Go to content

Young people living in permafrost regions

In 2017, 4.9 million people were reported to be living in areas with permafrost. However, 3.3 million of these people currently live in Northern settlements where permafrost will degrade and ultimately disappear by 2050[1]. So far, no circumpolar studies have assessed the exact number of young people living in these localities nor the experienced impact.
The share of young people 15-24 years old living in the Arctic Regions in 2017 is illustrated in Map 1. Northern Quebec and Nunavut in Arctic Canada are the regions with the highest share, with more than 16 percent youth population. The age group between 25-35 is also important to consider for maintaining a balanced population structure, especially since numerous smaller settlements with less than 5000 inhabitants in the Arctic rural areas are struggling to retain and attract young adults. Many of them move to urban areas for work or education and may not return at a later stage in life[2]. Without a younger population, the capacity of these areas to address climate change locally could be compromised and the outmigration of many arctic rural settlements leads to resource drain and skills shortage.
Climate-driven projections for the Arctic suggest that 42 percent of the permafrost settlements will thaw entirely in a couple of decades. Among the settlements remaining on permafrost, 42 percent are in high hazard zones, where the consequences of permafrost thaw will be most severe. Young people between the ages of 10 to 24 currently constitute the largest generation of youth in history[3] . In the last decades, youth across the world have been paving the way, taking action to reverse climate change. The world witnessed this engagement in 2019 when more than 46 million young people and children from over 150 countries around the world went on a climate strike. Indeed, youth involvement in tackling climate change has been around for quite a few years[4]. and much speaks to the urgent need to pay attention to the effects of permafrost thaw and degradation in this context as well.
Arctic_youth_15-24.jpg