barents Sea /Kara Sea region and the Beaufort Sea region. In the Barents Sea region, oil and gas exploitation are very promising. The biggest offshore gas field in the world is to be found here: the so-called Stockmann field. The development of this field is in the hands of a consortium of Gazprom, Total, Statoil and Norsk Hydro but the project is proceeding at a very slow pace. Oil and gas prospects within the Norwegian Exclusive Economic Zone in the Barents Sea are very promising and despite environmental protests the platforms Snøvite and Goliat have been taken into production recently.
History teaches us that unlimited, market driven exploitation of natural resources has an enormous impact on the fragile natural environment in the Arctic and frequently leads to the exhaustion of the resource. The protection of the fragile Arctic environment will therefore need a sustainable approach of resource development.
In 1596 Willem Barentsz took off to find a northern sea route for the third time. In these days, it took a lot of courage and a strong will to explore these new areas and to find a new sea route. More than four hundred years later a group of Dutch researchers took the initiative to establish a Netherlands Polar Institute. We honor Willem Barentsz by naming this new Netherlands Polar Institute after him and we realize that we need a great deal of courage and a strong will to make this initiative a success.
The aim of the Willem Barentsz Polar Institute is to obtain a structural co-operation within Dutch Polar research. WBPI wants to be an umbrella for the Polar Research community in the Netherlands. The WBPI wishes to enhance the co-operation between Dutch polar researchers and contribute to polar education and outreach activities. The WBPI aspires to give a positive boost to new Dutch research initiatives in the polar areas. We hope to create an organization that is a clear contact point of Dutch research in polar areas for the national and international field. We are hopeful about the future of Polar research in the Netherlands. A new talented generation of Dutch Polar researchers is on the way. These excellent young researchers have started their own network, the NLPN, and have organized the second day of this symposium, with interesting speakers and workshops. We are honored to have the Norwegian Embassy as co-sponsor of the Thursday afternoon program and are thankful for the reception they offered us.
We also like to thank the speakers for their contributions.
I wish you all an inspiring symposium.

Willem Barentsz Poolinstituut

Bundeling van kennis, onderzoek en onderwijs over de Noord- en de Zuidpool

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