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The Session

 

“High North – High Temperature” is the title of this 63d international session of the European Youth Parliament in Tromsø. We want students and teachers from all over Europe to come together to discuss the High North and its relevance to the wider world, particularly with regards to climate change.
 
 
Why the High North? Why do we insist on you traversing the European continent to a place you’ve quite possibly never heard of before, a place so far north that you might never go that far again? What kind of importance does the High North have for you and your everyday life in Moscow, Lisbon, Budapest, Düsseldorf, Manchester or wherever you live? We’ll argue that the Arctic has become an area where much of the world’ future is being decided. We want you to come to Tromsø to see with your own eyes, listen with your own ears and make up your own opinion about a region that you probably know little about.
 
When we decided to have a session in Tromsø, we knew right away that climate change would have to play a significant role. Next to island states, Antarctica and the Arctic are the places on earth where climate change is most noticeable. The ice is melting, species are dying out, traditional ways of life among indigenous people are under threat.
 
“But still, what does it have to do with me?” you ask again. More than you think, we’ll argue. If the Greenland ice sheet melts entirely away, sea levels will rise by an estimated 7 metres everywhere on earth. But if the ice in the Arctic Sea melts, the shipping routes of the Northwest and the Northeast passages will open up, cutting the maritime travel distance between Europe and America, and Europe and Asia by thousands of miles. In addition to this, the Arctic Sea is full of fish, and the United States geological survey reckons that around 70% of the world’s undiscovered petroleum resources are to be found in the Arctic. Is it legitimate to weigh economic benefits against environmental hazards?
 
Another question becomes essential: Who owns the Arctic? Where do national boundaries end? Only five countries border the Arctic. But the process of drawing up clear maritime borders between them has proved to be complicated. When Russia planted a flag on the seabed directly below the North Pole in 2007, was it a warning about future claims of sovereignty? Will the United States challenge this claim? And can Canada legitimately claim economic rights in the Northwest Passage, or is this international waters? Is Greenland breaking away from Denmark? And who says Norway has the right to control fishing quotas in the waters outside the Svalbard Archipelago?
 
 
Also, there is an ongoing debate in Europe about centralisation as opposed to regional and national self determination. Both Greenland and Norway are interesting cases in this respect, as Norway has voted twice to stay outside the European Union (EU) and as Greenland is the only territory ever to have withdrawn from the EU. The Sámi live in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. They are the only indigenous people in the EU.
 
The dream of an International EYP Session in Tromsø has lived for over a decade now. The realisation that it was possible came in autumn 2007, when a Norwegian national session was held in Tromsø, the northernmost EYP session ever to be held so far. When you come here, you help making our dream come true, and for that we owe you an amazing experience.
 
We can’t promise you that you’ll see polar bears (in Norway they actually only exist in Svalbard, about 1500 kilometres north of Tromsø). But we can promise you an exotic experience that you will never forget, and a chance to discuss questions that you may never have reflected on before and meet people with knowledge you never knew existed. We, the organisers, thank you for taking part in this session, and we can’t wait to meet you all face to face!
 
Velkommen til Tromsø! Welcome to Tromsø!

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