In the first person: Pete Ewins of WWF Canada | WWF
In the first person: Pete Ewins of WWF Canada

Posted on 13 June 2011

Celebrating 50 years of WWF: Dr Peter Ewins, Director of Species Conservation at WWF Canada, reflects on his work with the WWF Global Arctic Programme - and how important it is to assure a decent future for people who live in the Arctic.
Dr Peter Ewins, Director of Species Conservation at WWF Canada, reflects on his work with the WWF Global Arctic Programme - and how important it is to assure a decent future for people who live in the Arctic.

Since the mid-1990s I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to play a lead role as a Canadian Arctic conservation specialist, within the circumarctic programme of WWF.

Dr Peter Prokosch (then director of the precursor to GAP) and I were at the inaugural meeting of The Arctic Council in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and since then he and I have worked on a number of great projects together.

One WWF supported community-based project in west Greenland comes to mind quickly as characterising what WWF is all about in the Arctic.

The tiny Inuit community of Rode Bay, just north of Illulisaat in Greenland’s Disko Bay, was in decline. Traditionally it was an Inuit hunting-whaling-fishing based community. WWF’s financial support helped diversify the economy there by supporting ecotourism initiatives.

Through the work of local entrepreneur Elke Meissner, a lovely dockside restaurant was established, with locally harvested seafood on the menu.

And so in 2004 as I was co-leading a Canadian arctic cruise ship, we proudly visited the community one sunny Sunday morning, and marvelled at the tidy houses, sled dogs, minke and fin whale carcasses, and numerous birds and icebergs in the vicinity.

This still reminds me so strongly that major nature conservation successes in the Arctic can only be realised if we also help assure a decent future for the people who live there.

Illulisaat, west Greenland
© WWF / Pete Ewins